Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Looking at the history of trade, the economic elite have usually lived in a "Global Economy" through the transportation of high-value goods.  The Silk Road was the means by which luxury goods were transported across Eurasia.  The Viking trade routes across northern Europe and down the Russian river to Byzantium.  The Spice Trade of the 16th century.  

As the trade routes became better known and technology improved, compare the knorr of the Vikings to the clipper ships on the tea run, it became profitable to ship 'down market' goods and eventually mass-market goods.  One decided benefit to this process was a local crop failure no longer meant local starvation as was common previously.

Today, of course, everything is shipped everywhere.

I argue the economic hardship of the 1930s created a hiccup in a long standing trend.  We're not at the end of an Era but, rather, entering a period when the international trade system is being subjected to feedback shocks such as rising fuel costs, relocation of product points of origination, and systematic financial shocks such as the fall in the US dollar.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 10:02:31 AM EST
The early trade systems were much more limited in scope as the market for "high value" items was, at first, limited largely to ruling elites. This market expanded and differentiated during the early modern era to merchants, tradesmen and an expanding group who buttressed the newly  more complex societies, such as lawyers, clerks, sea captains and army officers.  But this remained a small portion of the total population.

It has only been in the 20th century that a large portion of the population could earn enough to be able to purchase high value items such as automobiles.  In the USA, post-WWII prosperity was built on higher wages for the working population.  That is what is changing in the USA.  The distribution of wealth has reverted back to levels not seen since 1929.  Real income is declining for the great majority of families.

In their greed, political and economic elites in the USA have adopted policies which treat the entire USA as a disposable item of consumption from which they can extract the maximum wealth in the short term.  They see their wealth as mobile, owing no national allegiance.  But power is not so context free.  Kuwait could not liberate itself from Saddam with its "Fund for the Future" alone.  That required the military forces of the USA and Europe.

In what context will those elites represented by the Bush Administration enjoy the benefits of their wealth when they have succeeded in extracting all portable wealth from the USA and left a hollow shell behind?  How will they protect that wealth?  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 12:14:56 PM EST
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