The most belligerent Goat drafted into the Government by Gordon Brown has launched a scathing attack on US business.

Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham, trade and investment minister in the Government Of All Talents, has warned that the US is lagging years behind the rest of the business world.

He criticises the outdated belief that many within the US still harbour that “globalisation” refers to “Americanisation” and voiced concern that the country is on the verge of another era of isolationism. Lord Jones, former head of the CBI, says the protectionist view many in the US are pushing will do the country’s economy no good at all and will also do little to drag American business kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

“Do I think Americans have grasped it’s a different century?” he added. “I’m not sure they have.

“They are aware that the world out there has changed and has got choices it never had and their influence is still enormous but different. They are not that much at ease with themselves at the moment.”

The criticism still didn’t stop Lord Jones from describing the US as the UK’s “friend” and he believes the two countries should find more ways to work together. But quite what the Americans think of being butted by the Goat from Birmingham is anyone’s guess.

There is mounting evidence that the US is feeling the pinch and resting on its laurels, a tactic employed quite happily for a number of years, is proving to be a hard habit to break. Happy enough to let the good times roll, there seems confusion about how to kick-start progress now that the momentum has been lost.

As consumer confidence in the US plummets to a 16-year low, there is a growing sense of a country that has lost direction. The credit crunch continues to have a massive impact, not just in the US but worldwide.

The historic solution of circling the wagons might find favour amongst some American politicians, business leaders and voters, but in this new globalised economy it will simply add to the pressures the US economy is already facing.

With the Bush presidency drawing to an ignominious and limp close, a lot of the focus remains on foreign policy and Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran in particular.

Yet the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls know the real fight lies at home and getting the country’s ailing economy back on its feet.

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