It's all going to 'eck in a handbasket


Or so we're told by a gloomy bunch of accountants:

The report adds, however, that other emerging economies are also growing fast and that by 2020 the E7 (China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey) will be bigger than the current G7 (US, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Canada) if account were taken of different price levels across countries. At market exchange rates, it would take the E7 a further 20 years to surpass the G7.

The message at bottom is that we'd better get our export act together otherwise we're going to be left behind.

There's only four problems with the analysis.

1) This focus on exports. They are simply the blood sweat and tears that we put into something which are then enjoyed by others. The point of this trade thing is to be able to luxuriate in the blood sweat and tears of others sent to us as the products they have made which we import. And larger, richer, economies elsewhere will be making more things we will enjoy. Their getting rich is a good thing.

2) They've made no adjustment for the populations of these countries. That the most populous countries will have the largest economies shouldn't be either shocking or threatening. It's per capita that matters: tiny Luxembourg has an economy aout the size of a single oil company but its 400,000 people are living as high on the hog as any group of humans ever have done.

3) The concentration upon countries is also incorrect: national borders might be convenient in counting but they're not important in any economic manner. What matters, as in 2), is the living and trading patterns of the individuals there, not which flag they salute.

4) Finally, what's wrong with the poor getting rich? Isn't this what Oxfam, Action Aid, the Office of Overseas Development and every either liberal person or human with a heart devoutly desires? That those currently stuck in the killing misery of destitution should join us in these sunny uplands of wealth and lives well lived?

Yes, I know, they're accountants and only counting, not thinking. But then that's why there's a division in universities between those who can only count and they're sent off to become said beancounters, while those who can both count and think become economists.


(Apologies for late publication: I managed to lose this in the queue....Ooops!)