Daily Archives: June 11, 2007

Gideon Rachman

I got lots of correspondence about my column last week – in which I suggested that the era of American global dominance is coming to a close. Some of it was rank abuse – accusing me of everything from “penis envy” to loathing of the United States.

But there was also a much more reasoned line of argument. This was essentially that I had been much too credulous about Goldman Sachs’s projection that the Chinese economy will be larger than that of the US by 2027. I got lots of e-mails making this point. Here is one (the author prefers to remain anonymous):

“You should go back and read the pieces in the 80′s on Japan overtaking US, before that there was a Brazilian miracle, and the 50s the Soviets were going to take over the world because THEY have figured out how to get things done."

Linear earnings projections did wonders for the internet stock valuations in the 1990s (you just had to extrapolate the same growth rate 10 years into the future), and it seems like political scientists are guilty of the same sin. All of a sudden structural issues in the Chinese society do not matter, (of course 15 years ago the orthodox view was that sustainable long-term economic growth was impossible without democracy and this was why China simply could not grow without an extensive political reform).