U.S. Debt Culture and the Dollar's Fate

If the United States cannot get its fiscal house in order, the dollar’s privileged position as the world’s reserve currency may be at risk—at a time when there seem to be few if any plausible alternatives.

Issue: May-June 2012

IN OUR common narrative, the modern era of global finance—what we call the Old Order—begins with the Great Depression and New Deal of the 1930s. The economic model put in place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and others at the end of World War II is seen as a political as well as economic break point. But arbitrarily selected demarcation points in any human timeline can be misleading. The purpose of narrative, after all, is to simplify the complex and, over time, to remake the past in today’s terms. As we approach any discussion of the Old Order, we must acknowledge that the image of intelligent design in public policy is largely an illusion.

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