Sunday, 17 February 2019

A little bit of crystal ball gazing

What's going to happen next?

Well, Heng Swee Keat will be the next PM of Singapore.

And Tan Cheng Bock has announced that he is coming out of political retirement.

But that's all just the near future. And these are just small local details that will not change the BIG PICTURE.

What about climate change?

What about the US-China trade war?

What about the future of work?

What about the Rise of China and the Thucydides Trap?

What about technology - how will it change our world and our way of life?

Here are the "snappy answers".


Climate change? It's already happening. The world will get hotter. The ice caps will melt. Small island nations will sink beneath rising sea levels creating 'climate refugees". The changes, the sacrifices needed to avert cataclysmic climate change are too much.

Oh sure, we can HOPE the world does the right thing and sufficiently.

But hope is not a strategy.

Is technology the answer, the solution?

Yes and no.

And depends on when you think the solution should come. The answer, from Michio Kaku, is that it will get worse, but it would be temporary. Then it will likely get better. In about 30 - 40 years.

Climate change, global warming will only be a problem. For a few decades.

Right? Hope so? Maybe?

So... how long can you tread water?


US-China trade war, the rise of China, and the Thucydides Trap? Well, with Trump and Xi in charge and Kim Jong-Un playing the catalyst or provocateur... the stage is set and the players are in place (see video below).

Graham Allison makes a strong argument for an inevitable clash between China and the US. His detractors suggest that he is being overly pessimistic.


Maybe the US will have domestic problems of their own. Like their debt:

There are lots of anxiety over the growing debt and there are two opinions. One side believes that the growing deficit is a time-bomb, or that it is borrowing future growth to enjoy today, and it is unsustainable, and eventually, there will be a reckoning.

And there will be a collapse. And will this collapse come within the next 12 - 36 months?

The narrator in the above video seems to think so.

And if the US is in the middle of a collapse, they can't deal with a rising China, can they?

Maybe the question would or should be, will China still be rising?

There are signs that China's growth is slowing.
Although Beijing's official GDP figures are tracked as an indicator of the health of the world's second-largest economy, many outside experts have long expressed skepticism about the veracity of China's reports.
"The official GDP figures have been too stable in recent years to be a good guide to China's economic performance," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, a research house.
In other words, even the officially reported slowed growth of 6.6% cannot be trusted. Real growth may be even LOWER than that.

And their debt is growing as well. And this may curtail or completely derail their rise:

Would there still be a Thucydides Trap when the old power fades and the new power loses steam?

Maybe there won't be one?

Or maybe the US and China may try to distract their populace from their domestic issues by creating an external existential threat (each other)?

Nothing detracts like a good war. Ask Galtieri.

Or maybe, China will be able to manage a "soft landing". After all doomsayers have been predicting China's collapse for YEARS.

This video is from 2016:

And this anticipation for China's "inevitable" collapse didn't start in 2016. There has been chatter about China's impending implosion since 2009.

And here we are, 10 years later, still waiting for the hammer to fall.

Perhaps this quote will help frame the issue:
"... it's "easy to forget that China is a managed economy, that they owe all the debts to themselves, and they have trillions of dollars in reserves,” So any other economy might have creditors at the gate, in China's managed economy, the creditors are all on the same page, using the same playbook."
Or maybe we are asking the wrong question, or fighting the wrong battle. Maybe the upheaval will be social:

Joe Scott is concerned that automation and the 4th Industrial Revolution would render about 1/3 of people unemployed.

And wonders if there is a need to redefine our understanding and relationship between work and income.

In other words, there is going to be a global economic collapse of the entire Economic System.

Is there an argument, nay, a need for a Universal Basic Income, then?

There are many people who work as drivers - truck drivers, taxi drivers, and bus drivers just to name the main ones. What happens to their job when the self-driving vehicles become mainstream?

One estimate is that technology (the 4th Industrial Revolution) will put up to 1/3 of the workforce out of a job.

What then?

Scott, in the video, suggests that perhaps society may have to consider redefining or renegotiating the social compact or socio-economic compact.

He's a nice guy. Or an optimist.

The obvious solution to all those unemployed people is to have them join the Military. And what do you do with an overstaff military?

Why start a war of course!


So, what does it all mean?

In terms of Climate change, prepare for change. Prepare for extreme weather. Prepare for weather-related disasters. Those who still think the worst of climate change can be avoided are incurable optimists. Or idealists.

In terms of China's rise, China will continue to rise, and even if there is a hard landing or even crash, it would likely be a temporary thing. China's rise is inexorable. It can be delayed or slowed, but it cannot be prevented or stopped.

Just like Climate Change.

Technology is going to change the world, and people will find a more uncertain world. BUT, humans are the most adaptable creatures evolution ever threw up (at least on Earth) and we will adapt to the changing circumstances.

Or die.

And become extinct.

The US is on the decline. It is still superpower, and it won't roll over and play dead. At least not overnight. In the foreseeable future, its influence and unquestioned military might may wane. And be questioned. But it won't fade away. At least not for a few more decades.

What about the thucydides trap? Will the rising China inevitably have to take down the decaying USA? Or would the challenges of a changing climate, the upheaval of technological development, throw them off the path to the Thucydides Trap?

Or will the millions of unemployed young people be ready fodder for the army in the next great war?

Will the next great war be a cyber war? (Snappy answer: there may be elements of cyber attack and defence, but ultimately, war is for the conquest of real estate, and no, you can do that in cyber-space.)

In anywise there are millions of unemployed people you need to kill off to reduce the social burden. You can't kill people off "cybernetically".

I hope I am wrong.

I frequently am.

No comments: