At a moment of renewed financial market turmoil, a historic downgrade of US government debt and gathering signs that the recovery has stalled, the capacity of Washington to act with deliberation has seemingly collapsed. This convergence is no accident. Washington’s performance in recent months – reaching its nadir in the phoney resolution of the debt-ceiling fiasco – is one reason why confidence is so depressed. Can this circle of anxiety and incapacity be broken? Yes. Bad as the position may seem, it is not hopeless.
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