August 26, 2013


AMERICA HANGING IN THERE BETTER THAN RIVALS (Joel Kotkin, 08/26/2013, New Geography)

[T]he Middle Kingdom appears headed toward what one analyst calls "the end" of its amazing and profound economic miracle. Growth, once projecting Chinese global preeminence, is slowing precipitously. The country now faces a growing rank of competitors from lower-wage countries poised to take market share from the Middle Kingdom.

China faces growing political instability at the grass-roots level, a mountain of state-issued bad debt and a festering environmental crisis, which threatens long-term food supplies and could create massive health problems. China is rapidly aging. It will have 60 million fewer people under age 15 by 2050, while gaining nearly 190 million people at least 65, approximately the population of Pakistan, the world's fourth-most populous country.

The so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), once the darlings of the investment banking set, all are facing slowing growth and rising political instability. It doesn't help that most are either total or partial kleptocracies, dependent on commodity exports or cheap labor. This is not a solid foundation for ascendency as newer emerging nations - Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam - ramp up.

On all these accounts, North America, including our Canadian and Mexican neighbors, looks best-positioned. The first, and, arguably, most important game-changer is the energy revolution that could realign the economic stars for decades to come. The shale oil and natural gas boom, as the Economist recently noted, is as illustrative of America's future, and genius at reinvention, "as the algorithms being generated in Silicon Valley."

The energy boom's best aspect, besides the emergence of relatively cleaner natural gas, is making global tyrants, such as those ruling Saudi Arabia and Russia, nervous about their future place in the world. These worries alone should send a three-word message to our leaders: Go for it.

But North America is not, like Russia, a one-trick pony. [...]

Then there's the matter of culture. For years, Asian, Third World and European cultural warriors have plotted to knock the U.S. off its pre-eminent perch. But the European film industry is a shadow of its once-glorious efflorescence; much the same can be said about the once-splendid Japanese cinema. To be sure, Chinese films, Korean pop stars and Bollywood are rising forces, but U.S. exports more than $14 billion annually in film and television. On a global level, no one can compete with Hollywood as a packager of images and dreams - and Silicon Valley's control of new distribution technology could further boost this advantage.

Finally, there's the matter of demographics. The United States, like its competitors, is aging, but not as quickly as our prime rivals. The birth rate has slowed with the recession, but it's likely to come back toward replacement levels in the years ahead as millennials enter their thirties en masse, and immigrants continue coming to the country. America should be the only one of the top five economies with a growing workforce over the next few decades. that we'll effortlessly make succeeding tidal waves of immigrants--many fleeing these failed states-into Americans.  No one becomes Chinese.
Posted by at August 26, 2013 7:18 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus