martes, noviembre 23, 2004

La decadencia (transitoria?) del imperio (americano)

No es una buena noticia, pero está pasando. El Imperio muestra signos de flaqueza. Aunque, provablemente, la cosa será transitoria. He hecho una recopilación de artículos que he leído últimamente en torno a este tema en los àmbitos de nivel cultural/científico, social y económico (más abajo os los reproduzco o los linko). Además hay que añadir el daño que puede llegar a hacer para la innovación tecnològica el bloqueo de fronteras que ha promovido la administración Bush desde el 11S: están perdiendo la capacidad de atraer talento a marchas forzadas. Aunque parece que en esto ya están reaccionando, como apunta el artículo 4 de la recopilación.

Índice de artículos:

Why the U.S. Will Become a Second-Rate Power (basado en el hecho que apunta la última encuesta de Gallup: 2/3 partes de los estadounidenses no cree en las teorías de la evolución de Darwin, ellos, muy seguros de si mismos, apuestan por el creacionismo [de Dios, se supone....])
2. The Persuaders (reportaje de la PBS americana sobre cómo el Marketing aplicado en la política se està cargando aquella "Democracia en América" que Tocqueville tan bien narró)
3. Economic 'Armageddon' predicted by Morgan Stanley chief economist
(el economista jefe de Morgan Stanley pronostica una debacle de aupa para los USA en el medio plazo. Eso sí, lo hace en privado...)
4. Congress Makes Room for More Foreigners for High-Tech Jobs (relajación de las condiciones de entrada para extranjeros a los USA para trabajos de alta tecnología. Si es que de tontos no tienen un pelo, oiga!)

1. Why the U.S. Will Become a Second-Rate Power

Gallup Poll: Third of Americans Say Evidence Has Supported Darwin's Evolution Theory. Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.


2. The Persuaders
November 9, 2004

Excerpt from

In "The Persuaders," FRONTLINE explores how the cultures of marketing
and advertising have come to influence not only what Americans buy,
but also how they view themselves and the world around them. The
90-minute documentary draws on a range of experts and observers of
the advertising/marketing world, to examine how, in the words of one
on-camera commentator, "the principal of democracy yields to the
practice of demography," as highly customized messages are delivered
to a smaller segment of the market.

Take the 2004 presidential sweepstakes for example. Both the
Republicans and the Democrats were prepared to go to extraordinary
lengths to custom craft their messages. "What politicians do is
tailor their message to each demographic group," says Peter Swire,
professor of law at Ohio State University and an expert on Internet
policy. "That meansŠAmericans will live in different virtual
universes. What's wrong with living in different universes? You never
confront the other side. You don't have to deal with the
uncomfortable facts that go against your worldviewŠ.It hardens the
partisanship that's been such a feature of recent American politics."

FRONTLINE analyzes the 2004 campaign where, for the first time, the
latest techniques in narrowcasting were put into effect. The
antithesis of traditional broadcasting, narrowcasting involves
crafting and delivering tailored messages to individual voters based
on their demographic profiles.

Political marketers are just now discovering new ways to use the
techniques that have long been employed by the private sector.
FRONTLINE visits Acxiom, the largest data mining company in the
world, where vast farms of computers hold detailed information about
nearly every adult in America. Data mining, a practice that predicts
likely behavior based on factors such as age, income, and shopping
habits, has been the gold standard of commercial advertisers. Acxiom
promises its clients a better way to target their messages to
individual consumers.


Watch online


3. Economic 'Armageddon' predicted
By Brett Arends/ On State Street
Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant
Morgan Stanley, has a public reputation for being bearish. But
you should hear what he's saying in private.

Roach met select groups of fund managers downtown last week,
including a group at Fidelity. His prediction: America has no
better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic

Press were not allowed into the meetings. But the Herald has
obtained a copy of Roach's presentation. A stunned source who
was at one meeting said, ``it struck me how extreme he was -
much more, it seemed to me, than in public.''

Roach sees a 30 percent chance of a slump soon and a 60 percent
chance that ``we'll muddle through for a while and delay the
eventual armageddon.'' The chance we'll get through OK: one in
10. Maybe.

In a nutshell, Roach's argument is that America's record trade
deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners
buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation,
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise
interest rates further and faster than he wants.

The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their
eyeballs, will get pounded. Less a case of ``Armageddon,''
maybe, than of a ``Perfect Storm.''

Roach marshalled alarming facts to support his argument. To
finance its current account deficit with the rest of the world,
he said, America has to import $2.6 billion in cash. Every
working day. That is an amazing 80 percent of the entire world's
net savings. Sustainable? Hardly.

Meanwhile, he notes that household debt is at record
levels. Twenty years ago the total debt of U.S. households was
equal to half the size of the economy. Today the figure is 85
percent. Nearly half of new mortgage borrowing is at flexible
interest rates, leaving borrowers much more vulnerable to rate

Americans are already spending a record share of disposable
income paying their interest bills. And interest rates haven't
even risen much yet. You don't have to ask a Wall Street
economist to know this, of course. Watch people wielding their
credit cards this Christmas.

Roach's analysis isn't entirely new. But recent events give it
extra force. The dollar is hitting fresh lows against currencies
from the yen to the euro. Its parachute failed to open over the
weekend, when a meeting of the world's top finance ministers
produced no promise of concerted intervention. It has farther to
fall, especially against Asian currencies, analysts agree. The
Fed chairman was drawn to warn on the dollar, and interest
rates, on Friday.

Roach could not be reached for comment yesterday. A source who
heard the presentation concluded that a ``spectacular wave of
bankruptcies'' is possible.

Smart people downtown agree with much of the analysis. It is
undeniable that America is living in a ``debt bubble'' of record
proportions. But they argue there may be an alternative scenario
to Roach's. Greenspan might instead deliberately allow the
dollar to slump and inflation to rise, whittling away at the
value of today's consumer debts in real terms.

Inflation of 7 percent a year halves ``real'' values in a
decade. It may be the only way out of the trap. Higher interest
rates, or higher inflation: Either way, the biggest losers will
be long-term lenders at fixed interest rates.

You wouldn't want to hold 30-year Treasuries, which today yield
just 4.83 percent.


4. Congress Makes Room for More Foreigners for High-Tech Jobs
The spending bill Congress pushed through over the weekend includes a provision that will increase the number of foreign high-tech workers that U.S. companies can hire each year. Critics say the measure will make it more difficult tech workers to find jobs.

por Oriol Lloret Albert