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Entries in South Africa (5)

10:05AM

WPR's The New Rules: The New World Order-After-Next

There is no faster route to second-tier great power status than for an actual or aspiring superpower to fight a crippling conflict with another country from those same ranks. Moreover, if history is any guide, the glass ceiling that results is a permanent one: This was the fate of imperial Britain, imperial Japan and Germany -- both imperial and Nazi -- in the first half of the 20th century, and the same was true for Soviet Russia in the second half of the century, despite Moscow's conflict with the West being a cold one. The lesson is an important one for Washington, Beijing and New Delhi to keep in mind in the years ahead, given that the two most likely dyads for major war in the 21st century are America-China and China-India. 

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.

12:03AM

The Gap is Asia's to shrink economically

image here

Bloomberg Businessweek with goofy title (Really?  The new silk road doesn't lead to the U.S.?  Wow!  I would have expected otherwise, given our geographic position on the planet.)

All this piece confirms is that the economic integration and development of the Gap will be done primarily by the New Core--not the Old.  That's something I've argued for many years now.  It just makes sense:  the last in, the next integration begin.  Think of it as a staircase:  the higher up you are in the production chain, the less sense it makes for you to be the primary agent of slotting in those who come immediately behind you.

So Europe slotted in North America way back when, then we did the same to Asia and the ABCs of Latin America, and now they do the same to the Gap.

As one expert is quoted in the piece, "We saw the same phenomenon with American and European companies 100 years ago."

Yes, this all means more competition for markets and resources for companies across the Core, but the best of the Old Core's companies will clean up nicely--like a Caterpillar.

A good byproduct:  as the New Core-Gap trade explodes, more of it will be done in currencies other than dollars and euros, and that's a good disciplining pressure on the Old Core--especially the US.

12:04AM

South Africa as the Core's great integrator of the continent?

WSJ on successful World Cup symbolizing South Africa's ambition to unite the continent economically.

Intra-African trade remains paltry by global standards, largely due to missing interior infrastructure, as one colonial legacy is that the entire place is built to move commodities to the coasts.

South Africa now pushes a Cape Town-to-Cairo free trade zone as part of its ambitious vision.  The self-confidence shown is a big deal, because South Africa has the biggest and most liquid financial markets on the continent, so everything has to start there.

But South Africa is part of the problem:  a ten-fold increase in trade with China since the century began, but only a 4-fold increase with the rest of Africa.  So gateway ambition, yes, but not gateway performance--yet.

But Africa is poised for better things, we are told, because it escaped the financial crisis and because it's sizable middle class continues to emerge--and spend.

Here's hoping South Africa's ambition and self-confidence are catching.

12:01AM

Chart of the day: a single-party democracy in South Africa

Economist special report on South Africa.

I always like to remind myself that the ANC were a prime client of the Sovs during the Cold War, appearing in my PhD diss in that role. Why take Sov support? The West wasn't offering any. Fortunately when given the chance to rule, the ANC has done so democratically--more or less.

But like most revolutionary parties, it has ruled in a singular, dominating sense. Pretty easy to do because of the original giants, like Mandela.

But hopefully it gets harder over time.

12:05AM

South Africa: how big the soccer bounce?

Half a million out-of-country soccer fans are expected to show up for the World Cup, along with me for the Time/CNN/Fortune Global Forum (check out the site and the participants bar on the right:  Bill Clinton on top and Tom Barnett at #9 . . . okay, it's Bill Clinton as #1 and three other heavies and the rest are alphabetical).

Anyway, this is a bit of a travelogue piece in Bloomberg BusinessWeek that previews the country you'll find there when you come for the Cup:

What visitors will find is a nation of First World amenities and infrastructure, and a place where optimism is perennially tested by unresolved Third World issues of poverty, crime, inflation, and racial tension. Already the undisputed economic engine of Africa—it accounts for 39 percent of sub-Saharan Africa's gross domestic product—South Africa still labors with plenty of fiscal shortcomings. One of them is that the recession did bite at least a little. Unemployment, which had been trending downward since 2006, rose in 2009 to 24 percent from 22 percent in 2008, throwing tens of thousands of mostly poor and middle-class black South Africans out of work.

On the positive side, South Africa (pop. 49 million) has proven resilient. While it saw a negative GDP of 1.8 percent last year, the economy began growing again at the end of 2009, aided by the vital, $27 billion-a-year tourism industry that saw a slight uptick in visitors in an otherwise down year. Moreover, South Africa has weathered a recent bout of tension sparked by incendiary remarks made by an upstart African National Congress (ANC) politician and the murder of a notorious white supremacist. Predictions by pundits here and abroad of race riots didn't pan out.

Sounds like a country on globalization's frontier alright.

Until last year, South Africa recorded positive growth in GDP every year since true democracy arrived in 1994, defying a lot of predictions.