George Bush abandons his no-new-taxes pledge, and his Treasury lets the once almighty dollar slide in peace. Britain's Conservatives evict Margaret Thatcher from No. 10 Downing Street overnight. Japan's ruling party watches with approval as the country's banks push interest rates up and eat the costs of deflating Tokyo's "bubble" economy.

Welcome to "As the World Turns," global division. When national economies go sour in industrial democracies, political parties in power turn to divorces or trial separations of various and dramatic kinds. They abandon policies (Washington), they abandon leaders (London) or they abandon low-cost capital (Tokyo). All's fair in love and reelection campaigns.

The incumbents also abandon each other. Lashed together on the Group of Seven raft in the 1980s by a commitment to fighting inflation and keeping exchange rates stable, the world's seven most important economic powers now go their own way in a changing international economic environment. While Washington lets inflation and unemployment creep up, Tokyo tries to cool its economy.

In the United States, Britain and Japan, the incumbents have concluded that they can no longer wait to tame the dangerous business cycles that have taken hold in their nations. To influence the way the economy will look when the electorate goes to the polls within the next 12 to 36 months, they act now.

That is, the incumbents try to bring the business cycle into line with their own political cycle -- whatever the immediate cost in higher inflation or unemployment. They can do the obvious, while denying that they are doing so. The fourth important international economic power, Germany, is happily out of phase. Having held its national election on Dec. 2, the new government in Bonn is free to pursue fiscal policy for its own sake. The new lack of G-7 unity was underscored by public French attacks this week on Germany's inclination to use monetary policy to contain the costs of unification without having consulted its most important economic partners.

Thatcher's forced departure on the heels of Bush's tossing the tax-cut baby off the sled to the wolves of Congress carries a clear message: Monetarism is being buried as the 1990s open. Minus Reagan and Thatcher, their parties have turned an ideological approach to economy into an economic approach to ideology.

The money-supply measurements, tax-rate cuts and high interest rates that set the stage for the vanquishing of inflation in the early 1980s are irrelevant to problems the successors of Reagan and Thatcher have inherited in the early 1990s. Playing the angles on currency value is one of the few tools available to the post-monetarists in power as economic growth stalls.

Recession is already entrenched in Britain. Prime Minister John Major must move the double-digit inflation and interest rates of Thatcher's final days down two to three points if he is to find a way to halt the nation's spiraling unemployment and bring the Tories the victory for which they abandoned Thatcher. Major's first step toward this is likely to be a small but symbolicly important realigning of the pound against the still strengthening German mark by narrowing the pound's fluctuation range.

America is moving into the British cycle, but as it did in the recession of 1981-82, the American economy runs behind the British pace, unemployment is rising, and the dollar's value bounces up and down daily but in a general trend southward.

Bush and Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady take an outwardly relaxed attitude toward the steep decline of the dollar against other key currencies over the past 30 months. They appear prepared to ride out the inflationary impact of a weaker dollar (which increases the price of imported goods for American consumers) and of the lower interest rates they seek -- which will further weaken the dollar -- over the next year. A rebound of the dollar and growth in export-related employment in the first half of 1992 would create the rising tide that Bush's political boat needs.

Export increases for Midwestern farm produce and for manufactured goods from the East would bring jobs and rising income in the geographic regions where the Republicans most need help in 1992. That would provide Bush the improving economic indicators he needs to run on in November.

All of this assumes that there is no disaster in the Persian Gulf and that the U.S. recession is indeed the shallow, short (and therefore relatively manageable) one foreseen in the current consensus. Bush's coolness in choosing minimalist economic approach in these danger-filled circumstances is breathtaking.

Reagan ruled more by proclamation than by policy. It is the reverse for Bush. Since no leader likes to avow a strategy that includes a measure of devaluing his national currency, he will not acknowledge a post-monetarist strategy that needs a low-value dollar for the short run. This is probably not such a big handicap in the business of fitting political and business cycles together.

If the silent, minimalist approach works, the president should be able to renew his lease on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue without much trouble in 1992. If it doesn't, explaining won't help anyway.