Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Made In China

Lookout Boeing. There’s a new dot on the radar screen. China intends to battle for space in aerospace and they are very serious about their intentions. In a wire report that hit several global publications, the Chinese government sent notice to the world that developing a presence in the aerospace industry is a national priority and vital to the future of the country. China plans to move forward with a significant investment in R&D to become a real industry player.

Yes, we should all be impressed with China’s interest in entering this important industry. Consider the domestic Chinese market alone. While disposable income of the domestic market might not support heavy airline travel, outside travelers would travel as the population of visitors to China increases. And as the economy continues to grow, so to will the disposable incomes of domestic travelers.

True, China will have to prove itself. Safety, quality and other core issues must be demonstrated in this space to be considered a relevant player. But with the backing of the Chinese government and it’s resources, there should be few doubters over time.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that the Chinese government made a declarative statement about a long-term investment plan important to national economic growth. Since when did America stake itself out on a meaningful long-term growth strategy that went beyond the term limits of a White House inhabitant? Even if the announcement from the Chinese government was nothing more than posturing, I am fascinated by their interest in and ability to plan for long-term issues with significant strategic importance to the country. The western world – especially America – is burdened by a culture of instant gratification. If we could just take a similar approach to our broken education system in this country. But that is a subject for another day.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Only In America

I was struck by a write up in the Economist introducing the “Big Mac Index” – a global equalizer of currency values throughout the world. Of particular interest: the Icelandic krona tops the list as the most overvalued currency. A Big Mac in Iceland will cost you a whopping $7.44. (And it’s not worth it but that should be saved for another debate.) And the most undervalued currency? You guessed it. The Chinese yuan. At $1.41, a Chinese Big Mac can almost qualify for the $.99 value menu.

The fact that a recognized currency equalizer based on the value of a western-born globally identifiable iconic brand even exists speaks volumes about western influence on the world. But I wonder if these western influences will minimize over time? Will we see the day when Asian influences on Western culture emerge? Will they have far-reaching impact similar to the Big Mac Index?