Two interesting articles below....
America Didn't Decline. It Went Global (found on Politico, but interesting none the less)
By Sean Starrs | 2/24/2014
We’ve been obsessing over the decline or persistence of American power for more
than three decades now. The latest example is a Gallup poll out Monday
showing rising dissatisfaction with the United States’ standing in the world —
but it all started with a wave of declinism in the 1980s, set off by the rise of Japan. Then the
doom and gloom suddenly vanished amid the triumphalism of the 1990s, which
transformed the United States into the world’s only superpower. After the Sept. 11 attacks
and the invasion of Iraq, many thought “empire” was a better moniker, with the United
States apparently able to reshape world order virtually at will. And then just a few years
later — poof! — declinism returned with a vengeance, with American power supposedly
crashing like the latest Hollywood reality queen. China supplanted Japan as a hegemon on
the rise, and the biggest global financial crisis since 1929 — emanating from the United
States itself — was allegedly the final nail in the coffin of the American century.
But really? Is it really possible for American power in the world to flip-flop so wildly over
the decades? Surely, the economic underpinnings of national power run deeper than that?
And throughout these waves of conventional wisdom over the decades, there have always
been contrarians, including in the present. So how is it possible for commentators to look
at the same data and come to completely opposite conclusions?
The answer is that people are debating the wrong data, especially today. The traditional
way of conceptualizing national power is to look at so-called national accounts — most of
all gross domestic product, but also balance of trade, national debt, world share of
manufacturing, etc. — relative to other nations or the world. So when Japanese GDP was
rising rapidly from the 1960s to the 1980s, people equated this with the rise of Japanese
economic power. This made sense in the era before globalization, when production was
largely contained within national borders and firms would export their goods and services
to compete abroad. So when made-in-Japan radios began flooding the American market in
the 1960s, this was reflected not only in increasing Japanese GDP and exports but also in
the increasing capacity of Japanese firms like Sony to outcompete American firms like
But in the age of globalization, as the world’s largest transnational corporations now have
vast operations across the globe, this equation between national accounts and national
power begins to break down. China, for example, has been the world’s largest electronics
exporter since 2004, and yet this does not at all mean that Chinese firms are world leaders
in electronics. Even though China has a virtual monopoly on the export of iPhones, for
instance, it is Apple that reaps the majority of profits from iPhone sales. More broadly,
more than three-quarters of the top 200 exporting firms from China are actually foreign,
not Chinese. This is totally different from the prior rise of Japan, propelled by Japanese
firms producing in Japan and exporting abroad.
In the age of globalization, then, the rise of Chinese national accounts could actually reflect
the power of foreign transnational corporations, and we cannot know simply by looking at
national accounts. Another example is the Chinese auto market, which has exploded to
become the largest national auto market in the world since 2009. But again, in the age of
globalization, this does not at all mean that Chinese firms are world leaders in automobiles.
In fact, Chinese firms can’t even compete within China, let alone abroad. There are more
than 100 Chinese auto firms, and despite decades of state subsidies and protection, their
combined market share in China is less than 30 percent. Foreign firms, dominated by
General Motors and Volkswagen, make up the rest. This is totally different from the days
when the Japanese and South Korean auto markets emerged, as the rise of their national
markets reflected the rise of their national auto firms (Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, etc.),
establishing a strong base from which to compete abroad.
So we can no longer rely on national accounts to determine national power. Rather, we
have to investigate these corporations themselves to encompass their transnational operations
— for which national accounts (conceived in the 1920s) are wholly inadequate.
Once we analyze the world’s top transnationals, a startling picture of economic power
emerges. For one thing, national accounts seriously underestimate American power, and
seriously overestimate Chinese power.
