Just saying hello, was curious on your opinions on the lastest occurences in the world.
America, post election and ‘super weather’, from an external view, they look to be holding firm, running everything as normal, although fuel rationing must be a shock to some.
Something else I’ve heard lately is this move of western manufacturers working on products for a high end Chinese market. Is this the shift, the balance tipping? Soon (well not soon) the cheap labour will be the US and parts of Europe?
I appreciate hearing your response, as radical and thought provoking as they are.
The US can’t change its ways. The mere concept to change expectations in the US is unthinkable. Consumer culture in the US is a very rigid metric and people will ruin their future chances on happiness in a blissful orgy of borrowing (or criminal activity) to get what they think they should have.
China is an economy that grows very fast. But even at 10% rates of growth it will be decades before the Chinese economy, consumer culture and such will be on par with even European nations such as Germany. As an export nation China is of considerable relevance. However this exports is mostly very based on low wages, paired with unsustainably high levels of pollution and “dumping”. China is effectively killing itself being a slave labour nation and that can’t last for very long. What’s worse, the engine that compels Chinese exports is also unsustainable because of a range of other factors. It must stutter and stall very soon for two reasons – (a) automation and (b) ever high fossil fuel prices.
And I won’t even start on dropping water levels and desertification. Climate change will be a bitch for continental China.
Automation will bring outsourced jobs back home to the US and Europe, soon. Period.
This is already happening in 2012 and by 2020 there will be little or not reason to manufacture goods and ship them all over the world. Automated systems and machines will go down in price at a meteoric rate and in the 2020s even attrition/slave unschooled labour will not be able to compete with automated labour and forms of advanced prototyping even at starvation levels. By that time this manufacturing will be domestic EU/US, period. Simple maths. China will lose the edge it currently enjoys very soon.
The end result is a study in precarious. Domestic Chinese markets are still diabolically corrupt. China is a circle jerk patchwork of little potentates not much dissimilar to Middle East tyrants, with large households of bureaucrats and lackeys. This is a new 21st century pyramid of “party mandarins” and it depends on massive pay-offs. Everyone in the Chinese food chain (and face it, it’s not dissimilar in Europe and the US these days, much as it was in Communist Russia) depends on pay offs and bribes, silver parachutes and golden hand shakes. Local potentate Chinese mandarins will revolt in many of hundreds ways if the money flow dries up. Think a country full of Chinese style fight club obstinacy, and you see a vision of a 1.3 billion people hyper-power collapse like a stack of mahjong stones stacked up all the way to the Chinese space station.
Without a steady flow of <75$ oil China is as thoroughly unsustainable as is the US and the EU, period. If we had an endless supply of cheap oil (and the exponential growth curves to go with it), we'd start cooking off the oceans by 2100. We are closing in on the end of large state entities on this planet and we will see the rise of an extremely corporatist end-game of Machiavelli, worldwide, where access to resources and energy trumps any political contrivances. In other words, China is no longer of strategic relevance - the emergent patchwork of coastal Chinese consumer nations will be of more relevance. Coastal Chine will be richer and more concentrated rim pacific power players than equivalent coastal regions in the US. Clearly the end result is completely unpredictable, but it will no doubt be very lateral, and it will be extremely energy-creation and technological and advancement-driven.
The lynch-pin that determines where China, Brazil, the US, Russia, Europe end up is how well they adjust to new forms of energy creation, period.
Oil will become an annoying afterthought by the mid 2020s and the only viable alternative is post-global, extremely constraint driven and excrutiatingly Machiavellian. The fluff in between these powers (Africa, middle east, far asia, middle america, fragmenistan, the PIIGS) will be wracked with convulsive resource wars, austerity, poverty, extremist politics and occasional cycles starvation.
Mix Greece with Iraq and Afghanistan and you get an idea of the next decades for 5+ billion humans worldwide.
The only viable energy resource I regard as anywhere near credible is solar. Others (wind, geo, thorium) will only regionally compete and mostly they won’t. Solar will start competing with established alternatives in the 2020s, but basicly solar means “turning complex infrastructure, enormous amounts of minerals and cables in to sporadic economic growth”. Think 1% growth rates at most, and only in the remaining post-industrial, highly militarized power blocks.
In other words, say bye bye to any expectations you have of established notions of consumerism, unless you are a 1%er.
And come 2020s those 1%ers will also be contending with stuff like Guillotines. Anywhere, China, Russia, US. The future doesn’t look bright to career freeloaders (at the top or at the bottom, pensioners, unemployed or rich idiots).