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With the decision of the power elite in Washington to accept a long, deep economic downturn and a slow, hesitant, low-inflation recovery, I think that the American Century may have finally come to an end.

Matthew Yglesias

Yglesias » Future Shock: The Economist did an interesting 2010 in charts feature to close the year out.... I think what we see is that for unclear reasons leaders in developed countries have basically given up on trying to have economic growth. The US, the Eurozone, and Japan are so terrified that real growth might lead to growth-imperiling inflation that we’ve just decided to live without the growth in the first place. To me this is also Tyler Cowen’s real message here. But if the developed world has decided it’s not interested in growth anymore, I think we can look forward to many more stories like this:

With a market share of 31.5 percent, Nokia is still the largest vendor of handsets in the Indian market, followed by Chinese brand G’Five with about 10 percent share, IDC said on Wednesday.

That’s via full-time professional mobile device market analyst Horace Dedieu who remarks: “No, I haven’t heard of G’Five either.”

Welcome to the teens.

Decline is a choice:

Matthew Yglesias » Decline is a Choice: I don’t think large real reductions in basic science and R&D are going to benefit America over the long haul, do you? Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told the AFP news agency that the spending cuts could translate into a five to ten percent cut in research and development in the science sector for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. “One big fear is that one version of the Republican agenda suggested bringing funding back to 2008 levels and that for science would be catastrophic,” said Leshner. “These kinds of budget cuts work against the ultimate national goals of restoring the US economy and its international prowess.”

Nearly all “competitor countries, including India, China and Korea, are increasing investments in science and engineering research, development, and education,” he added. “US funding looks like it could be heading the opposite direction.”

Don’t buy the “competitor countries” argument too much (though it may be useful for scaring House members), increased Asian spending on these things will have spillover benefits for the USA. But it’s absolutely perverse to respond to a cyclical downturn in economic activity by curtailing useful investments in long-term acquisition of knowledge. That’s how a pothole turns into a “car spinning out of control” scenario.