Just a thought on the West’s decline

by Chris Zappone

The idea that the West was in decline has had its genesis more or less in bond markets, following the financial crisis of 2008-09. Economists, looking at output in Western nations, compared to the developing East, are also tempted to make the case. But in the years since 2008-09, something happened in the West that has probably eluded the view of onlookers from the East. The primacy of business to set political agendas has been severely compromised. And it was that primacy that led the West to the situation that precipitated the financial crisis — think of the ideas underpinning the European Union, or the entire eight years of Bill Clinton’s administrations. Now, following the bailouts and the recessions and the crisis of legitimacy, the political imagination has reasserted itself throughout the West- everywhere from the US to Italy, with varying degrees of success. It will be the political, rather than economic, agenda which directs Western nations not just in future years, but probably decades, as history runs in cycles. This means that, with the debts and slow growth or not, it’s a very different West than the one portrayed by fund managers and economists mesmerized by Asian growth. This matters a lot in discussions of one region’s decline relative to another’s.