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Asia and the great reconvergence

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By John Kemp

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I post design briefs of tech online and get the most responses from India, where there is a thirst for the next big thing at the ideas stage.

Big tech in the US lives in a bubble. It's capability for innovation has slowed and it resorts to buying multiple companies to keep up, usually too late stage to integrate. GAFA management are getting older and more out of touch and their companies are increasingly lawyer-centric rather than tech-based.

The UK is a festering mish-mash of outsourcing entities reliant on lucrative contracts from their chums in government. They never deliver. VC only moves in when a new company is up and running with a proof of concept. By then, Asian entrepreneurs have copied the core tech, improved it and thrown money at it to make it grow. The West is slow, lazy and tight with its cash. Lots of little corporate fiefdoms defending their borders.

Both Europe and the US are increasing regulations, restrictions, government interventions and in the case of the UK, economic and regulatory isolation. All of this hammers down creativity and innovation. Western government would sooner ban the next generation of tech - distributed systems, ad hoc and permissive networks - than support it. It will happen, but not there, and they will be left behind. IT is built on proper encryption, but every few months the UK government runs a scare campaign on how encryption threatens children, women, small furry creatures etc (because they want to be able to spy on all of us and E2E encryption gets in the way).

The West is short of IT professionals. No surprise. Western media outlets run endless scare stories about tech and the net and then wonder why kids aren't choosing it in school. If you paint tech as dangerous, likely to end human civilisation in hacking, online bullying and criminality, you won't get parents encouraging their kids to write code. It's like urging them to take up witchcraft in 1690s Salem. You can't have your cake and eat it. If you demonise tech and the internet to justify taking control of it, regulating it and spying on all of your citizens, parents will fear for their kids if they want to get into IT and programming, and nudge them towards other subjects.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

With a population of 4.56 billion the economic shift was inevitable. However, the stories of demise of the West are quite overrated, since most of the innovation and research still happens in the West.

Also missing in this article is how many millionaires from China and India prefer to migrate to the West and take along their capital (both financial and human) with them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

You need to factor in the demographic cliff that is going to hammer Japan, China, SK, Russia and most of Europe. Except for Europe most of these shrinkage countries are not historical destinations for immigrants and they will have a hard time maintaining economic growth. I would say China has reached its zenith and that is why it is making last gasp and desperate land grabs before the gig is up.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Asia is not only the largest continent by land mass, it also has 59.5% of the world's human population. Another way to look at the situation is to realize that the populations of Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Australia, combined, are less than the population of Asia. So, it should not be surprising that Asia has a large impact on the world stage.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think the author's premise is incorrect. Even two and a half decades ago when I was completing my MA in Economics the economic literature of the time was all about the growing importance of east Asian economies. Much of my own research regarded the effects of multilateral trade and the economic growth of east Asian nations. I have books in my book case predicting Japan eclipsing the US as the world's number one economy. Europe even then was seen as sort of yesterday's news, important in the context of NATO and standing down the old Soviet empire but not the source of innovation or significant economic growth. The story then was the so-called Asian Tigers, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. China was just starting to register then. If you graphed per capita GDP per year with the year on the horizontal axis and per-capita GDP on the vertical axis, the line for Japan was approaching that for the US asymptotically from below, South Korea, Taiwan and the others were climbing from below and the line for China was still a flat line at the very bottom of the chart. Remember this was a graph of per-capita GDP, not total GDP. That would have looked different.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Western government would sooner ban the next generation of tech - distributed systems, ad hoc and permissive networks 

What you see are citizens of elected representative governments expressing their deep distrust of what entrepreneurs develop and market and their dislike of how big corporations are ruining the natural wonders of our nations for short term profit. Big open pit mines play out and their owners merge or declare bankruptcy. The people who had that big hole dug keep their money and move on but that hole in the ground is forever, a natural environment ruined for all time. River systems are ruined by dams, fisheries extinct because the dams prevent salmon and steelhead from reaching their spawning grounds and/or the river below the dam is now dry (the fate of the San Joaquin River), or now the water is too warm for immature newly hatched fish to survive and make it to the sea (the reason salmon runs on the Sacramento River are at best 10% of what they were before the river was dammed). Sacramento River once had four separate salmon runs, the only river in the world to have this, and those salmon created a big fishing industry that kept towns like Fort Bragg CA prosperous. Now the fish are gone and Fort Bragg struggles in poverty. People understand this and are no longer willing to let entrepreneurs have a free hand to do was they wish. China in particular is learning the hard way the price of unrestrained development. Their rivers and air are polluted beyond belief. The pollution has contaminated farmlands and makes some of their crops contaminated. Is that what you want to see in the west?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The US particularly is dependent on technically trained immigrants. I worked for over 20 years at a top company that could not stay in business without legal immigrants doing the work that requires technical know how. I worked alongside these people, and respected them, but I find it worrying that the American economy is so totally dependent on immigrants. Which leads me to Trump's misguided attempts to stop immigration. Without legal immigrants doing the jobs that not enough Americans know how to do, or even want to learn to do, America would collapse. For a man who claimed to be in favor of policies to make America great, he was very intent on doing the opposite.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

EvilBuddhaApr. 23 05:52 pm JST

With a population of 4.56 billion the economic shift was inevitable. However, the stories of demise of the West are quite overrated, since most of the innovation and research still happens in the West.

Also missing in this article is how many millionaires from China and India prefer to migrate to the West and take along their capital (both financial and human) with them.

Exactly!   That’s why Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, which over the last 25 years has seen an influx of Chinese from Hong Kong, is called Hongcouver, a combination of Hong Kong and Vancouver

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1glennApr. 24 07:43 am JST

The US particularly is dependent on technically trained immigrants. I worked for over 20 years at a top company that could not stay in business without legal immigrants doing the work that requires technical know how. I worked alongside these people, and respected them, but I find it worrying that the American economy is so totally dependent on immigrants. Which leads me to Trump's misguided attempts to stop immigration. Without legal immigrants doing the jobs that not enough Americans know how to do, or even want to learn to do, America would collapse. For a man who claimed to be in favor of policies to make America great, he was very intent on doing the opposite.

Not true at all concerning Trump.  Trump often spoke about the need for people to come to the USA, legally, to help it grow and prosper. He wanted people, such as doctors, researchers, engineers etc., and others with such talents and education.  Here is a reference for you from the Washington Post which was never friendly to Trump:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-wants-a-different-kind-of-immigrant-highly-skilled-workers-who-speak-english-and-have-job-offers/2019/05/15/9c1d8eca-772b-11e9-bd25-c989555e7766_story.html:

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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