Friday, February 22, 2013

Global Musical Chairs

There's nothing like self-interest to shape one's perspective.

With the ascendancy of the emerging economies: - China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico and South Africa - those of us in the developed world face the prospect of possibly having to do with less as our rivals muscle us out of some markets that were once ours for the taking.   They've got money, they want to buy the stuff we want, they'll compete and we're going to have to pay more for somewhat less.

But imagine what the future holds for the have-nots.   They too are going to have to compete with the new wealth and as the rich, old and new, developed and emerging, drive up prices, the have-nots are going to be settling for scraps.

The land grabs underway in the Third World are a perfect example.  Even poor countries with chronic food shortages are seeing their best farmland snapped up by rich countries from Asia and the Middle East.   These same emerging economies are getting a lock on Third World resources too.   All those years while we were keeping Kabul safe from the Taliban, China quietly moved in to buy control of Afghanistan's substantial copper reserves.  More recently, China has locked up control of the southern port city of Gwadar in Pakistan's Baloch region.  What's next, an overland pipeline from Iran straight into China?

We're going to feel the pinch of this ascendant, new affluence but it's the Third World that will be the low-hanging fruit for easy picking.  The poor countries are already in the crosshairs of climate change, food insecurity and freshwater shortages.   Now they could be picked clean of what little remains.   Let the migrations begin.

No comments: