Your very own crystal ball – now available in paperback – 10 October 2016

Home / Views / Your very own crystal ball – now available in paperback – 10 October 2016

One of the constant themes of these pages over several years has been: Asia – stronger for longer. What we are witnessing is not a transient boom in China, but a series of transformative cycles that is moving billions of people from rural poverty to urban prosperity. It is a transformation that still has decades yet to run.

It is a delight to find that this theme is now echoed by an increasing number of business colleagues, including some eminent names.

The thesis is fully articulated in a just-released book “Riding the Asian Supercycle,” by Graham White.

The book combines the views of a number of people with a close knowledge of Asian development. They include Sam Walsh, recently retired head of Rio Tinto, Mike Smith, who stepped down this year as head of ANZ Bank and the inimitable Don Argus, former NAB and BHP boss, now on the global advisory board of BankAmerica/Merrill Lynch. Also Yasushi Takahashi, head of Mitsui America. I get a guernsey, as do two good friends, Prof Tan Kong Yam from Singapore (ex-World Bank, Beijing) and Geoff Raby, former Australian ambassador to China and now a much respected business advisor.

That group have all been pretty close to Asian business and politics in recent years and though we differ in detail about the rate of progress in different countries, we all share a common thread. This can be summarised under four key headings:

  • The China story is far from over. China has so far lifted the populations of its eastern and seaboard cities to a remarkable level of prosperity, but hundreds of millions in the central and western provinces still lag. President Xi has a strategy to roll the prosperity–wagon westward to these regions. He has the will, the resources and the authority to do it.
  • Next, South-East Asia. China has an ageing population and this (along with prosperity and rising wage levels) means that it will progressively cease to be mass-manufacturer to the world but will concentrate instead on services and higher–tech products. The manufacturing mantle will pass to other countries, notably in the ASEAN bloc, which have younger populations, good education levels and improving infrastructure. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines stand to gain. Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar will benefit from being trade highways linking the massive markets of China and India.
  • India will follow. For a host of reasons (all explained) India will not match China’s growth rates, but even at current rates its sheer size will ensure it becomes the world’s third biggest economy. Some of its progressive states have populations bigger than most countries; they will lead.
  • The ripples will spread. China’s investment in the New Silk Road(s) will spread investment west into Central Asia. Why this is happening is most lucidly explained by Geoff Raby. Yasushi Takahashi sees the benefits spreading down to Africa.

That summary leaves out the complexities and the obstacles (which are, however, explored) but gives a fair indication of why we can be optimistic.
All in all, the book provides a useful crystal ball for anyone trying to divine the economic outlook for the years ahead. Better still, it is in paperback for just $25.
Distribution is still being finalised, but available now from