A Piece From Berlin

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I am writing this from Berlin, where I am visiting my youngest daughter who works here.  I first came to Berlin in the 1980’s – driving through an East Germany that appeared stuck in the 1950s.

Whilst here international news has been dominated by Donald Trump. Indeed, you almost get the impression that the he thinks D-Day is all about him. When he was elected, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but his record has shown him to be a man lacking statecraft, dignity, and in spirit. Here is a man who denigrates NATO, looks to weaken the European Union, and is an apologist for white supremacists in his own country. In less than two and a half years he has stripped the Presidential office of dignity, values, honesty, and stature. Over recent months he has probably done more to accelerate America’s decline than any other person in history.

I’m old enough to remember the USA in the early 1980’s. A global power with a statesmanship grip on foreign policy, albeit one that was a little confused at times. it was a time when US unemployment topped 10%, the highest since the Great Depression, and the recession was one of the worst in history. Manufacturing was in decline, and much of what was produced was out-dated. Eventually lower oil prices and lower interest rates stimulated the economy through consumer spending and as we entered the new millennium the US dominated through the rise of the internet and the globalisation of brands such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

President Trump’s recent actions has made the world realise their reliance on American technology and will accelerate a move away from their chips, patents, software, and other technology. In this regard it does not really matter whether Huawei is a threat to world security, or simply a threat to Apple, the truth is that going forward the rest of the world may well put America last in respect of their technology requirements.

The implications for Jersey are interesting. World peace during my lifetime has been achieved by the strength of European Union and the strength of NATO – both under threat. Global expansion has been fuelled by free trade and supply side economics keeping prices and interest rates low. Again, now under threat. When economies slow, unemployment rises and the public look for someone to blame. Politicians instinctively look for excuses that are both credible and won’t upset any domestic voters. Expect increasing unjustified attacks on offshore financial centres as a direct consequence of the above.

 

Written by Ben Shenton, published in the JEP, 12th June 2019.