(Mar 20): As markets gyrate and the world faces the possibility of a punishing recession, comparisons to the last global economic crisis are inevitable. The financial collapse of 2008 was not simply an economic shock, it was also a profound strategic shock to American power.

Assuming the coronavirus ends up hitting the world’s democracies as hard as many predict, it could deal another staggering blow to the US and the international order it leads. If we now look back on 2008 as the end of America’s unchallenged post-Cold War primacy, we might one day look back on 2020 as the moment when Washington’s global authority truly began to buckle.

It is hard to remember now, but the two decades after the Cold War were a golden era for American power. Washington was geopolitically supreme; democratic practices and institutions had spread more widely than ever before. The dynamic US economy was leading the world into an era of ever-deeper and seemingly ever-more-profitable globalisation.

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