In 2013, downbeat domestic attitudes coupled with reticence about international engagement poses challenges for a world that still may need a strong United States.
While nearly two-thirds of Americans describe relations between the U.S. and China as good, most are concerned about China’s growing economic strength. Compared with the general public, U.S. foreign affairs experts are less likely to see China as an economic threat and less concerned about Beijing’s rising power.
The economic euphoria in India over the last few years, inspired by the country’s seemingly inevitable march toward double-digit growth, has soured. Although still relatively upbeat compared with many other countries, the Indian public’s confidence in their country’s direction and future economic growth has declined significantly.
The emerging economies account for an increasing share of the globe’s billionaires. But widespread public attitudes can wield far more influence over an economy than the wealth of a few hundred people. While people polled in the US and Europe are pessimistic about their future prospects, citizens of the emerging economies, especially China and Brazil, are optimistic about their own national economies and personal wealth.
The economic mood is exceedingly glum around the world. Across the 21 countries surveyed, a median of just 27 percent think their national economy is doing well. Only in China, Germany, Brazil and Turkey do most people report that current national economic conditions are good.
In Europe, there is a crisis of confidence in the economy, in the future, in the benefits of European economic integration, in EU membership, in the euro and in the free market system. The crisis has also exposed sharp differences between some Europeans, especially the Germans and Greeks.
On the eve of the first presidential election of the post-Mubarak era, Egyptians remain hopeful about the future of their country, and they strongly desire both an improved economy and the democratic freedoms they were denied under the previous regime.