So this is what I do in my research, some of which is published in International Studies
Quarterly. I analyze the world’s top 2,000 corporations as ranked by the Forbes Global
2000, organize them into 25 broad sectors and then calculate the combined profit shares of
each nationality represented. The extent of American dominance is stunning. Of the 25
sectors, American firms have the leading profit share in 18, and dominate (with a profit
share of 38 percent or more) in an astounding 13 of these sectors — more than half. No
other country even begins to approach this American dominance across such a vast swath
of global capitalism. Only one other country, Japan, dominates a single other sector
(trading companies), which happens to be one of the smallest of the 25. By contrast,
American firms particularly dominate the technological frontier, including a whopping 84
percent of the profit share in computer hardware and software (despite China becoming
the largest PC market in the world in 2011), 89 percent of the health care equipment and
services sector and 53 percent of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Perhaps most
surprisingly, American dominance of financial services has actually increased since the
2008 Wall Street crash, from 47 percent in 2007 to an incredible 66 percent profit share in
2013. In short, despite almost seven decades of increasing global competition and the rise
of vast regions of the world (most of all East Asia), American transnational corporations
continue to dominate the pinnacle of global capitalism, a phenomenon that national
This is not to deny that China’s rise has been extraordinary, but we have to go beyond
national accounts to understand what’s going on. Basically, China’s economy has a two-tier
structure: One tier is state-dominated and closed to foreign (or even private Chinese)
competition, and the other is more or less open. In many of the latter sectors, American
firms already dominate, so in this sense the rise of China actually increases American
power and influence as these companies become increasingly embedded in Chinese society.
As for the nationally protected sectors, China has risen rapidly mainly in those sectors that
are state-dominated (banking; construction; forestry, metals and mining; oil and gas;
telecommunications), but these sectors are largely contained within Chinese borders, and
their Chinese state-owned enterprises don’t compete with American transnational firms
abroad (oil and gas being a notable exception).
But if we now live in the age of globalization and these companies operate all over, then can we really count them as American power? Yes, because they are still ultimately owned by
American citizens — of the top 100 U.S. transnational companies, on average more than 85
percent of their shares are owned by Americans. Thus, an incredible 42 percent of the
world’s millionaires are American (as opposed to 4 percent Chinese), and more than 40
percent of the world’s household net worth is based in America. That the global share of
U.S. GDP has declined to less than a quarter since the 2008 crash simply reveals how
global American corporate power has become.
But this also drives increasing inequality in the United States, one of the defining issues of
our age, from Occupy Wall Street to “The Hunger Games” to President Barack Obama’s
2014 State of the Union address. This is because the top 1 percent own 42 percent of Big
Business, and as the latter increases its global power, so too does the wealth of American
asset-owners — and thus inequality. But we cannot understand this fact without rethinking
national power in the age of globalization, and understanding that U.S. power hasn’t
declined — it has globalized.
Sean Starrs is currently a Ph.D. student at York University in Toronto and will be
assistant professor of international relations at the City University of Hong Kong this
From Zero Hedge
Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog ,
During 2013, America continued to steadily march down a self-destructive path toward
oblivion. As a society, our debt levels are completely and totally out of control. Our financial
system has been transformed into the largest casino on the entire planet and our big banks are
behaving even more recklessly than they did just before the last financial crisis. We continue to
see thousands of businesses and millions of jobs get shipped out of the United States, and the
middle class is being absolutely eviscerated. Due to the lack of decent jobs, poverty is absolutely
exploding. Government dependence is at an all-time high and crime is rising. Evidence of social
and moral decay is seemingly everywhere, and our government appears to be going insane. If
we are going to have any hope of solving these problems, the American people need to
take a long, hard look in the mirror and finally admit how bad things have actually become.
If we all just blindly have faith that "everything is going to be okay", the consequences of
decades of incredibly foolish decisions are going to absolutely blindside us and we will be
absolutely devastated by the great crisis that is rapidly approaching. The United States is in a
massive amount of trouble, and it is time that we all started facing the truth. The following are 83
numbers from 2013 that are almost too crazy to believe...
#1 Most people that hear this statistic do not believe that it is actually true, but right now an all-time record 102 million working age Americans  do not have a job. That number has risen
by about 27 million since the year 2000.
#2 Because of the lack of jobs, poverty is spreading like wildfire in the United States. According
to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent  of
all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.
#3 As society breaks down, the government feels a greater need than ever before to watch,
monitor and track the population. For example, every single day the NSA intercepts and
permanently stores close to 2 billion emails and phone calls  in addition to a whole host of other
#4 The Bank for International Settlements says that total public and private debt levels around the
globe are now 30 percent higher  than they were back during the financial crisis of 2008.
