In May 2006 Michel Drancourt sounded the alarm bell in this journal over the very uncertain future of the American automotive giant General Motors. He returns this month to the question of the state of that company. General Motors is not dead, but it remains in a parlous situation and this marks a turning point in contemporary socio-economic history. In fact, with the decline of this emblematic leader in the automobile industry, it is, Drancourt informs us, the "American way of life" and the consumer society as conceived by Westerners over more than half a century that are seeing their foundations whittled away.
Michel Drancourt reminds us what made this near-century-old company successful; he then shows how a lack of foresight and an excess of confidence undermined that success, sending the company into a spiral of decline. In his view, that decline marks the end of an age - the era of triumphant America. The USA will have to give way to the emerging economies and, most importantly, accept the fact that the age of easy affluence is coming to an end, to be replaced by the era of scarce natural resources.