The Coronavirus and World Leadership

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world and deaths from Covid-19 continue to grow, experts are debating how the pandemic will affect world leadership (see here and here) in the future.

The U.S. has had by far the largest number of infections compared to other countries.  Other countries with high numbers of infections (Spain, Italy, France Germany and the UK) are in Western Europe. Western Europe and the U.S. represent the most advanced countries of the world in terms of economic growth and personal freedom.  These countries have wide open societies and attract the greatest number of visitors.  This makes them more vulnerable to contagion from outside.

As the number of daily new infections in the U.S. begins to stabilize, at about 30,000, and should soon start to decrease, the most urgent question facing U.S. leadership is when to reopen the economy.  Too soon could lead to a relapse and too slowly will simply prolong the economic misery. General guidelines for reopening the economy have been proposed by experts. 

The U.S. has far and away the world’s strongest economy and very strong political institutions as well.  Although there certainly are pessimists about U.S. leadership going forward, I think that such pessimism is unfounded.

But we are now faced with a critical new test for U.S. leadership.  The most valuable contribution the U.S. can make to the well being of the entire world right now is to revive its own economy as quickly as possible without suffering a Covid-19 relapse.  In other words, the best thing we can do not only for ourselves, but also for the rest of the world, is to return our own economy back to the high level (with only 3.5% unemployment) at which it was performing as recently as February of this year.  Just by focusing primarily on our own recovery, the U.S. has the economic and financial clout to pull the whole world out of a prolonged coronavirus recession.

Conclusion.  The U.S. is hardly in a state of decline.  But it does now have an urgent new challenge, to get past the pandemic crisis as soon as possible, by reviving the economy to its previous high level.

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