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

Nouriel Roubini , Michael Moran

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Book Description

17 May 2012
The age of American global dominance is ending. In recent years, risky economic and foreign policies have steadily eroded the power structure in place since the Cold War. And now, staggering under a huge burden of debt, the country must make some tough choices - or watch its creditors walk away. In The Reckoning, Michael Moran, a leading geostrategy analyst at Roubini Global Economics, the Council on Foreign Relations, and other leading institutions, explores how a variety of forces are converging to challenge U.S. leadership - including unprecedented information technologies, the growing prosperity of countries like China, India, Brazil, and Turkey, and the diminished importance of Wall Street in the face of global markets.
This shift will have serious consequences for the wider world as well. Countries that have traditionally depended on the United States for protection will have to adjust their policies to reality. Each nation will be responsible for its own human rights record, energy production, and environmental policy, and revolutions will succeed or fail unaided. Moran describes how, with a bit of political leadership, America can transition to this new world order gracefully - by managing entitlements, reigniting sustainable growth, reforming immigration policy, and breaking the poisonous deadlock in Washington. If not, he warns, the new era will arrive on its own terms and provide a nasty shock to those clinging to the 20th century.

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'Michael Moran understands what few Americans do: that we have reached a tipping point in global history that will fundamentally change the planet. . . America will find it very difficult to adjust to its new place as a peer, rather than a dominant nation.' - From the Foreword by Nouriel Roubini, Chairman and Founder, Roubini Global Economics

Book Description

The Reckoning shows how America's runaway debt and wayward foreign policy threaten its place on the world stage - and how its leaders can turn the ship around

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hold on to your seats; it's going to be a bumpy ride... and here's why 21 Jun 2012
By Peter Baldwin - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this eye-opening, riveting and non-partisan view of where we are in the world (vs. where we see ourselves). Though it's approach is a "plague on both houses" The Reckoning provides real resolutions. Anybody interested in understanding how we got here and where we think we are going (in the global political landscape) should read this book. Highly recommended!
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Careful Confrontation with Reality - 14 May 2012
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on
The day of American global dominance is ending - a huge debt burden, and risky economic and foreign policies have made a mockery of our cherished notion of exceptionalism. Instead of confronting reality, we continue our unsuccessful practices - eg. fiscal policy directed by the size of the national debt rather than the employment crisis at hand has become a tremendous drag on economic growth. Our one 'hope,' manipulating exchange rates to influence trade balances, is a zero-sum game.

The 'good news' is that America will continue to appear strong, perhaps for as long as a generation; the 'bad news' is that our slow decline is not likely to prod the significant constructive actions needed. These include more progressive taxation and fiscal stimulus aimed at improving productive infrastructure, coupled with long-term fiscal discipline, stricter supervision and regulation of a financial system still running amok (eg. J.P. Morgan), and the breakup of 'too big to fail' banks. Also needed - less investment in hugely expensive satellite weaponry, hypersonic aircraft, and naval flotillas.

Except for the peak years of WWII, the U.S. has never had a debt/GDP ratio as high as it is now. At 1% rates, the interest now has reached $169 billion/year, exceeding eg. federal spending on highway construction and other 2011 transportation projects.

Israel was the #2 recipient of U.S. foreign aid in 2010, #3 in 2011. Adding Egypt and Jordan's foreign-aid receipts (provided primarily to calm the waters for Israel), would clear make Israel the #1 recipient in both years. Israel's policies of occupying the West Bank and Gaza, proliferating nuclear weapons while pretending it doesn't have any, and the denial of voting and property rights to Palestinians cannot continue. Other Mid-East states (eg. Saudi Arabia - both a major source of oil and holder of our debt) will demand a more aggressive U.S. stance vs. Israel.

Moran is somewhat encouraged by rising labor costs within China; however, he ignores that millions more workers still available in China, as well as India, Vietnam, etc.

China's world influence is boosted by the fact it can shoot down satellites with lasers, and its carrier-killer can strike as much as 1,200 miles offshore. (The range of carrier-based aircraft absent refueling is not about 735 miles.) It's now the #1 trade partner vs. South Korea, Japan, Australia, and India. This doesn't bode well for U.S. influence in those areas. Further, everyone (especially South Korea) knows China has far more leverage with North Korea than does the U.S.

Placing Pakistan into the category of 'friend' has undermined relations with India; ironically, both have strong intelligence assets vs. the Taliban. India then retaliated by declining to consider purchasing new U.S. fighter aircraft.

The 'really bad news' is that even recent severe shocks have failed to motivate rethinking - eg. 9/11 instead saddled us with misguided wars and the squandering of much of the admiration and good will that had been acquired following the peaceful end of the Cold War. Then came the 'Great Recession' after our Darwinistic financial systems deregulation, further worsening matters. Still no major changes. And perhaps worst of all, what passes for 'truth' in American political debate adds no light but does provide another major obstacle. Moran doesn't see either the Tea Party or Obama as leading the U.S. forward in a positive manner.

Recommendations: 1)'Tough love' for all our allies, else they'll continue to over-rely on the U.S. until reaching the point that it is obvious we've become a paper tiger. (Eg. Taiwan - Do you really think the U.S. will/could choose defending a nation nearly 7,000 miles away, vs. Los Angeles?) 2)Address income inequality and re-boot the economy by resetting mortgage loans to actual current values, re-emphasizing progressive taxation. 3)Take a 'gloves off' approach vs. the financial sector. 4)Restructure the military - eg. emphasize long-range drones vs. the new trillion-dollar-plus problem-plagued F-35, smaller ships vs. the $12+ trillion aircraft carrier U.S.S. Gerald Ford. 5)End our unilateral assumption of responsibility for Middle-East stability.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insights into changing world 23 April 2012
By e2121 - Published on
Fascinating and interesting take on some of the causes of the more serious geostrategic and macroeconomic issues facing the US today. In particular, chapters where Moran uses recent events to demonstrate how technology and social media shifted the balance of power in ways establishment powers couldn't predict, and how the rise of new powers (China, Brazil) will continue to challenge US leadership. He makes an eloquent case for real leadership in the US in terms of changing our foreign and monetary policy for the better before its too late- including current human rights and energy policies.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reckoning -- great read 24 May 2012
By Carmen Ghia - Published on
This book is an education, a kind of geostrategy course in 200 pages. It can, at times, be painful to read for holding a magnifying glass to the widening cracks and festering splinters in the foundation of US government... but thankfully, the book stands out from other US `declinist' books in providing a nuanced look at the less obvious ways that America's influence has diminished as well as real recommendations on how to regain it. The author has a kind of journalistic style that is lively and accessible - it is sophisticated in its analysis without being pedantic, wonky or too technical. AS we careen toward another debt showdown in Washington, anyone who wants to understand the big picture should read this!
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 18 April 2014
By Eager Learner - Published on
I have finally found a book that tries to explain current economic and political conditions without a definitive bias. It is worth reading for anyone who wants an even handed assessment. I don't agree with some of the conclusions and tend to think the author is too kind in dealing with some of the liberal positions but I don't read to prove myself right. I have tried for several years to find a book like this that doesn't try to convert me to the economic view of the political left or right. If you are hardcore in either direction this book won't satisfy you. It could, however, make you think.
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