Map of Countries Sized by Population & a Changing Global Economy Dominated by Asia

This map was tweeted by @incrediblemaps and shows us the size of countries relative to their populations, which as we know has big implications for food security and the commodity trade markets.

On a related note, one of the news items that really got my attention last week was the WSJ sideline interview of Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard, during his speaking engagement at the Credit Suisse Asian investment conference in Hong Kong.

From the WSJ’s blog:

…he can foresee a tri-polar world in which China and India are the major economic powers, counterbalanced by a bloc of the United States, Europe and Japan, whose populations together will total about one billion people.

“We’ve said the U.S. is a superpower, an economic superpower. But these are giants, they’re bigger than a superpower,” he said. “What would that world be like, both economically and politically? I think that’s really hard to understand. How much would the Western bloc be willing to cooperate politically to be a counterbalance to China and India?”

Mr. Bullard offered few specifics of what such a world would look like, but did acknowledge that it might require some adjustment on the part of ordinary Americans like those he serves in the heartland.

This future is a challenge to imagine, but has implications for the competition for oil and energy, number one, I think, and all of the other commodities, with ever-bigger demands on the Earth’s natural resources. It has jobs implications; global communications will continue to improve and evolve; technological advancements and innovations will be coming more and more from Asia; and, global politics and alliances will change, as Bullard states. Finally, it has big implications for food and agriculture. My personal view is that there will be very surprising innovations in both of these sectors.

In another weekend article, the NYT’s travel section contained this interesting paragraph:

Ernst & Young estimates that by 2030, nearly one billion people in China could enter into the middle class and have a disposable income that allows them to travel domestically and abroad. Ten years ago their government singled out tourism as a key pillar of economic growth, and as a result, they have invested well ahead of the curve in high-speed trains, hotel complexes and airports to absorb growth within the middle class. In fact, right now they are busy building 69 airports around the country, so that in the future no person in the country will be more than a 90-minute drive from an airport.

There are a few “somethings that are gonna haftagive” when we consider these rapidly changing global dynamics.

If you have any visions of where this puts people in Bullard’s heartland, in, say the year 2035, please let us know your ideas in the comments. What does the future look like for your children under this scenario? What will their standard of living look like? What will transportation and supply chains look like in the U.S. and in Asia? Where will the job opportunities be? Will there be enough jobs? What will global cooperation look like by then?

9 thoughts on “Map of Countries Sized by Population & a Changing Global Economy Dominated by Asia

  1. rjs

    a little over 3 years ago i wrote “the coming chinese hegemony”, one of my more researched posts, that made that case, riffing off a foreign policy article that forecast the chinese economy would be 40% of the global economy and 8 times the size of Europe with a per capita income of $85,000 by 2040…but that was merely an extrapolation of the exponential growth rate at the time and didnt take demographics into consideration…so i now think that China will go the way of Japan and stop growing as their workforce ages and is not replaced….for the same reasons, i look for India to rise to economic superpower status by the end of this decade, and pass both us and China within 5 years after that…i also imagine Brazil will pass Japan as the 4th largest economy, and Indonesia’s GDP to be greater than any country in Europe except perhaps Germany…

    NB: Demand for engineering grads slows down: Report : “India now trains more engineers annually (1.5 million) than China (1.1 million) and the US (0.1 million) combined”

    that should give you a clue as to what the future holds…

    1. K. McDonald Post author

      Thanks, rjs, for your informative note!

      Both India and China have a lot of governing obstacles to overcome. If it carries over to the other areas, all I ever see about agricultural policy in India, is what a mess it is, and it seems to never change and get beyond the problems it has. In fact, I think governing is the huge wildcard. Look at Russia. Look at Argentina.

      The level of affluence achieved by a significant percent of each population will be key.

      A lot will also ride on energy, water, and agriculture. Latin America also has advantages when it comes to water and agriculture and demographics.

      And what about banking, the markets, and the Central Banks? Currency valuations?

      And will we ever develop an economic system that focuses on goals other than growth?

      Interesting times ahead.

