Harvard historian: China will be next superpower

Historians in the News

The American appetite for credit is likely to be the undoing of the world's greatest power, a prominent conservative Harvard University historian told several hundred midshipmen last night at the Naval Academy.

Speaking at the 30th annual Bancroft Lecture, economic historian Niall Ferguson warned that China is about to overtake the United States as the world's superpower.

"The U.S. has fatally underestimated its biggest rival," Ferguson said.

"Most of the history of the United States is not (important) for where you are now," Ferguson told the midshipmen of the radical new world he is seeing as power shifts from the West back to the East, reversing the ascendancy of the West that began roughly 500 years ago.

The underlying problem is that as much as 20 percent of the federal budget could go to pay off the national debt each year for decades to come, Ferguson said. One unintended result will be that defense budgets will be tight for the next 20 to 30 years, or roughly the duration of today's Naval Academy midshipmen's military careers.

"Your (national) interest payments are going to go off the charts and eat the defense budget for lunch," Ferguson said...

... "During your careers, the U.S. will cease to be the biggest economy in the world," Ferguson told the midshipmen.

Ferguson said President Barack Obama has done a good job of softening the blow of the current recession, and he blamed Congress for a tradition of excessive spending...

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