Saturday, 4 July 2009

Can You See By The Dawn's Early Light?

Just how independent is the USA? Like most parts of the world a whole lot less than it used to be, much less than many of its citizens believe, and it may now be arriving at the point at which its constitution may be adjusting, informally, to the world as it really is. The major source of energy and the primary base of much of its industry is oil, and it is now around thirty years since the USA was self sufficient.

The USA moved into the car and truck age long before other nations. During World War II, when many developed countries had their capability reduced, the USA even expanded. The whole way of life now depends on fuels for vehicles. So does the food supply chain, not just in distribution and delivery, but in the actual growing of crops with all the pesticides and fertilisers.

The USA needs and will need more food as its population grows. In the past the USA may have been one of the bread baskets and major food exporters of the world, it will not be long before it will begin to import, and then depend on stocks from other countries, especially if for either climate or soil degradation reasons the yields begin to fall from its own fields. Also, the way things are, it could take only one scientific blunder by Monsanto to wreak havoc in the food industry. Is anyone taking bets?

Follow the money is an old American proverb, but since World War II the money, in international terms has followed America, in the shape of the dollar. It used to be the pound sterling, until the UK went broke during World War II, and amongst the reasons for seeking freedom around the old Empire, getting away from the pound was one of the more important considerations. The USA is now a debtor nation, and a big one, and the money markets through history do not like to depend on a base currency that relates to an economically unstable, unpredictable, debt laden state.

As the drift away from the dollar gatherers pace it is not easy to predict the results. Certainly it will reduce US influence, and require it to take more account of others. For many countries the uncertainty of the currency markets will present real issues of policy making about their economic future. For all the talk of this, that or the other, it is possible it might all become very unstable, with the USA being one bidder amongst many for whatever funds might be available.

For finance as a whole, for a time Wall Street and the City of London have called the shots, and between them turned all the world’s banks into one big system. Now it could be that neither can do this as much of their banking sector is nationalised, and under severe stress. If others can control the money, you cannot be independent. Especially, if for your energy, your food, your consumer goods, and a lot else you are reliant on imports.

Enjoy the holiday, cousins.

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