Rising Standard of Living in Emerging Markets

The global economy is growing but it doesn’t feel like it in the developed countries (the United States, Japan and the Eurozone).  Asia is booming.  India is growing at a healthy clip.  Africa and South America are exporting massive amounts of natural resources.  China has surpassed Japan to become the number two economy in the world, although they still lag the United States by far, which retains the number one position. 

There are 6.8 billion people in the world.  About 800 million of them live in the developed countries.  That leaves 6 billion people in emerging market countries who aspire to the American dream, which in essence, is a standard of living.  American exceptionalism is not elitism or nationalism.  It is the understanding that anyone can come here, work hard and provide a good life for their family.  Unfortunately it is not possible for every emerging market country to emulate the United States in our standard of living due to political instability (or corruption) and the lack of rule of law in their native countries.  As emerging market countries adopt policies that encourage the rise of a middle class, they are prospering.  When the Chinese started acting like capitalists their economy exploded.  Obviously they have a long way to go towards rule of law and an open society, but a little bit of freedom for 1.3 billion people goes a long way, and has had a profound impact on the global economy.

I believe the U.S. economy is healing but it has a long way to go.  High unemployment and the depressed real estate market will not go away without significant changes in public policy from Washington.  Hopefully the recent elections will bring us closer to the fruition of those policies.  It will not be pleasant for families that are depending on government entitlement programs or for the taxpayers that must sacrifice to pay for them.  It will take a lot of time to strike a balance between these two constituencies if our experience is anything like what we’ve seen in Greece and France.  It will require character and leadership from Washington which has not been evident thus far.

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Filed under + Economics, Politics and Financial Planning

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