Bring some sense to Washington

Commentaire provenant de Chine sur le comportement des politiciens du Sud.

Extrait de: Bring some sense of global responsibility to brinkmanship-obsessed Washington, Special Report: U.S. Debt Crisis, by Deng Yushan, 2011-07-28

BEIJING, July 28 (Xinhua) -- When countries across the world hold breath watching the debt negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans in Washington, they are once again "kidnapped" by U.S. domestic politics.

As the Aug. 2 deadline approaches for Washington to raise its borrowing limit and avoid a catastrophic debt default, deeply divided U.S. politicians remain stubbornly engaged in what is widely seen as a game of chicken.

Given the United States' status as the world's largest economy and the issuer of the dominant international reserve currency, such political brinkmanship in Washington is dangerously irresponsible, for it risks, among other consequences, strangling the still fragile economic recovery of not only the United States but also the world as a whole.

Analysts worldwide have already painted a grim picture. Although an exact outcome of a Washington unable to pay its bills is yet to be known, they warn that a U.S. default would trigger massive repercussions throughout global financial markets.

In that case, the analysts say, developing economies would suffer a traumatic blow, and the world economy would plunge into yet another recession on the heels of the one that struck in 2008 and also originated in the United States -- only the mess could be much nastier this time. Stock markets around the world have already displayed some signs of nervousness.

For the time being, numerous media reports, citing a variety of opinion polls, have shown that most investors across the globe are banking on a last-minute compromise between the United States' two main political parties.

Meanwhile, both Democratic and Republican leaders have repeatedly vowed not to allow their country to go into default, attesting to the popular speculation that they are just trying to secure maximum political gain from the bargaining before it is too late to reach a deal.

However, as the Western proverb goes, do not count your chickens before they are hatched. A plethora of factors could just pop up and jumble those politicians' calculus, making the negotiating process spin out of control and leaving the world economy tumbling in the shock waves.

It is arguably true that the ongoing tug of war in Washington is Uncle Sam's own business, as the United States has not yet defaulted on its debt. However, the ugliest part of the saga is that the well-being of many other countries is also in the impact zone when the donkey and the elephant fight. The potential collateral damage is way too heavy.

With leadership comes responsibility. It is unfortunate and disappointing that when political leaders in Washington spar over who is doing good for their country, they take little account of the world's economic soundness.

What makes their indifference to the global good even harder to understand is the plain fact that a healthy world economy benefits all of the residents in the global village, including those politicians' constituents.

That said, as the clock ticks toward the time limit, U.S. Democrats and Republicans should incorporate a global dimension in their negotiations and conclude their political jockeying as soon as possible so as to restore the already shaken international investor confidence and strengthen the foundation of the fledgling U.S. and world economic recovery.

Meanwhile, even if the United States and the world economy do ride out the current game of brinkmanship relatively unscathed, Washington needs to conduct an in-depth self-examination.

Two subjects are of pressing urgency:

1.      How can Washington shake off electoral politics and get difficult jobs done more efficiently?

2.      And how can U.S. politicians improve their mindset so that they will care at least a bit more about the rest of the world when handling domestic affairs with global reverberations?

Another ready topic is the United States' debt addiction. With its debt approximating its annual economic output, it is time for Washington to revisit the time-tested common sense that one should live within one's means.