#5 According to a recent World Bank report , private domestic debt in China has grown from 9
trillion dollars in 2008 to 23 trillion dollars today.
#6 In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks  in the United States. Today, there are only
6,891 left .
#7 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup,
Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger 
over the past five years.
#8 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets. The six largest banks now
account for 67 percent  of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent
 of those assets.
#9 JPMorgan Chase is roughly the size of the entire British economy .
#10 The five largest banks now account for 42 percent  of all loans in the United States.
#11 Right now, four of the "too big to fail" banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is
well in excess of 40 trillion dollars .
#12 The total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times
greater  than their total assets.
#13 According to the Bank for International Settlements, the global financial system has a total of
441 trillion dollars  worth of exposure to interest rate derivatives.
#14 Through the end of November, approximately 365,000  Americans had signed up for
Obamacare but approximately 4 million Americans  had already lost their current health
insurance policies because of Obamacare.
#15 It is being projected that up to 100 million more Americans  could have their health insurance policies canceled by the time Obamacare is fully rolled out.
#16 At this point, 82.4 million  Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in
the Medicaid program.
#17 It is has been estimated that Obamacare will add 21 million  more Americans to the
#18 It is being projected that health insurance premiums for healthy 30-year-old men will rise by
an average of 260 percent  under Obamacare.
#19 One couple down in Texas received a letter from their health insurance company  that
informed them that they were being hit with a 539 percent rate increase because of Obamacare.
#20 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent  of all Americans were covered by employment-based health
insurance. Today, only 54.9 percent  of all Americans are covered by employment-based
#21 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars  on welfare programs
over the past five years.
#22 Incredibly, 74 percent  of all the wealth in the United States is owned by the wealthiest 10
percent of all Americans.
#23 According to Consumer Reports, the number of children in the United States taking
antipsychotic drugs has nearly tripled  over the past 15 years.
#24 The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to an all-time low. Right now it is sitting at a
yearly rate of just 6.8 marriages per 1000 people .
#25 According to a shocking new study, the average American that turned 65 this year will
receive $327,500  more in federal benefits than they paid in taxes over the course of their
#26 In just one week in December , a combined total of more than 2000 new cold temperature
and snowfall records were set in the United States.
#27 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has
fallen for five years in a row .
#28 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row .
#29 Only 47 percent  of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.
#30 The unemployment rate in the eurozone recently hit a new all-time high  of 12.2 percent.
#31 If you assume that the labor force participation rate in the U.S. is at the long-term average,
the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.5 percent  instead of 7
#32 In November 2000, 64.3 percent  of all working age Americans had a job. When Barack
Obama first entered the White House, 60.6 percent  of all working age Americans had a job.
Today, only 58.6 percent  of all working age Americans have a job.
#33 There are 1,148,000 fewer Americans  working today than there was in November 2006.
Meanwhile, our population has grown by more than 16 million people during that time frame.
#34 Only 19 percent  of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year
#35 Just 14 percent  of all Americans believe that the stock market will rise next year.
#36 According to CNBC, Pinterest is currently valued at more than 3 billion dollars  even
though it has never earned a profit.
#37 Twitter is a seven-year-old company that has never made a profit. It actually lost 64.6 million
dollars  last quarter. But according to the financial markets it is currently worth about 22 billion
#38 Right now, Facebook is trading at a valuation that is equivalent to approximately 100 years of
earnings , and it is currently supposedly worth about 115 billion dollars .
#39 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent  over the past three years.
#40 Student loans are up by an astounding 61 percent  over the past three years.
#41 At this moment, there are 6 million Americans  in the 16 to 24-year-old age group that are
neither in school or working.
#42 The "inactivity rate" for men in their prime working years (25 to 54) has just hit a brand new
all-time record high .
#43 It is hard to believe, but in America today one out of every ten jobs is now filled by a temp
#44 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent  of the jobs lost during the last recession, but
they have accounted for only 22 percent  of the jobs created since then.
#45 According to the Social Security Administration, 40 percent  of all U.S. workers make less
than $20,000 a year.
#46 Approximately one out of every four  part-time workers in America is living below the
#47 After accounting for inflation, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are making less than what a
full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968 .
