28 June, 2012

Keep calm and carry on

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated".  That saying (misquoting Mark Twain) seems very apt today after reading two commentaries, one on the outlook for New Zealand and the other on the state of the Anglo economies. First was this observation from Cameron Bagries, chief economist at National Bank.
Amidst all the hurly-burly and angst regarding the global scene – which is obviously impacting locally – we must not lose sight of the bigger picture. Yes, New Zealand is beholden to global trends and developments. We too have legacy debt issues to resolve. But New Zealand also offers areas of positive differentiation.
  • We’re becoming more plugged into the faster-growing Asian economies.
  • We’re “long” natural resources (the 8th wealthiest in the world per capita according to World Bank estimates) and Asia is “short”. The dots are being connected further by an aggressive free trade agreement agenda to exploit these natural synergies.
  • Our political framework is nimble, vis-à-vis global peers.
  • Society is “getting it” – not completely, but by-and-large. People broadly understand the importance of savings and living within your means. Much of Europe does not seem to grasp the concept.
  • Microeconomic reform continues to “tilt” the incentives towards more balanced growth.
These differentiators are not often talked about or reported upon. Yet they are increasingly relevant. The journey New Zealand embarked on in 2008 was always going to be tough. The process would be a lot more volatile, longer and strenuous if it weren’t for the above differentiating factors. And it’s great to have gotten through a decent chunk of the journey in a relatively favourable global environment, rather than starting off down the penance trail in a wild storm, as many nations are now doing.
Then I read "The State of the Anglosphere", which appeared in City Journal.
It’s indisputable that the Anglosphere no longer enjoys the overwhelming global dominance that it once had. What was once a globe-spanning empire is now best understood as a union of language, culture, and shared values. Yet what declinists overlook is that despite its current economic problems, the Anglosphere’s fundamental assets—economic, political, demographic, and cultural—are likely to drive its continued global leadership. The Anglosphere future is brighter than commonly believed.
The authors produce comparative statistic after comparative statistic on GDP per capita, revenues in key advanced industries, intra-Anglosphere investment, the overwhelming dominance of Anglo language and culture (screen/music/fashion), military might, fertility rates, immigration, etc.  To quote the article's subtitle, "The decline of the English-speaking world has been greatly exaggerated".

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