I was watching this blogging heads video about the Asian experience in America (it’s better than that description) – and the guest said something to the effect – “Chinese culture has prioritized test preparation for over 1,000 years” – referencing China’s long tradition of civil service exams. The actual number mentioned was dedicating 20% of family income to test preparation.
That puts Chinese culture on the commanding heights of modern “meritocracy” with it’s prioritization of symbolic analysis and abstractions – and very poorly suited for everything else. David Friedman made a similar connection in his “Legal Systems Very Different from Ours” book.
Microsoft is drop shipping me something from China! It’s amazing the supply chain is that integrated.
I read this fawning article on the future of China in der Spiegel. The go on and on about the benefits of state owned industry, and a central strategy for all of China’s economic activity. And not once do they use the term “National Socialism”!
Tyler Cowen shares my concerns about China, namely that they can’t take a punch, or in this case, an economic downturn.
If you are not convinced, raise your right hand and repeat after me: “China in the 20th century had two major revolutions, a civil war, a World War, The Great Leap Forward [sic], mass starvation, the Cultural Revolution, arguably the most tyrannical dictator ever and he didn’t even brush his teeth, and now they will go from rags to riches without even a business cycle burp.”
It’s worth reading the whole thing.
The ever-readable Mickey Kaus has some good insight
Escape from TimesSelect: The NYT’s Tom Friedman, in an exceptionally blowhardish appearance on Meet the Press, laments the effect of massive U.S. borrowing from China:
I think we have–we are now in a position where China has– they’re heading for $1 trillion, OK, of our–in reserves that they’re going to be holding, basically. And the leverage that is going to give China over the United States in the coming years, God knows where– how that’s going to play out.
Hmm. If you lend a trillion dollars to someone, does that give you leverage over them or them leverage over you? I’d always thought it was the latter, especially when the debtor is a sovereign nation. (Keynes: “Owe your banker 1000 [pounds] and you are at his mercy; owe him 1 million [pounds] and the position is reversed.”)
It’s worth noting that the Chinese (and whoever) are gambling on the US Government keeping it’s word and paying back all of their debts, which seems a bit iffy.
While various members of the Commentariat (I’m looking at you Charlie Rose) talk quite a bit about the “peaceful rise of China” articles like this one about Indian Medical Vacations make me think that it will be India that will rise much higher. China seems to be putting a lot of effort into posturing lately, and their currency machinations will come back to bite them big time.