Date of Original Version



Working Paper

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Abstract or Description

The “American Century” is ending. After World War II, American power, inventiveness, creativity, and economic, military, and financial strength was unchallenged in a class by themselves. The United States proposed military and economic strategies to avoid war, contain the Soviet Union, and prevent a return to the destructive economic policies of the interwar years. The institutions that embodied and carried out these policies succeeded. They prevented a major war in Europe, ended the threat from the Soviet Union, opened most of the world economy to trade, fostered prosperity, expansion of economic activity, reductions in poverty, and increased economic and financial stability. More people in more places increased living standards, health, educational attainment, and longevity.

That period is ending. The international institutions that sustained the successful policy no longer enjoy general acceptance. A large part of the U.S. electorate no longer supports the policy consensus that sustained the policies and contributed to its success.