On the other side of the globe, there is a large country that has unemployment issues that could mean trouble. Millions of workers who were employed in factories along China's coast making all the things Americans paid for with their credit cards are out of work. These workers were immigrants, not from a country bordering China, but from that country's huge interior.
Lured a dozen years ago by paychecks made possible by the fast-expanding Chinese export market, these workers left family plots of marginal agricultural land and small villages. Now, with employment ended because of the worldwide economic collapse, they are having to return home.
Economists, and especially Chinese auth-orities, are rightly concerned about what comes next.
According to a New York Times story earlier this week, the recently unemployed immigrants number about 20 million. And, mass protests against the government suggest a time of unrest is under way; regional and local officials have been told to take the initiative to prevent dissent from growing.
A gap between the standard of living along China's coast and the interior has been large and growing and is potentially explosive. China's leadership, absorbed by what controlled capitalism can do for the country, has focused on increasing economic development and jobs in large cities close to the coast. Rural communities have largely been ignored, receiving few benefits from the rapidly growing national economy.
Now, laid-off workers are returning to a countryside and a way of life that they do not want and that cannot support them.
Chinese authorities are well-aware of their influence in international affairs, but expect that when it comes to decision making they will do what maintains stability at home. That will be the priority. Just as a purposely weak Chinese currency in recent years allow-ed Chinese manufacturers to win orders that other countries wanted to fill, China can be expected to look for opportunities - real and manufactured - that allow a return to a high-growth economy.
It also is not unreasonable to expect human-rights violations to increase as the Chinese attempt to quell dissent by the unemployed and those caught in the shifting demographics. In that case, if respect for human rights is made a condition for any sort of agreement with the United States, or with other countries, the Chinese may say no thanks.
China has become a world power since allowing controlled capitalism to flourish. Now that its economy has slowed abruptly, and millions of its people are affected, it faces uncertain times.