By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
At the beginning of 2014, many people were optimistic about the world economy. For the fifth straight year, it had seemed safe to declare the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis over and done with. This time is different: 2015 is likely to begin in a merited atmosphere of gloom.
Pearl Harbor is a powerful reminder of the importance of Japan. The surprise attack launched 73 years ago, Sunday (or Monday by Tokyo time) by Japanese forces changed the course of history, plunging America into World War Two and, eventually, sealing Japan’s imperial fate. From the ashes of the war these bitter enemies forged an unlikely alliance that has weathered many storms. Today it is more important than ever before.
The Great Divergence is a term coined by economic historians to explain the sudden acceleration of growth and technology in Europe from the 16th century onward, while other civilizations such as China, India, Japan and Persia remained in their pre-modern state. This phrase has recently acquired a very different meaning, however, more relevant to global economic and financial conditions today.