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Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Germany's #1 magazine Der Spiegel (via Davids Medienkritik) has this to say on American economic future:

"For most experts, it is only a question of time until the Chinese economy surpasses the American. ... The USA ... weary and increasingly plagued by self-doubts. ... A downward spiral has been set in motion ... China's steep climb has left America in a collective state of shock. ... The era of American dominance is heading towards its end."
Hogwash. I was all set to pontificate on this nonsense, but LouMinatti sums up the logical response nicely,
"I am old enough to remember the same fears playing out in the 1980s. Back then, Japan was set to take over the world, and the lefty Euros were pleased to see that America was doomed. The Japanese were positively full of themselves, much as the Chinese (and usual America-haters) are today."
Funny how you don't hear about a Japanese economic takeover of the US anymore.

Comments (11)

Sounds like wishful thinkin... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

Sounds like wishful thinking to me. I guess they've given up on their own country, because they didn't mention slip-shod American products never being able to compete with superior German engineering.

the interesting thing about... (Below threshold)

the interesting thing about these pieces is that they are based on the presumption that China's population alone makes it inevitable that their economy will surpass the America's, but if that alone were the critical variable then India would have long risen to the #1 economic status given their strong manufacturing base and high growth services sector. But the fact remains that China, and India, still face the chilling reality that the great bulk of their populations live in absolute poverty, which denies them of any chance of longterm economic domination because their economies are largely dependent on their exporting abilities, much like the Japanese were in the 80's. Funny thing happens with export economies, they are subject to vicious currency fluctuations and the cheap labor found elseware syndrome. I really hope that China continues to expand, with 400 million people living on less than a dollar a day they need to grow, and of course their growth creates tremendous opportunities for the U.S. to the exclusion of the Europeans (who are very very late to the China game).

Theoretically, if the Chine... (Below threshold)

Theoretically, if the Chinese government can ever get their head out of certain bodily orifices, their economy should surpass ours for one very simple reason: they have four times the work force.

It's going to be a long time before that happens, though.

I agree with jeff. India s... (Below threshold)

I agree with jeff. India should and will be the asian superpower, not China. China needs to grow prosperous and can only do if the ruling elite are willing to loosen their grip. But, like the USSR, if they do relax their iron control, parts of China will break away. China is not a homogenious population like Japan is. Their are Tibetans, Mongolians, Aleutian-type Siberians, as well as at least two types of classic Chinese. Their current empire is only held together by force and ignorance.


'it is only a question of t... (Below threshold)

'it is only a question of time until the Chinese economy surpasses the American.'

I guess they're leaving out the sticky part about political reform. As the economy grows more people will demand more freedom which doesn't seem like it will be all that compatable with the current gov't.

They may have 4 times the a... (Below threshold)

They may have 4 times the available workers but as long as those workers only make 1/100th what ours do they won't have any wages to spend to drive the economy.

This coming from a German o... (Below threshold)

This coming from a German or any other European source is what makes it truly laughable. Europe seems intent on destroying it's own economy with taxes, socialism, and welfare states (the three go hand-in-hand) I think it's much more a case of wishful thinking than even a remote possibility. Any progress China makes is so diluted by it's population that I just don't believe it's attainable. It is the last great market but it has no emerging market to trade with. Whatever they do will be too little, too late. Communism did them in long ago and Europe refuses to admit it now, socialism is by definition the next to last step of communism but Europe's ego demands they believe they can succeed where everyone else has failed. Their superior attitude has them believing that because they are Europeans it just has to work for them. That means that China will have a shrinking market in Europe. At least China has finally realized that commuinsim/socialism isn't going to work. That means China may make it to second place, placing Europe squarely in third, where they belong. The scary thing about it is this will leave the French with even less disposable income for soap and deoderant. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww!

"They may have 4 times the ... (Below threshold)

"They may have 4 times the available workers but as long as those workers only make 1/100th what ours do they won't have any wages to spend to drive the economy."

Yes - hence the "bodily orifices" qualifier. They're going to have to go through some pretty massive political and economic reform before they ever come even close to recognizing their full potential. But sooner or later that's going to happen, and when it does they're eventually going to catch up to us.

Population and natural reso... (Below threshold)

Population and natural resourses can define economic possibilities but a country needs more than that to turn the possibilities into reality.

Secretary Rumsfelt keeps a nighttime satelite shot of the Koreas where the DMZ is clearly defined by the dark north and light south. Same people, nearly same climate, same language; the problem is that one of them is a peoples republic. A peoples republic will never overtake a free republic economically.

Even if China changes their... (Below threshold)

Even if China changes their system of government there are no emerging markets left for them to sell to. Their population dictates that they must concentrate on labor intensive production, high tech can be pretty well ruled out, there isn't enough demand for even a miniscule portion of the population to be employed in anything that requires automation instead of warm bodies. If they try raise wages for menial work the transportation costs will eat them alive. They can't possibly educate them all and they can't pay them all a decent wage to do high tech work. Their own internal market is too poor to sustain them for long and there's no real population growth anywhere else, their own population is backsliding. Unless they can find some customers on Mars they're screwed. They had their chance several times over and before they became communists they were xenophobic to the point that almost nobody could trade with them. I don't doubt they'll pass Europe but in 20 or 30 years that won't be much to brag about.

How appropriate: a German a... (Below threshold)

How appropriate: a German author rolling in what he hopes is "schadenfreude".

"The Rise And Fall Of The Great Powers",had as its the central theme that any nation which spends as high a percentage of its GNP as the US in the mid-80's was bound by the laws of economic gravity to fall. It was beloved by Washington Post and New York Review of Books types, who devoutly wished it to be true. My copy olds a cherished place on the top of my bookshelf, where I let it gather the accumulating dust of the years since it has seemed vaguely relevant. Right now the accumulation of dust is so deep it looks like snow.

But, boy, I sure am glad Clinton and Gore helped Charlie "Red Chinese Inteligence" Trie with the nasty old export laws about missle technology and such. It was only fair to help them....






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