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The ugly truth about the US economy

On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer asked financial historian Adam Tooze: Did the US really have the greatest economy in the world?

There are pockets of incredible affluence, of great success, of technological prowess of world conquering corporate ambition. Think of the tech firms, think of the way in which American banks have swept European competition out of the way. America, corporate America, elite America is one of the great winners of globalization, unsurprisingly, since they were the architects of that project. Have acquired other people along the way. The Chinese now are major contributors.


But that just doesn't capture the reality of middle America, let alone the bottom 20% to 30% of the American income of wealth distribution who have seen barely any real income growth. There's a huge argument about the statistics, but there's very little real dispute about the fact that the real incomes of those at the bottom third have seen barely any progress since the Bicentennial. American history divides into two epochs. Moment of the American dream up to 1976 and the period since. What this crisis does is of course hit precisely the weakest communities. It hits those who are most fragile, whose health insurance is precarious, who are working part time jobs in the service sector. It hits women as well. And it turns out from a medical point of view, it's the African American population, all of which are groups also which have minimal financial resources. We know that 40% plus of American households can't basically cover expenses for more than a few months without a paycheck and have precious little financial reserve, basically no net wealth. So those people are going to suffer a fundamental shock here. And this idea of rebuilding, really or making them whole begs the question of what it is that we would plan to return to because they weren't whole in the first place.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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