Financial Crisis: has the world changed?
Sometimes those shifts are barely perceptible — the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War One but also bred German resentment and the rise of Nazism; the Yalta conference that helped create the United Nations as a guardian of peace but also led to the Iron Curtain that divided Europe for nearly half a century; and the Great Depression (arguably the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century, says Martin Wolf).
It is only when we look back we see the world has changed.
Are we at such a point now?
John Gray in The Observer speaks of a shattering moment in America’s fall from power. Germany’s Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has said the United States has lost its financial superpower status. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said we need to rebuild the whole financial system from scratch, as they did at Bretton Woods. The Telegraph called for a ‘better capitalism’.
What of its status in other areas, of diplomacy, defence and its lead role in NATO? Can an inward looking United States commit to billions of dollars to rescue its financial system and at the same time commit ever more money to military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere?
There is a widely held view that September, 11, 2001 changed the world. Will the effects of 2008’s financial crisis prove even more profound?