Behind the paralysis in Washington and prevarication in Berlin lies a troubling thought. Political systems in thrall to 24-hour rolling news have lost the capacity to make difficult choices. Globalisation imposes wrenching change and simultaneously saps the ability of governments to adapt. Politicians find it easier to argue about taxing the rich or cutting Medicare and about central bank bond purchases versus default than to confront the consequences for western societies of the profound upheaval in the global economy.
So it is tempting to say all is lost ”“ that a political and economic model built on western primacy is cracking under the strain of the shifting balance of international advantage. The American dream and European welfare state are bending to the competitive winds of globalisation.
Tempting but premature. It is too early to despair. What makes the crises in Washington and Europe so infuriating is the fact that, for all they demand hard decisions, they are susceptible to political solution. The missing ingredient is leadership.