2009 October 04 Sunday
China GDP To Pass Japan In 2010
That's China coming up in your rear view mirror.
Though recent wild currency swings could delay the reckoning, many economists expect Japan to cede its rank as the world’s second-largest economy sometime next year, as much as five years earlier than previously forecast.
China's rise is accelerating Japan's decline. The same is happening between China and the United States as factories leave and China bids up the prices of oil and other commodities. The US gets less oil so that China can buy more.
China’s rise could accelerate Japan’s economic decline as it captures Japanese export markets, and as Japan’s crushing national debt increases and its aging population grows less and less productive — producing a downward spiral.
To repeat: Rising Chinese buying power is increasing the competition for natural resources. Some of those natural resources (most notably oil) are either nearing or past their global production peak. This puts China's prosperity in competition with America's and Europe's prosperity. Mind you, what I'm saying is heresy.
Remember the good times because some day people aren't going to believe how you are living now.
By Randall Parker at 2009 October 04 02:56 PM
It seems like it's a zero-sum game in some areas, like competition for natural resources, and a multi-sum game in other areas, like knowledge production.
I look forward to when more countries contribute larger amounts to humankind's scientific and technological output, and Asian countries traditionally do well in that regard relative to their GDP per capita.
Asian cultures even seem to have an intrinsic advantage in some areas because they don't have the West's traditional resistance to human biology, as seen in areas like evolution, genetics/eugenics, and neural materialism (no evidence for a ghost in the brain). In the West, resistance to these areas comes from both the left and the right, but overall the resistance from the left seems to be more of a problem (e.g. the Marxists in the 70s and 80s who fought the rise of genetics) because academia itself skews to the left.
Asian cultures even seem to have an intrinsic advantage in some areas because they don't have the West's traditional resistance to human biology..
But funny how for all that it was the West that produced Darwin, Mendel, Pasteur... People often make the argument that Asian philosophy, ethics, etc. provide more fertile ground for the complex abstract conceptualizing and the nuanced, less dogmatic views necessary for scientific and cultural advancement. And to a Martian comparing the philosophies and attitudes without reference to concrete history, this would logically be the way to bet. Yet it was in the culture with the really kinda primitive crackpot notion of a personal God-man at its foundation, along with the conviction of the worth and meaning of individual souls, where the great scientific revolutions - both physical and biological - exploded. Go figure.
This may have more to do with getting enough dough together, and developing the institution-building chops that allow R&D to flourish, than traditional attitudes - highly intelligent and curious people are always going to be more cosmopolitan and critically detached from received views, anyway - but it's an interesting topic, and history doesn't support the view that traditional Western culture put up more impediments to scientific development than other cultures. In the future? We'll see. I doubt that, in the end, things like fundie resistance to embryonic stem-cell research will have contributed much to the fall of Western science. Billions in R&D investment have left the West for the East in areas that are not in the least bit politically or philosophically controversial, after all.
How many Noble Prizes have the Japanese won?
Those seem like good points, Rohan and Randall.
I wonder, though, if Asian cultures will adopt next generation technology more aggressively than Western cultures.
This isn't just about 'resistance to human biology' in the West... Japan and S. Korea are basically entire societies of technology nerds. In 2007, Japan had 8x-30x the speed of broadband services compared to the US. Since then, we in the US might have made improvements, but so has Japan.
Asian cultures' love of technology hasn't thus far have translated into economic and scientific advantages over the West, but it seems likely the more powerful technology becomes, the more impactful that technology-adoption gap becomes.
For some segments on the left and the right in the West, things like reprogenetics and neurotech are their worst nightmare. An average IQ advantage for Asians of 20 points could go a long way.
I remember some Japanese guy discovered mesons which explained strong interactions... is it Yukawa?
How many multi-hundred megawatt coal plants are firing up per month in Asia burning some of the dirties coal resource? Good thing there is plenty of coal, eh what? Now if we could just lay to rest those vicious rumors about artificial global warming we might be able to put up with the dispersal of mercury throughout the northern hemisphere's biosphere.
As near as I can tell, there have been 16 Japanese Nobel Prize winners:
Makoto Kobayashi (physicist)
Most of these are in the hard sciences (physics, chemistry or medicine). One was for literature and one was for peace. Doesn't seem like a small number to me.
Looking into it a bit more -- the Chinese, at least, appear to be deploying relatively clean coal plants nowadays. What I mean by that is they aren't dumping mercury into the air the way the older plants do. I'm not sure what they're doing with the ash though. Ash is a big mass flow.
As near as I can tell, there have been 16 Japanese Nobel Prize winners...Most of these are in the hard sciences (physics, chemistry or medicine.)
In any given year there are 7-9 winners in physics, chemistry and medicine. Assume 700-900 winners in the last century. 14 isn't really a whole lot.
But back to the issue of oil: 1) the US and Canada have HUGE reserves of tar sands and oil shale, most of which isn't economically productive to convert to oil now, but in the not too distant future? Maybe. That would boost the trade balance of the US. 2) Rising costs of fuel will make imports LESS economically competitive with the stuff built at home. That works against China. China's real advantage is that it doesn't have tens of trillions of dollars worth of suburban real estate built around the assumption of cheap gasoline.
The real problem, of course, is our declining human capital. From 1996 to 2008, the percentage of California 19 year olds in college declined from 43% to 30%. We know exactly why that decline happened, but we're not doing a damn thing to reverse it.