thenextwave

China’s prospects

Posted in China, economics by thenextwavefutures on 31 January, 2014

China 5576_5243a75446169-386x289Over at The Futures Company’s blog I have a post up about the challenges facing businesses – a look back at a Future Perspective we published on China a couple of years ago.

Here’s an extract about the country’s economic prospects:

“While the last three decades tell us that it’s unwise to bet against China fixing its problems, there are some big questions.

“One is about the effectiveness of the transition to a consumer economy, which needs significant institutional change if it is to work. This leads to a second question, of whether China’s market institutions are robust enough and trusted enough to support such a transition; this is almost certainly one factor behind the country’s anti-corruption drive. An important issue in this is openness: despite its huge internal market there will be doubts about how effectively China can modernize or innovate while it shuts off its internet from the world. The cost of managing its “Golden Shield” is said to be $1.6 billion to date.

“A third question is about the cost of unwinding or writing off stranded assets, whether they are ghost cities or the government’s cotton mountain, bought at prices well about the world market. There are also questions about the overall levels of Chinese debt, and whether a combination of asset bubbles, shadow finance, and bad debts throughout the country’s banking system could prompt a financial crisis. Finally, there are signs that the “Chimerica” system, under which Chinese savings bought American debt, and Americans then bought Chinese goods, is coming to an end.

“As Robert Gottliebsen argued recently in Australia’s Business Spectator:

China does not want to fund further US deficits and the US wants to reduce its deficits. And so the US-China model that has dominated the world is changing and Chinese consumers must be stimulated to replace the Americans. … The Chinese leadership understands this but changing the model will not be easy, particularly as the population is ageing. Japan tried a similar switch and failed.”

The image at the top of this post is from Wikimedia, and is used here, with thanks, under a Creative Commons licence.

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Bringing it back home

Posted in economics, emerging issues, energy, scenarios, work by thenextwavefutures on 25 January, 2014

????????????????????????????????????????An emerging trend toward re-shoring production is driven by energy costs, customer demands for shorter runs and more flexibility, and the way high-value knowledge is created.

A few years ago I wrote a set of scenarios – with Joe Ballantyne and Andy Sumner – on the prospects for the world economy to the early 2020s. In one of the scenarios we saw the “West” regenerate itself by a combination of public investment and by bringing home its high value manufacturing. After I’d drafted this post, David Cameron popped up at Davos to promote the idea of “re-shoring”, even if he seems less keen on the notion of public investment. And according to a recent report in The Conversation by some Birmingham University researchers, there are signs that re-shoring is starting to happen, that British businesses are  bringing it back home.
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Jobs and productivity, from the Economist

Posted in history, Uncategorized by thenextwavefutures on 19 January, 2014

Long, considered account from the Economist, looking at the long-term history (back to 1770) as well as the trends and prospects.

I’ll highlight some extracts when I’ve had time to digest.

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21594264-previous-technological-innovation-has-always-delivered-more-long-run-employment-not-less

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