What form will the backlash against lightly regulated capitalism take in the US? I ponder the question is this piece for the FT's Analysis page:

Even before the worst financial crisis since the 1930s bore down on the US this summer, the country seemed poised for an ideological shift. The administration of President George W. Bush was immensely unpopular. Anti-trade and anti-business sentiment was on the rise and both main political parties, in different ways, were responding.

The technocratic market-friendly liberalism espoused by Bill Clinton and the New Democrats was already much less prominent in Barack Obama's presidential campaign. As the country's economic difficulties have worsened, the pro-market theme has not so much subsided as disappeared. Mr Obama now is far more likely to talk about the bankruptcy of "trickle-down economics" than the need for competition and incentives.

John McCain, the Republican candidate, has yielded nothing to his opponent in the stridency of his recent denunciations of "Wall Street greed". The administration, meanwhile, has been forced to swallow what remained of its rhetorical commitment to market forces and deregulation with a $250bn bank recapitalisation - a plan that Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary, described as "objectionable" but necessary.

Where might this lead? Does the present upheaval, as some have speculated, point to the end of a distinctively American capitalism? On the whole, this seems unlikely - though the pressures on "American exceptionalism" have rarely looked so strong.

Read on here.

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