One of the consequences of the 2007 global financial crisis has been an acceleration in the shift away from the traditional 19th and 20th century industrial powers toward a new emerging center of economic power in the world. The debt heavy and slow growth economies of Europe and the U.S. are now dependant on investments and exports from the emerging economies of the so-called BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China. That shift is reflected in the influence China and India are having at this week's G20 Summit in Cannes, France. The U.S. is no longer the grand mediator in global affairs, and the era of the single superpower ushered in at the end of the Cold War in 1989 now appears to be over.
Yesterday, U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, to discuss the challenges facing global markets after a tumultuous week for the U.S. economy. China's stock market plunged on Monday (along with the U.S.'s), following the news that Standard and Poor downgraded America's credit rating. Chinese investors are concerned that the current poor economic climate in the U.S. will lead to decreased demand for Chinese exports. China is the largest U.S. foreign creditor, but over the weekend on Chinese websites many people were calling for China to invest less money in the U.S.
Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in what seemed to be a victorious day for capitalism. We look back 20 years while countries around the world today continue capitalist experiments and attempt to weather the current economic crisis. Meanwhile, a new BBC World Service poll says that only the U.S. and Pakistan believe capitalism is working today. We speak to Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson, author of "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World."