Peerless and Periled: The Paradox of American Leadership in the World Economic Order

Synopsis

As the world economy emerges from the financial crisis, critics are announcing an end of the American era. The United States is said to be in an inexorable decline, and the expectation for the 21st century is for China to eclipse America and for the contours of global governance to blur. The loss of America's preeminent status will undercut our sway abroad and our safety and standard of living at home. But is America really done? Is the American era really over?

In this provocative account, based on interviews with senior policymakers and cutting-edge research, Kati Suominen argues that talk of the end of Pax Americana is more smoke than fire. The international crisis did not fundamentally change the way the world is run. The G20 is but an American-created sequel to the G8, the US dollar still reigns supreme, and no country has resigned from the US-built, post-war financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund. This continuity reflects an absence of alternatives; there are no rival orders that would match the growth and globalization generated by leaving the United States at the helm.

But Washington has no time for complacency. The American order is peerless, but it is also imperiled. To transcend this critical moment in history, the United States must step up and lead. Only America can uphold its order. In an interdependent world economy of rising powers, the US must stand for strategic multilateralism: striking deals with pivotal powers to tame destabilizing financial imbalances, securing free and fair markets abroad for US banks and businesses, and transforming the IMF and emerging Asian and European financial schemes into rapid responders to instability.