“One thing seems probable to me,” Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, said recently. “The U.S. will lose its status as the superpower of the global financial system.” At another time, that remark might have sounded like mere nationalist bluster. Right now, it doesn’t seem so ridiculous to ask whether 2008 will come to be seen as the first year of a distinctly non-American century.
The political language of both presidential campaigns makes clear that many voters, for all the current pessimism, still believe in the idea of American pre-eminence.
—David Leonhardt, “A Power That May Not Stay So Super,” NYTimes.com, October 11, 2008