Which new bully will replace the U.S. as the global’s preeminent financial power? China? The International Monetary Fund? The tag-team duo of France and Germany? A new tag team of the U.S. and China?
The G-20 summit in London may wind up short of specific cures for the current crisis, but in the long run the gathering of world leaders has at least made clear that Wall Street’s reckless behavior has hastened the end of American hegemony over the markets.
China, which features one of the finest authoritarian regimes in the world, was destined to claim a bigger role in the world economy anyway, given its conversion to consumerism and state-inspired capitalism. Western countries are hardly united anyway.
It wasn’t that long ago when China’s Communist Party vowed to crush capitalism. “We’ll destroy old world and build new,” this 1966 Cultural Revolution poster says, as a Chinese worker smashes a crucifix, a Buddha, and classical Chinese texts.
Now that collection of Communist conservatives, boasting more than a billion eager consumers, is more likely to bail out capitalism and seize control.
The most important private meeting during the G-20 may have been Barack Obama’s huddle with China’s Hu Jintao.