Friday, January 2, 2009

U.S. & China: Economic Interdependence?

I haven't posted anything here since returning to the U.S. last year and resuming my relatively normal work routine, but decided to start posting again. So, as I find the time and something of interest strikes me, I'll post it.

For starters, I read
this article from the International Herald Tribune describing how the American (and worldwide) economic slowdown is impacting China. If we think we're hurting here in the U.S., it may be worthwhile considering how much worse off many Chinese workers will be as a result.

While Americans have been irresponsibly overspending in recent years which has certainly contributed to the problems currently being experienced, that spending has helped create millions of mostly low-paying jobs in China. As American consumer spending decreases, the number of workers employed in Chinese factories is also decreasing and resulting in increasing unemployment.


President-elect
Obama and the U.S. government is certainly faced with a serious challenge in revitalizing the U.S. economy. However, the problem is not solely a domestic one. The American economy has a huge impact on much of the world, including the current century's growing economic superpower, China. In the past few decades, China has been able to bring a few hundred million people out of extreme poverty. If that trend reverses, the Chinese government may face even greater challenges than the U.S. With its huge population, China's first priority must be to provide jobs in order to avoid the type of economic calamity that in its long history has caused numerous peasant uprisings ultimately leading to forced changes in government.

Maybe this is all just another example of increasing globalization, illustrating that there can be negative as well as positive effects. If so, international cooperation would seem to be crucial to resolving such major economic problems. Let's hope that President Obama's campaign message of "change" will include his playing a leading role in fostering such cooperation among the United States, China and other countries. If Obama and other world leaders can't solve the problems, maybe author/globalization-guru
Thomas Friedman ("The World is Flat") can come up with something - I imagine we'll have to wait a new book for his solutions though.

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