21 January 2011

Twenty Obvious International Trends

Lots of economic, environmental and political predictions are hardly better than horoscopes. Others are reliable enough to be thought of a "fundamentals." I'm more interested in the latter. Here are a few:

1. China's economic growth rate will be greater for medium term time periods (e.g. three years or more) than that of the United States for the foreseeable future, because it is engaged in "catch up growth," while the United States is not.

2. China will experience a notable economic crash in the next decade or so, because it hasn't had one for a long time and periods of even strong sustained growth are almost always interrupted periodically by economic crashes.

3. India's economic growth rate will be greater for medium term time periods than that of the United States for the foreseeable future, because it is engaged in "catch up growth," while the United States is not.

4. India's economic growth rate will exceed that of China sometime in the next ten to fifteen years, because China's per capita GDP is significantly greater than that of India, leaving India with more "catch up growth" potential than China.

5. Oil dependent nations in the Middle East will each experience serious economic contractions not long as oil production in the nation in question starts to fall due to exhaustion of the nation's oil supply. These nations are heavily reliant on oil revenues to sustain their standard of living with imported goods and temporary immigrant workers, both of which will be harder to come by when there are not new oil revenues available.

6. Countries in Africa that experience war and authoritarian governments will experience less economic growth than those with sustained periods of peace and democratic government.

7. In the developing world, it will be a long time before environmental and climate change concerns have enough political clout to cause air pollution to be reduced more rapidly than the increasing scope of economic activity increases air pollution. As a result, emissions will not be reduced rapidly enough to stop continued global warming.

8. Nuclear power will spread to more countries.

9. Oil more be more expensive in real terms in 2020 and more expensive again in real terms in 2030 than it is today. Rising oil prices will make technologies that are powered by energy sources other than oil more attractive. This trend will be a global one, because oil trades in a global marketplace.

10. Oil rich countries that are not close to exhausting their reserves will receive an economic boost from rising oil prices.

11. North Korea's political and economic system will collapse, probably within a couple of decades, if it fails to open itself up to the rest of the world. If it does collapse, it will probably be reabsorbed by South Korea.

12. Public health measures will improve in most of the developing and undeveloped world that are not war torn as patents on new effective drugs expire and make those drugs more affordable.

13. Global fertility rates will fall as more countries become more economically developed.

14. Developing countries will become less religious as they become more economically developed in fairly close synch with falling fertility rates.

15. The need to impose taxes as oil revenues decline will force Middle Eastern monarchs who have not already been deposed in revolutions and democratized of their own free will to make genuine democratic reforms.

16. The proportion of the world population engaged in farming will fall steadily for decades to come.

17. Some small island nations will be swallowed up by the sea and forced to relocate all or most of their populations as sea levels rise with global warming sometime in the next century.

18. A large share of the world's languages, probably half or more, will die in the next few decades.

19. A significant number of plant and animal species will go extinct in the next few decades.

20. The proportion of Africans who are Christians will increase significantly over the next decade.

No comments: