Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The tipping point for the world economy?

It seems that last month, a significant international economic milestone was passed. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

For many years now, we've heard sombre warnings that the white countries' easy dominance of the world would be eclipsed by the developing nations.

One day, we were told, the fast-growing economies of the poor countries would be bigger than those of the more sclerotic rich countries.

The Australian Treasury has now calculated this is no longer a looming prospect but that, on a key measure, it has already happened. The Treasury estimates the developing countries' collective gross domestic product overtook that of the rich world last month.

As near as its economists can guess, it happened on March 28. One author points out this was the 88th day of the year, a very propitious date in Chinese numerology.

On this reckoning, the era in which the economies of Europe and its colonial offshoots, including the US and Australia, dominated the world ended 20 days ago. We can now see it for what it was - a historical aberration that lasted about 1½ centuries.

"The Chinese look at this and they say, 'We just had a couple of bad centuries,'" remarks the international economist and former vice-chair of Goldman Sachs in Asia, Ken Courtis. "In the blink of a generation, global power has shifted. Over time, this will not just be an economic and financial shift but a political, cultural and ideological one."

. . .

China was the biggest economy in the world until 1840. It will be again, on current trends, when it overtakes the US in eight years. And while China is the largest of the emerging economies, it is by no means the only one thrusting ahead. India, Brazil, Indonesia and dozens of others are on the same trajectory. Even African countries, among the last to discover catch-up rates of growth, are joining the trend.

On Treasury's forecasts, the rich countries' overwhelming two-to-one economic dominance over the poor just 30 years ago will be exactly reversed in another 20 years. So by 2030, on current trends, the countries classified today as "developing" will have a collective economy double the size of today's "developed" countries.

Ross Garnaut describes this as a "normalisation" of world affairs: "This will keep happening - this is just a step along the way. We shouldn't be surprised - the beneficent process of modern economic growth is the common property of humanity." The Mayan calendar might have been wrong to predict the end of the world in 2012, but this is the year when we can start writing the obituary for the world of Euro-American supremacy.

There's more at the link. Bold print is my emphasis.

Well, well, well. We've all known it was coming, but even though it's now happened (by Australia's method of measurement, anyway), I'm sure many in the First World will be reluctant to accept it. It's going to be very interesting to see how long it takes the newly emergent powers to obtain equal status and an equal voice at international economic and monetary institutions. They've been demanding it for years, but haven't been able to get past entrenched old-world interests. I guess that's about to change.



Anonymous said...

That will teach us first-world countries to kill off our future citizens. Thanks to abortion, we're headed towards demographic collapse.

Anonymous said...

I'm still not so sure about China over the next ten to twenty years. Their demographic policies, the endemic corruption, and inability thus far to do more than duplicate a lot of technology do not seem good for long-term stability and growth. India has a similar demographic problem (highly skewed male:female births and survivals) plus caste and class divides. I agree that the European - Anglo nations are not growing and have major financial problems, but China, India, and much of Latin America don't seem to be doing as well as their governments would like the rest of the world to think.
My $.08 (two cents after inflation).


Anonymous said...

"Thanks to abortion, we're headed towards demographic collapse."

I disagree. China aborts more fetuses in a year than the rest of the world combined. It isn't about how many people we have; it's about what those people produce. Americans don't PRODUCE anything anymore. Most American jobs involve some sort of service, whether it be customer care, 10-minute oil changes, or joining a bureaucracy (all of which are jobs I have done).

We went from being the biggest producer on the planet to the biggest consumer nation. And instead of consuming goods we produced, and which were designed to last and be repaired, we went for the cheapest junk that a "Third World" country country could churn out, stuff that was cheaper to replace than fix.

China, Vietnam, India--those people are HUNGRY, literally as well as figuratively. Americans are sated--not that it stops us from eating anyway.

And if they aren't making things, they're mining and harvesting--to their own benefits, not as a satellite of the US or the USSR.

China and India each have one BILLION people. If at this point they are better at duplicating and churning out what Westerners invent, it won't stay that way for long. Go look at scientific journals, at research being done in America. Have you noticed how many of the scientists involved have Chinese or Indian names? They came here to attend the finest universities in the world, and stayed because they saw the opportunities here were so much greater. But that isn't going to last. In 20 years, the best and brightest in the West will be applying to schools over there.

Anyone with a sense of history could see this coming. Americans, unfortunately, have always been a bit myopic when it came to history.