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US flunked stress test, and more failure on way

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-17 10:17

People queue for a COVID-19 test as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in Manhattan, New York City, US, Dec 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

BEIJING-The United States faced endless pain in 2021, with everything from the US Capitol riot in Washington to yet again surging COVID-19 numbers, an inglorious military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the continuing scourge of gun violence across the country.

Yet risks and chaos in different fields of the country show no sign of abating this year and may well spill over to affect other countries, dampening the world's recovery from the pandemic.

The fast-spreading novel coronavirus continues to have an impact on nearly every aspect of the US, the country worst hit by the pandemic, with the world's largest caseload and highest death toll, all to some degree because of federal and state politicians being at loggerheads over how to tackle the virus.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the US topped 65.4 million on Sunday.

The New York Times reported that the pandemic is indeed eroding the trust the public has placed in their government, adding that the deadly pandemic has proved to be a nearly two-year "stress test that the US flunked".

Gun violence is another instance of government failure. Nationwide last year 44,750 people died from gun crimes. A dismal reality is that Americans mourn for the victims after each mass shooting, while the country is still mired in a long debate over gun control.

While President Joe Biden has used various opportunities to call for unity, division runs deep through US politics. US media, such as The Washington Post, are deeply concerned about the polarization of American society, with some even asking whether the US faces a "second civil war".

During the pandemic, protests against medical experts' advice and anti-epidemic measures have been frequent, the country becoming more and more polarized. As a result of politicization of all kinds of issues, extreme political sentiment has been fomented, raising the specter of political violence, best illustrated by the storming of the US Capitol on Jan 6 last year that left five dead.

The US economy also faces more uncertainty amid the pandemic.

The American Bankers Association's economic advisory committee says the country's economic growth is expected to slow from an inflation-adjusted 5.5 percent in 2021 to 3.3 percent in 2022.

Further risks

The vulnerability of the US economy was also fully exposed when its consumer price index rose seven percent last year, the highest rise since 1982, the country's labor department said.

The rapid spread of Omicron has imposed further risks on the employment market, causing supply-chain disruptions and adding uncertainty to the country's economy, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said.

To stimulate its economy, the US introduced easy monetary policies last year, driving up prices and exporting inflation risks across the world.

The withdrawal of the US military in Afghanistan in August was fresh proof of the US' ability to produce chaos rather than calm in the name of protecting world peace and stability.

Over the years the US has sought to maintain its global sway by forging alliances with unsavory regimes and by fanning confrontation, at the same time wielding its national strength to curb other countries' economic, scientific and technological aspirations through the likes of sanctions and waving a big stick at others.


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