The disintegration of the Soviet Union and drastic changes in the Eastern European countries in the 1990s helped the United States become the only superpower in the world and the leading advocate of globalization.
However, the country's subprime woes that began last summer have led to a grave credit crisis gripping Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the largest two mortgage lenders in the US. People are now concerned the US subprime crisis may develop into a credit calamity.
As analysts around the world warned about the prospect of a US economic recession and began worrying about a global tide of inflation surging back and causing another round of economic stagnation, the US economy managed to recover just a little bit recently.
According to official statistics released in mid-August, the 15 euro-zone economies saw their second-quarter growth drop by an average of 0.2 percent while Japan's gross domestic product (GDP) also fell.
Although the US economy was hurt by the credit crisis, it fared not as badly as the ones of the European Union (EU) and Japan. The main reason for this is that the sharp depreciation of the US dollar allowed the country's export to increase, bringing the economy along with it.
The EU member countries, meanwhile, found many of their financial institutions burdened by increased bad debt resulting from large amounts of US subprime and real estate bonds in their possession on the one hand and hurt by flagging export, thanks to a strong euro, on the other. This led to the reality that the euro-zone countries felt the subprime pain more than the US did.
The fact is the US manufacturing industry is still on top of the world. Its semiconductor-related sectors outnumber China's three times by output volume, while its aviation and automobile industries remain far ahead of the rest of the world anyway one looks at them. When the greenback took a nosedive, the country's advantage in export came into full play and brought the US economy back to life.
When these factors were reflected in the market, the US dollar rose by 7.6 percent against the euro within a week to a record $1.45 to a euro. This was after the British pound suffered an 11-day downslide against the US dollar, the longest in 37 years.
Not long ago people were worried that the US economy was going into recession and its inflation rate would climb up. As the prices of bulk commodities such as oil and grain soared, the US core inflation index also went higher.
For example, the US consumer price index (CPI) in July surged by 5.6 percent from a year earlier, the largest increase in 17 years. Despite the ominous numbers, however, a Bloomberg survey found that 79 percent of investors agreed the US inflation rate would come down in the fourth quarter. Will things really turn out this way?
When Alan Greenspan was chairman of the Federal Reserve a few years back, he generously eased monetary control in order to mitigate the damage done by the 2001 bursting of the tech-bubble to the US stock market. The measure consequently gave birth to the real estate bubble. When the latter bubble burst in 2007, Greenspan's successor Benjamin S. Bernanke followed the same prescription and created a futures bubble.
Oil is the most representative of commodities traded on the futures market and also a strategic resource. The skyrocketing oil price has caused a profound change in the international strategic configuration.
The Russian economy was set back many years with much of its national strength gone in the early days of the post-Cold War era, but the soaring price of oil on the global market propelled Russia back into the position as a major player on world stage with newly-regained strength.