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Who Will Eclipse America?

A few years ago, some regarded Japan as having overtaken the US, and Europe, too, was supposedly vying for global economic dominance. Now it's China's turn – and it suffers from the same vulnerabilities that have stymied Europe and Japan.

WASHINGTON, DC – According to Voltaire, the Roman Empire fell “because all things fall.” It is hard to argue with this as a general statement about decline: nothing lasts forever. But it is also not very useful. In thinking, for example, about American predominance in the world today, it would be nice to know when it will decline, and whether the United States can do anything to postpone the inevitable.

Contemporary commenters despaired of the Roman Empire for several hundred years before it finally collapsed. Could America find its way to a similar extension?

In terms of providing an essential structure for discussion of this problem, Arvind Subramanian’s new book, Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance, is a major contribution. (Full disclosure: Subramanian and I are colleagues at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and we have worked together on other issues.)

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