An unmistakable mega-trend this decade is the great power shift from countries in the ‘West’ and ‘North’ of the world to those in the ‘East’ and ‘South’.
No one knows for sure how the surge in influence will play out in a global sense or, given forces like the Internet, even if nations will be the primary actors in world affairs 50 years from now. Let’s face it, it’s tough enough to get a handle on past international relations, let alone predict future ones.
George McDonald Fraser comically described the Schleswig-Holstein Question as so complicated that it was understood by only three men: one who died, one who went mad thinking about it, and Lord Palmerston, who never could remember the answer.
Here are 15 random signposts and markers on the big, fast and young shift ahead, pulled out of the media currents:
1. In 2050, almost 80% of the world’s population of 9 billion will live in Asia and Africa.
2. The Asian economies now have more of the 2500 largest publicly-held companies (market cap) than either North America or Europe.
3. Roughly half the world’s 7 billion people are under 25.
4. Africa, with half the fastest growing economies in the world, will double in size by 2050. It will soon be the fastest growing region in the world. It was the best performing region in the world in the immediate aftermath of the crisis. It has half the fastest growing economies in the world. Its mobile telephone penetration is now close to BRIC, that’s from a standing start.
5. BRIC and the CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa) are taking over. In 10 years the E7—the major emerging economies will pass the G7.
6. By 2022, those living in poverty will be a minority for the first time, as the global middle class surges. By 2030, the global middle class will double to 5 billion.
7. In two years’ time, more than 50% of the world’s output will come from low and middle-income countries.
8. The capital of Colombia, Bogota, is now safer than Miami, Washington, or Atlanta.
9. It now takes 16 languages to get the most influential global web presence.
10. Moscow has more billionaires than any other city. Luxury cars sales in Russia increased by 30.5% in the first half of 2010.
11. The wealthy in China are 15 years younger than those in the West.
12. Brazilians have the highest number of online “friends” in the world.