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Happy 520-point Dow Jones Industrial Index Plunge Day, everybody! (No, this is not a repeat from Friday or Monday, but it is the opposite of Tuesday.) How might perceptions of the United States change now that the United States is a morally/financially bankrupt land of angry slobs who just had their Hoverounds repo’d by John Boehner? Reuters has the surprising (obvious) answer:

The narrow U.S. escape from default and its credit downgrade have added to a perception that the United States is in decline, a view that could weaken Washington’s influence abroad.

While such assessments are partly subjective, the spectacle of Washington waiting until the last moment last week to raise the debt ceiling and of Standard & Poors’ then taking away its coveted AAA credit rating have buttressed the case of those who argue that U.S. power, in relative terms, is declining.

Other, more apologetic experts argue that while the USA has indeed fallen as all empires fall, “compared to what?” is also a good question, as the U.K. burns and Europe goes bankrupt and Japan is in its second or third decade of economic collapse and decline. But then the other experts say, “Compared to China, obviously. We are talking about superpowers, not other failed societies.” [Reuters]

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