By Joel Kotkin and Richard Florida
For the past 40 years, the Pacific Rim has been, if you will, California’s trump card. But now, in the age of President Donald Trump and decelerating globalization, the Asian ascendency may be changing in ways that could be beneficial to our state.
Rather than President Barack Obama’s famous “pivot to Asia,” it now might be more accurate to speak of Asians’ pivot to America. Once feared as a fierce competitor, East Asia is facing an end to its period of relentless growth, and now many interests appear to find that the United States offers a more secure, and potentially lucrative, alternative.
This era reflects profound changes in East Asia’s prospects. They increasingly are coping with many of the demographic, social and economic challenges that have bedeviled the West since the 1970s — competition from cheaper countries, technological obsolescence, a demoralized workforce and diminishing upward mobility. The verve of the late 20th century is being supplanted by the anxieties of the early 21st.
Forty years ago, overpopulation constituted the big issue facing East Asia. Governments from Singapore to Korea and, most importantly, China, imposed anti-natalist policies, fearing that their economic success would be overcome by a tide of new citizens. Today, East Asia confronts the world’s most stagnant demography.
By 2030, according to the United Nations, Japan, still the world’s third-largest economy, will have more people over 80 than under 15, and, by 2050, it is expected to see its population fall by 15 percent. Many of the other Asian “tigers,” which followed Japan’s model, are saddled with a fertility rate so low that, over the next 35 years, they will join the island nation among the most elderly nations on earth.
East Asia’s demographic crisis will hit critical mass once China, the planet’s second-largest and most dynamic large economy, feels the full impact of its super-low fertility rate. By 2050, China’s population will have a demographic look like ultra-old Japan’s today — but without the higher affluence levels of its Asian neighbor to pay for all of the retirees.
Technology and the challenge of Trumpism
The rise of the Pacific Rim was driven, in large part, by manufacturing growth. Following the model of Japan, Asian countries grew by keeping imports out and building enormous surpluses of manufactured goods. The resulting imbalances were accepted by American administrations even when exacerbated by mercantilist policies directed against our own producers.
The acceptance of such an arrangement ended in 2016 with the election of economic nationalist Donald Trump. But the new trade environment also includes the effective capture of the Democratic Party by elements close to Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, now America’s most popular politician. Sanders is fiercely skeptical on free trade, and his candidacy even forced Hillary Clinton, a long-time globalist, to back protectionist policies.
Trump’s proposals to match China’s import fees and to hector companies into keeping jobs in the United States represent a huge threat to the mercantilist Asian economic model. This, at a time when new automation technology, cheaper energy and rising wage rates also are persuading Asian producers to shift production to the United States.
Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.
Joel Kotkin is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, was published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class Conflict, The City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He is executive director of NewGeography.com and lives in Orange County, CA.
With the first billionaire in the White House, Wall Street booming and, for the first time in almost a decade, very solid and broad based job growth, one would think America’s business elite would be beaming. But that’s not so because the country’s moguls are more divided than at any time in recent history.
A growing tech industry is often considered the ultimate sign of a healthy local economy. By that measure, the Bay Area still stands at the top of the heap in the United States, but our survey of the metropolitan areas with the strongest tech job growth turns up some surprising places not usually thought of as tech meccas. Read more
The Orange County Register
Numerous commentaries from both the political left and right have expounded the parlous state of the Democratic Party. And, to be sure, the Democrats have been working on extinguishing themselves in vast parts of the country, and have even managed to make themselves less popular than the Republicans in recent polls.
Yet, in the longer term, the demographic prospects of a Democratic resurgence remain excellent. Virtually all of the growing parts of the electorate — millennials, Latinos, Asians, single women — are tilting to the left. Read more
The Orange County Register
America is increasingly a nation haunted by fears of looming dictatorship. Whether under President Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” rule by decree, or its counterpoint, the madcap Twitter rule of our current chief executive, one part of the country, and society, always feels mortally threatened by whoever occupies the Oval Office.
Given this worsening divide, perhaps the only reasonable solution is to move away from elected kings and toward early concepts of the republic, granting far more leeway to states, local areas and families to rule themselves. Read more
The Daily Beast
American greatness was long premised on the common assumption was that each generation would do better than previous one. That is being undermined for the emerging millennial generation.
The problems facing millennials include an economy where job growth has been largely in service and part-time employment, producing lower incomes; the Census bureau estimates they earn, even with a full-time job, $2,000 less in real dollars than the same age group made in 1980. More millennials, notes a recent White House report , face far longer period of unemployment and suffer low rates of labor participation. More than 20 percent of people 18 to 34 live in poverty, up from 14 percent in 1980. Read more
The Daily Beast
The oligarchs’ ball at Trump Tower revealed one not-so-well-kept secret about the tech moguls: They are more like the new president than they are like you or me.
In what devolved into something of a love fest, Trump embraced the tech elite for their “incredible innovation” and pledged to help them achieve their goals—one of which, of course, is to become even richer. And for all their proud talk about “disruption,” they also know that they will have to accommodate, to some extent, our newly elected disrupter in chief for at least the next four years. Read more
When Americans consider a move to another part of the country, they sometimes are forced to make a tough choice: should they go to a city with the best job opportunities, or a less economically vital area that offers a better standard of living, particularly more affordable housing? However, there are still plenty of metropolitan areas in the U.S. where you can get the best of both worlds. Read more
Orange County Register
The consumer technology boom, largely responsible for a resurgence in California’s economy after the tech wreck of 2001, seems to be coming to an end. The signs are widespread: slowing employment, layoffs from bell-weather social media companies, the almost embarrassing difficulty of finding buyers for Twitter, the absorption of Yahoo by Verizon and the acquisition by Microsoft of LinkedIn. Read more
- How to Take Advantage of the Retail ApocalypseJune 27, 2017 - 9:08 am
- Want to be green? Forget mass transit. Work at home.June 23, 2017 - 3:45 pm
- Amazon Eats Up Whole Foods as the New Masters of the Universe Plunder AmericaJune 20, 2017 - 2:40 pm
- Joel Kotkin on California’s Descent into SocialismJune 20, 2017 - 8:04 am