      1. rjs

        well, Kay, outside of a war or an imposed cultural revolution, the type of governments in those countries should not have a sizable impact on economic growth, which for the purpose of my discussion is simply “the output of the goods and services produced by the country”, which i believe is what bullard was referring to as well…talking about GDP growth passes no moral judgement on whether it’s good or not, nor whether the country in question has the type of government we’d view favorably..

        so far, the political systems in both india and china have not been detrimental to that kind of growth; although both are slowing this year, china’s been expanding at over a 9% rate over the past half dozen years, while India’s growth rate is something closer to 7%; compare that to the 1.9% growth rate we’ve just put up…both countries are leaffrogging over the intermediate steps of development and going right to cutting edge infrastructure and technology…and the new governor of the RBI, raghuram rajan, is probably the most competent central banker in any major country…

        1. K. McDonald Post author

          So you don’t think our governing matters when it comes to our own gdp (austerity vs stimulus) in recent years; or, that the diversion of aid $ in some African nations does not hinder their own gdp’s; or Argentina’s trade rules and government spending, boom/bust cycles with hyperinflation are not caused by governing, and/or those things don’t affect their gdp? It was China’s recent governing that led to their rapid gdp growth, right?

          Regarding your comment, “so i now think that China will go the way of Japan and stop growing as their workforce ages and is not replaced” – in my opinion is far too gloomy of an outlook for China. Yes, their gdp is slowing, but will continue at a pace well beyond Japan’s no-growth of recent decades. As for governing, they have an advantage over us with our stalemates in Congress, when making decisions. Though their citizens are happy to get out of their polluted environs when progress and development are the chosen goals – above all else. It hasn’t all been a pretty picture.

          But, the point of this post was to present the broad picture and generalities. And, just to remind ourselves of what we already knew, and what that implies for our own heartland down the road. If you have a crystal ball for that, would love to hear it.

          Timely, today, regarding China’s politics and its currency:

          1. rjs

            i didnt really address the effects of our government policy on our growth; everything i said was in reference to governments in the fast growing countries i mentioned…and i included enough fudge words to allow for current conditions to change…
            to put our austerity in perspective, in our just completed 4th quarter, we had a government shutdown lasting three weeks that caused a curtailment of government consumption and investment at a 14% annual rate; that caused a 1% hit to the 4th quarter GDP…but that’s an annualized figure, which means the worst imaginable austerity, a government shutdown, took just 1/4th of a percent off growth in 2013…
            i cant imagine anything like that in china…austerity seems to be an uniquely western affliction; if we need an airport, the first question we ask is where is the money for it…if china needs an airport, the first question they ask is where are the workers and the equipment to build it..

            here’s three headlines from this week that answer the lecture to China from the WSJ:

            Bundesbank, PBOC in Pact to Turn Frankfurt Into Renminbi Hub - Germany’s Bundesbank and the People’s Bank of China agreed to cooperate in the clearing and settling of payments in renminbi, paving the way for Frankfurt to corner a share of the offshore market.

            Britain Gains Renminbi Trading Deal –  The Bank of England and the People’s Bank of China reached an agreement on Wednesday to allow the clearing and settlement of renminbi trades in London, the first such arrangement to be struck outside of Asia and another sign of the British government’s determination to make London a leading Western hub for Chinese trading.

            Yuan Passes Euro as 2nd-Most Used Trade-Finance Currency -

            what all this implies for Americans living with their heads in the sand out there in the heartland is that someday they’ll wake up and find out that they’re living in a third world country and that the future has past them by..

  2. Michael

    Hi Kay, I’m a big fan of your posts. When I saw this one above, I thought you might be interested in an infographic which the agricultural coalition Farming First created looking at global agriculture in the year 2030.

    The infographic compiles a series of 15 statistics from the UN and various other forecasters to give a sense of what the big challenges facing agriculture will be once the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals expire in 2030. It’s pretty revealing actually, for instance: 543 million people are expected to still be undernourished; a extra 1 billion people will live in areas of water stress; agriculture’s climate mitigation potential can rise 3 times if carbon prices move from less than $20 to more than $50 ; 9 of 10 major crops are expected to have reduced growth rates and could be up to 90% more expensive.

    You can see it here if of interest:

    1. K. McDonald Post author

      Thanks so much for that, Michael. I’m glad to see that they expect the number of hungry people to be way down in spite of the population rise, that agrees with the outlook I’d expect. I will use that on this site sometime soon!

  3. Joe

    Every story I read about China, the numbers are stunning. There are 30 airports that matter in the US. China is now building more than twice that.


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