Opinion: (Stella Dawson, Reuters): “Dysfunctional politics threatens to deliver a protracted period of slow global growth, possibly lasting well beyond 2012, which will only deepen the political and economic problems for the West.
“Niall Ferguson, a prominent economic historian now at Harvard, calls this an historic power shift.
“’For the better part of 500 years, it was Westerners on both sides of the Atlantic who could say that they had the best economic system, that they developed the best political system and so forth. And those claims have sounded increasingly hollow in our time,’ Ferguson said in an interview.
“The breakdown in public confidence caused by the financial crisis has revealed a deeper problem. ‘What we’re seeing in government is part of a wider crisis of Western institutions,’ he said.
“Heather Conley, a former U.S. Under Secretary of State for European Affairs, now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said this near political paralysis seen in the United States and Europe is common when governments are at an inflection point.
“’Without decisive direction and leadership, we march in place or attempt to muddle through, uncertain of which path to take. The West is at such a moment,’ she said.
“’Only an external shock I fear will force us to take the uncertain (new) path. Or we will become so frustrated that the West will choose leaders who will take us in a radically new direction.’”