The Reckoning: Debt, Democracy, and the Future of American Power

Overview

A leading forecaster of economic and political trends takes a sharp look at the decline of American influence in the world, and how it can prepare for the new reality.

The age of American global dominance is ending. Today, a host of forces are converging to challenge its cherished notion of exceptionalism, and risky economic and foreign policies have steadily eroded the power structure in place since the Cold War. Staggering under a huge burden of debt, the country must make ...

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The Reckoning: Debt, Democracy, and the Future of American Power

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Overview

A leading forecaster of economic and political trends takes a sharp look at the decline of American influence in the world, and how it can prepare for the new reality.

The age of American global dominance is ending. Today, a host of forces are converging to challenge its cherished notion of exceptionalism, and risky economic and foreign policies have steadily eroded the power structure in place since the Cold War. Staggering under a huge burden of debt, the country must make some tough choices—or cede sovereignty to its creditors. In The Reckoning, Michael Moran, geostrategy analyst explores the challenges ahead — and what, if anything, can be prevent chaos as America loses its perch at the top of the mountain.

Covering developments like unprecedented information technologies, the growing prosperity of China, India, Brazil, and Turkey, and the diminished importance of Wall Street in the face of global markets, Moran warns that the coming shift will  have serious consequences not just for the United States, but for the wider world. Countries that have traditionally depended on the United States for protection and global stability will have to fend for themselves. Moran describes how, with a bit of wise leadership, America can transition to this new world order gracefully—by managing entitlements, reigniting sustainable growth, reforming immigration policy, launching new regional dialogues that bring friend and rival together in cooperative multinational structures, and breaking the poisonous deadlock in Washington. If not, he warns, history won’t wait.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An engaging, if chilling read… Moran's point of view is valuable, particularly in the context of the U.S.' November elections.”—USA Today

"The Reckoning is a smart, sober and clear-eyed primer on the Post-American Century. Read it, and then demand equally straight answers from those who seek your vote."—The Seattle Times

"A grim but hopeful analysis of the global position of the U.S. and the dire need for change."—Booklist

"For policy and financial wonks, a smart, bracing and sobering read; for voters, fair warning about possible outcomes of the looming November elections."—Kirkus Reviews

“This solemn examination of the severe problems facing the U.S. today...offers a practical, useful roadmap for change if politicians will follow.”—Publishers Weekly

"The Reckoning is a chilling survey of the state of the world and American global leadership. Michael Moran sees the real problems and argues that things will go from bad to worse unless Washington can somehow manage to change its ways and embrace major reforms. I hope he's wrong—but I fear he may be right."—Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs and author of How Wars End

"Mike Moran is a sharp thinker and a fine storyteller, and The Reckoning is a terrifically engaging read. America's role in the world is a subject that demands clarity and nuance, and this book delivers both."—Ian Bremmer, author of The End of the Free Market

  

“With the clarity and style of someone used to communicating complicated stuff to a general audience, Moran draws on his decades of experience to lay out for readers all the factors in the bill that has come due for America and how we can pay it off.  The choices are hard but Moran is not a "declinist;" he is a realistic optimist. The Reckoning is a book that frames the choices facing America's citizens better than any I have read.”—Michael Goldarb, Senior Correspondent, GlobalPost.com and author of Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews From the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance

"Moran comprehensively and bluntly catalogs the political, economic, and foreign policy errors that have drained the Treasury and diminished global opinion of American leadership.  His views will irritate many current stakeholders.  They do however contribute to a needed debate on American’s future role in global security and Moran believes that role, while, requiring changes in style and substance, remains vital."—Dr. William Turcotte, Chairman Emeritus, Naval War College

Publishers Weekly
In this solemn examination of the severe problems facing the U.S. today, geostrategy analyst Moran explores the country’s recent decline from various angles, from the immense deficit and political indecision that resulted in Standard & Poor downgrading the country’s credit rating, to the rise of nations like China, India, and Brazil, with their growing economic and industrial power enabling them to assert themselves on the international stage, sometimes at odds with American interests. Moran touches on how communications technology, such as cellphone cameras and social media networks, assisted in the recent protest movements in the Middle East; much of this technology originated in America, yet many of the protestors distrust the U.S. due to its history of supporting the region’s dictators. Arguing that America has become too comfortable with its status as the most powerful country in the world, with its leaders either ignoring signs of their decline or designing impractical schemes to regain their standing, Moran suggests several possible solutions: reducing the American military presence in places like Japan and Germany and encouraging those countries to strengthen their own defense forces. The book offers a practical, useful roadmap for change if politicians will follow. Agent: Leah N. Spiro, Riverside Creative Management Inc. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
The fiscal sky is falling, and it's George W. Bush's fault. Moran, a geopolitics and economics writer for Slate and other publications, is far more sophisticated than that opening declaration suggests, but in the main his arguments line up with it. Two economically catastrophic events took place on Bush's watch or even at his instigation--the "disastrous Iraq War" is one, "U.S.-inspired economic policies that encouraged global capitalism to run riot" the other. "The damage," writes the author, "will haunt America for a generation." As he notes, Americans have long tended to shrug off the costs of war as simply the costs of doing business as global policeman and superpower, but there are no funds left for such behavior anymore--much as those who are now calling for war with Iran might pretend otherwise. That said, Moran does not necessarily project a decline in American influence around the globe; we may be broke, but we also have "the world's largest domestic consumer market, as well as a commanding lead in many of the disruptive technologies that still drive product innovation." He does not add the caveat, "for the moment," though he does warn that choosing another leader like Bush would hasten Ragnarok, or at least its fiscal equivalent. Parting ways with other critics from the progressive side of the aisle, Moran does allow that debt will have to be curbed and the political will found not just to do that, but also to convey to the rest of the world--especially creditors--that we're serious. That will come with some cost, personal and national, and it will almost certainly require the U.S. to shed its "superpower cape." For policy and financial wonks, a smart, bracing and sobering read; for voters, fair warning about possible outcomes of the looming November elections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137278333
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Moran is Editor-in-Chief of Renaissance Insight, the though-leadership arm of the global investment bank Renaissance Capital. Based in London and New York, Moran writes on and forecasts geopolitical and economic trends for the bank's clients and is author of "The Reckoning" blog on Slate. Moran worked directly with renowned economist Nouriel Roubini during the 2008-2009 economic crisis and, over the past 25 years, he has reported and analyzed major events for the world’s leading intellectual and newsgathering institutions, winning numerous awards for his work on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations, the BBC, MSNBC.com, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Dr. Nouriel Roubini

Introduction 1

1 Excess Baggage: The West's Struggle with Reality 7

2 As the World Turns, Gravity Bites 25

3 A "Boiling Frog" Moment for America's Middle Class 45

4 From Shortwaves to Flash Mobs: Technology Speeds the March of History 67

5 In the Middle East, the Writing is on the Wall 89

6 China and America: The Perils of Codependency 117

7 The Not-So-Pacific Rim 139

8 India, Brazil, and the New American Dream Team 153

9 Europe: PIIGS, Canaries, and Bears—Oh My! 175

10 In the Game, or in Denial? 201

Acknowledgments 219

Notes 221

Index 237

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Wonderfully written and succinct. Michael Moran guides you through the complex world of macro economics and politics in a smooth and very understandable way. The best and easiest primer on what we are facing as a nation (and world) in these turbulent times.

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