Forced convergence of China and US
So how much of the US economy, the home of free enterprise, will end up being nationalised or bailed out by the state during the current economic crisis?
So far we've seen banks, mortgage companies, and a mighty insurer all being propped up and bossed around by the federal government.
And now it's the real economy, manufacturing, that US taxpayers are set to rescue.
Last night, for example, the Democrat Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, urged Congress to provide emergency financial help for the crippled US automotive industry.
What's being requested by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is $50bn in loans, on top of the $25bn in low-interest borrowing approved by Congress in September for retooling plants.
As cash-strapped US consumers continue to feel this is not the best time to buy a car, and are purchasing fewer vehicles than at any time since the early 1990s, most at risk of collapse is General Motors, the largest US carmaker.
Pelosi made clear that she felt the big automakers had to be kept out of bankruptcy at all costs, because of the danger that its failure would lead to massive damage to suppliers and connected businesses, with the possible loss of millions of jobs. A recent study by the Center for Automotive Research concluded that the failure of just one carmaker would lead to 2.5m job losses.
The scale of what's at stake was captured chillingly in a quote from a bankruptcy lawyer at White & Case, Alan Gover, who is quoted on Bloomberg: "Trying to reorganise the auto industry in bankruptcy would be as close to reorganising the whole US economy as you could get," he said. "The vast supply chain involves thousands of businesses, millions of existing jobs and just as many retirees, as well as whole communities and states".
But here's what some may see as ironic, even - in a dark way - slightly amusing.
The fundamental cause of America's woes (and ours too) is that its consumers, businesses and government all borrowed too much in the good years, especially from China.
China's semi-nationalised, heavily state-controlled economy generated huge financial surpluses through its massive trade in manufactured goods with America. And those financial surpluses were recycled back to America in the form of loans, so that US consumers and businesses could buy even more from China's factories and workshops.
These massive trade and financial imbalances were unsustainable - and are now being brought closer to equilibrium in a painful way.
Because US financial institutions both borrowed and lent too much, and because many other mighty companies took on far too much debt, they have been facing collapse. And where they are perceived as too big too fail (where the collateral damage were they to fall over would be devastating), the US government is stepping in with financial succour from taxpayers.
For years the great trend in the world was the embracement of free enterprise in China.
But now, in America's darkest hour for generations, the US is embracing a form of state-control and intervention that looks remarkably Chinese.