During the 1970’s the sudden and enormous wealth of the Arab World as a result of the oil cartel OPEC, made everyone think they would rule the world. Raising oil prices as a result of the US aid to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War (disproving the myth that we only fight for oil), the oil shieks were reported on lavish shopping sprees at Harrods’s in Great Britain handing out 100 dollar bills as tips.
In the 1980’s the Japanese were in the ascent. They bought the Pebble Beach Golf Club, and management consultants tried to copy the Japanese miracle as Japanese cars spelled disaster to the Detroit auto industry.
In the 1990’s the Japanese bubble burst and they have yet to recover. We refer to their lame policies to reignite their economy as the lost decade. The 1990’s was the American decade. The dot.com boom, the internet industry, billion dollar hotels in Las Vegas, stunning victory in Desert Storm, and a budget surplus showcased American economic strength.
The first decade of the millennia was the Chinese decade. They discovered capitalism, hosted the Olympics, began to develop a middle class, and began an industrial growth that fueled a boom in commodity prices. But the Chinese economic growth was fed from the top down, not from the bottom up the way an enduring capitalist economy develops. While we saw our banks crash as a result of revaluing inflated assets, such market adjustments are prevented in China and their banking system in more vulnerable than their government allows to show.
Who will dominate the new decade? India.
India’s capitalism is more bottom up. British rule has left in place institutions of property rights and law that are essential to developing capitalism. Like China, India has cultural shackles to grow out of, but they may be more ready for capitalistic growth than the northern neighbor.
My best performing stock of 2009 was Tata Motors, the GM of India (the old non government owned GM); up over 230%. (Suntrust was the second best.)
We are entering India’s decade.