Last Days of Rome

A New Brave New World

No, it’s not that gloomy, but I couldn’t resist starting this new blog with that hackneyed headline. “Brave New World,” besides being a dystopian masterpiece, was the name of my old column on, which ran from 1996 to 2004–a blog before the word existed. I’m happy to take up the cause one again for Nouriel’s shop. But I digress …

I’m going to do that a lot, folks – digress — so get used to it. Bloggers have very few advantages over the old access-sensitive journalists of yore, paid a salary and wielding the name of their august newspaper or magazine to gain entry into the halls of power. Bloggers must survive on brains, not institutional brawn. So be it – I feel up to the task.

In my first post since moving out from under RGE’s roof on Morton Street, it makes sense to lay out a few fundamentals that will govern this blog. My profile and track record is readily available on my profile page – I won’t waste time with that. Take a look if you wish. I’ll just say, briefly, that I’ve worked for some of the great institutions of intellectual inquiry and journalism over the years, and that I have a reputation–like Nouriel–of being fairly good at sussing out the future.

That’s precisely what I hope to do in this blog, sometimes casting forward decades, other times merely raising concerns about how more contemporary policy decisions, events and arguments may play out. I’m a big believer in scenario analysis–a belief further strengthened by my time at RGE and exposure to Nouriel, Christian Menegatti and Arnab Das, among many others, on a daily basis. I can also be an iconoclast, and when my readers feel that instinct is getting the best of me, I’d ask them to call me on it. You may get a face full of comeback, but I’m never disingenuous.

My basic premise is this: America is hardly finished as a global power and will remain the most powerful and capable country in the world for at least another few decades. But America’s days of setting agendas, unilaterally forcing hands (or even keeping its own allies in line) are definitely over–not numbered, mind you–over.

American politicians have failed to  articulate the stakes to America’s friends abroad or to its own citizens.  These 21st century trends are eroding the advantages America has enjoyed since World War II. This includes our dominant financial markets and the dollar’s position as the global reserve currency; our leading position in  international organizations like the IMF and the United Nations; our unchallenged preeminence in military matters; right down to the appeal of American cultural exports.

All are eroding, in some cases quickly. We must immediately start managing the unraveling of the old model of global dominance and start arranging a soft-landing for the United States and its allies. Otherwise, America and its allies will be trapped in a harsher world where the U.S. can no longer dictate solutions to complex economic and foreign policy questions.
I’m a busy guy, so excuse me if I’m not posting daily or if it takes just a little time to respond to intelligent comments. (Get personal, and you get banned–that’s ironclad). But I’m a huge believer in the basic value of engaging with people who don’t agree with me. So, to quote the worst president in the history of this country, “bring it on.”


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