Tension between the US and China is driving much of what is happening in the markets today. The analysis has focused on tariffs, currency manipulation, strategic technologies and which country has the most to win or lose in a trade war.
But there is a more important question to be asked when thinking about the future success and stability of each nation: which country will be better able to control its moneyed elites?
In his 1982 work The Rise and Decline of Nations, the economist Mancur Olson argues that civilisations tend to decline when the moneyed interests take over politics. That has clearly happened in both countries, where the levels of wealth inequality are not dissimilar; the top 1 per cent in China own about 30 per cent of the economy; in the US, the figure is 42 per cent.