Is the American Dream a Thing of the Past?


Throughout the past decades and centuries, the concept of the ‘American Dream’ has been a largely nebulous one. For some, it represents the idea of the white picket fence and a big house with a pool in the back yard.

For others, it represents the absolute freedom that is emblematic of the American ideal. Still more believe the American Dream is the basic principle that each new generation should be more prosperous than the last.

While these different versions of the American Dream are, at best, inconsistent, one common thread is that the United States of America represents a beacon of economic opportunity, plenty, and prosperity. For much of the past century, that much has held true.

The US has historically enjoyed the fastest wage growth, the highest nominal GDP, and the highest consumer spending out of any other country in the world, by far. However, there are increasing signs on the horizon that this common understanding of the American Dream might just be a thing of the past if it ever truly existed at all. 

What the Declining Dollar Says About the American Dream

If the American Dream is synonymous with American economic superiority, then that ship has arguably sailed. The US dollar, a global reserve currency that international investors and traders have historically seen as a ‘safe haven’, has been in free fall this year. But what does this say about American prosperity?

As this guide on how to trade forex explains, the value of a country’s currency relative to others is often a sign of confidence in that country’s economy. As the US now faces mass unemployment, skyrocketing debt, and stagnant social mobility, the value of the US dollar relative to other currencies has plummeted.

Compare this to the situation in Europe, where the value of the euro compared to the US dollar has begun to rise, and it is clear that the global investor class no longer sees America as the ‘safe haven’ of stability, opportunity, and prosperity that it once was. 

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What Emblems of the American Dream Are Left Today?

While the US might be facing an unprecedented economic crisis and a historic fall in living standards, that does not mean that the American Dream is truly dead and buried. The US has gone through plenty of economic shocks before, often bouncing back stronger than ever.

One does not need to look far to see evidence of an American Dream that is still alive. There is Silicon Valley, the global heart of the high-tech industry, where American innovation produces products that are used by billions.

What’s more, Silicon Valley, for all of its inequities, has also been shown to be a place of rapid social mobility, where those with talent and the right idea can rise to the top, regardless of background. There is America’s world-class education system, stacked with the best universities on the planet, which educate people from all backgrounds and virtually every country on Earth.

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There is also the simple fact that, despite the recent turmoil, America remains the largest and most influential economy in the world by a long shot, with little sign of this supremacy fading in the near-term. This aspect of the American Dream – America as a global beacon of wealth and prosperity – will remain for some time to come.

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