Howling “Wolf”

Andrew Pegler – 12 November 2010

James Wolfensohn – not the 1950s Chicago blues legend – reckons Australia is missing the Asian boat and that the US will be stuffed for years.

James Wolfensohn is an Australian-born investment banker who became president of the World Bank in 1995. He reckons Australia hasn’t really woken up to the global shift east yet. The “Wolf” reads a lot. He gets out heaps. And he’s just written his autobiography called A Global Life. According to the Wolf our failing is to do with education. “The interest of young Australians to study in Asia is less than it should be given the huge economic dependence of Australia on Asia as a buyer of natural resources. We should be putting a tremendous effort into making sure that our young people understand those cultures better.” He has a point. So go east young men and women!

He’s also pretty downbeat on the US economy. “For the next two or three years growth will be two or three per cent, which won’t get them out of this problem”. That problem, according to the Wolf, is 10% unemployment and a further 7% have either fallen off the radar or can only get a few hours’ work a week. That makes near 17% unemployment. The Wolf also estimates that by 2050 over 60% of global GDP will be in Asia and points out this last happened in 1815. FYI in 2000 80% of the world’s GDP came from the US, Europe and Japan.

For what it’s worth here’s an idea for Barack. In an effort to kick start your ailing economy, shift that stubborn 10% unemployment, offset your crippling national debt and postpone the looming national identity crisis that will come as global power moves inexorably from west to east, the US should consider obtaining an Avon distributorship. I’m sure Hilary will be busting to hit the road and sell high-quality cosmetics and perfumes, particularly the bath and body care ranges. Vice President Joe Biden could run the online shop and Ben Bernanke could manage the customer relationships with China and India.

I will be in my caravan.

And in other news… the aforementioned US economy grew 2% over the last quarter up from 1.7% in the quarter before that. The biggest driver of demand there, consumer spending, i.e. people buying stuff, rose a tad but continues its sluggish form compared to past deep recessions.