#48 When Barack Obama took office, the average duration of unemployment in this country was
19.8 weeks. Today, it is 37.2 weeks .
#49 Investors pulled an astounding 72 billion dollars  out of bond mutual funds in 2013. It was
the worst year for bond funds ever.
#50 Small business is rapidly dying in America. At this point, only about 7 percent  of all
non-farm workers in the United States are self-employed. That is an all-time record low.
#51 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third
of all Americans combined .
#52 Once January 1st hits, it will officially be illegal  to manufacture or import traditional incandescent light bulbs in the United States. It is being projected that millions of Americans will
attempt to stock up on the old light bulbs before they are totally gone from store shelves.
#53 The Japanese government has estimated that approximately 300 tons  of highly
radioactive water is being released into the Pacific Ocean from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear
facility every single day.
#54 Back in 1967, the U.S. military had more than 31,000  strategic nuclear warheads. That
number is already being cut down to 1,550, and now Barack Obama wants to reduce it to only
about 1,000 .
#55 As you read this, 60 percent  of all children in Detroit are living in poverty and there are
approximately 78,000 abandoned homes  in the city.
#56 Wal-Mart recently opened up two new stores in Washington D.C., and more than 23,000
people  applied for just 600 positions. That means that only about 2.6 percent of the applicants
were ultimately hired. In comparison, Harvard offers admission to 6.1 percent  of their
#57 At this point, almost half  of all public school students in America come from low income
#58 Tragically, there are 1.2 million students  that attend public schools in the United States
that are homeless. That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.
#59 According to a Gallup poll  that was recently released, 20.0 percent of all Americans did
not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past
year. That is just under the all-time record of 20.4 percent that was set back in November 2008.
#60 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million  in the year 2000 to
more than 47 million  today.
#61 Right now, one out of every five  households in the United States is on food stamps.
#62 The U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs  for every 1 billion dollars of goods that
are imported from overseas.
#63 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent  of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less
than 65 percent  of all men in the United States have jobs.
#64 According to one survey , approximately 75 percent of all American women do not have
any interest in dating unemployed men.
#65 China exports 4 billion pounds of food  to the United States every year.
#66 Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars  with the
rest of the world since 1975.
#67 The number of Americans on Social Security Disability now exceeds the entire population of
Greece , and the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of
#68 It is being projected that the number of Americans on Social Security will rise from 57 million
today to more than 100 million  in 25 years.
#69 Back in 1970, the total amount of debt in the United States (government debt + business
debt + consumer debt, etc.) was less than 2 trillion dollars. Today it is over 56 trillion dollars .
#70 Back on September 30th, 2012 our national debt was sitting at a total of 16.1 trillion dollars
. Today, it is up to 17.2 trillion dollars .
#71 The U.S. government "rolled over" more than 7.5 trillion dollars  of existing debt in fiscal
#72 If the U.S. national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills it would circle the earth at
the equator 45 times .
#73 When Barack Obama was first elected, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio was under 70 percent .
Today, it is up to 101 percent .
#74 The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double  during the eight years of the
Obama administration. In other words, under Barack Obama the U.S. government will
accumulate more debt than it did under all of the other presidents in U.S. history combined.
#75 The federal government is borrowing (stealing) roughly 100 million dollars from our children
and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.
#76 At this point, the U.S. already has more government debt per capita  than Greece,
Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.
#77 Japan now has a debt to GDP ratio of more than 211 percent .
#78 As of December 5th, 83 volcanic eruptions had been recorded around the planet so far this
year. That is a new all-time record high .
#79 53 percent  of all Americans do not have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water
in their homes.
#80 Violent crime in the United States was up 15 percent  last year.
#81 According to a very surprising survey that was recently conducted, 68 percent  of all
Americans believe that the country is currently on the wrong track.
#82 Back in 1972, 46 percent  of all Americans believed that "most people can be trusted".
Today, only 32 percent  of all Americans believe that "most people can be trusted".
#83 According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 19 percent  of all Americans trust the
government. Back in 1958, 73 percent  of all Americans trusted the government.
So do you have any numbers from 2013 that you would add to this list?