I am not an economist, nor do I play one on the blogosphere. But sometimes it takes someone from the outside to see through the groupthink that has developed in the bubble.
So here's my take on the end of empire:
If global warming doesn't beat everything else to the punch in bringing down the empire(and the fact that it was 90 degrees in Minnesota in early October yesterday sure rings a bell that something's on the way), then the limits of perpetual growth certainly will.
Our capitalistic system is all built on the concept that growth can be sustained infinitely - and that's a lie from the get-go. At home in the US, that means that the corprotocracy has to continue to sell us all on the idea that consumerism is god. We need to keep buying more and more in order for the "growth" model on which our whole economic system is based to succeed. If we ever say "enough" the whole thing comes crashing down.
And abroad, this means that our military/industrial complex has to control ever more expanding resources around the globe to fuel the growth in consumerism. If folks don't want to give us their "stuff", then we'll take it by force.
But make no mistake, the laws of nature will come into play someday. I don't think the US will ever give up its addiction to consumerism and growth voluntarily. But mother nature (ie, peak oil) or the people we so willingly exploit/kill/terrorize will put an end to it all. I think the former is more likely given the map above and the limits of people without access to resources to take on the overwhelming amount of force we can unleash.
Since all of this growth is based on the burning of fossil fuels, it looks like the neocons and corporatists may have figured this out already as is demonstrated by their obssession with the middle east. I think they are preparing to take it to the last stand as peak oil hits and the end of the growth model begins to threaten the house of cards they have built.
One way or another, this ponzi scheme we call our ecomomy will crash. I don't know if it will be in a couple of months, a couple of years, or a couple of decades, but the day is drawing nigh for the end of the empire.