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Robotification Ramification
China’s Robot Problem
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  • f1b0nacc1

    You refer to robots as a problem for China, let me suggest that 3D printing (which has the potential to undermine a huge part of the demand for cheap crap in the first place) is an even bigger threat.
    Ironically, the developed world is in a superb position to benefit from all of this, while the Chinese (with a rapidly aging workforce and an even more rapidly increasing set of expectations) is in a superb position to suffer from it. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

    • Elliot Carver

      You’re certainly not alone in thinking so: see this article

      Unfortunately for China it is a bit too late to the party. Western countries such as the United States developed a strong middle class from the 1940s to 1960s, a period which saw rapid economic growth along with reductions in inequality, which in a virtuous cycle saw rising wages and strong consumer demand lead to higher corporate profits. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan also saw a period of growth with equity, and grew a middle class that allowed them to switch their economies from exports and investment to consumption.

      China, on the other hand, has seen fast economic growth and increases in inequality to Latin American levels. It won’t be able to shift from investment and exports to consumption because wealth is being concentrated at the top. Entering the WTO enabled it to see a couple years of fast growth in the 2000s but then in 2009 when the recession hit China the government stepped in and told the banks to lend, lend, lend, and the Chinese government itself estimates that some $6.8 trillion in capital, or 37% of China’s investment since then, has been wasted in unproductive projects. I do think China can kick the can down the road for a while, but China is also aging and the Modigliani-Miller life cycle model suggests that savings will start decreasing.

  • Corlyss

    Good news IMO. The more trouble they have at home, the less time and energy they have to mess with their neighbors.

  • Anthony

    No hiding! China will adjust – it’s called the convergence effect. China grapples with effects of economic growth, social mobilization, and ideas but it’s an old civilization and will be just fine in a transitioning world. Modernization and economic growth, a la Samuel Huntington.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Luddites have raised their heads in this article, the assumption that machines will leave everyone unemployed is wrong, and has been since 1811 when the Luddites first protested. If machines were taking human jobs instead of freeing up humans for more productive work, then after 2 centuries of replacement most people would be unemployed. The Fact is the Welfare State which pays people not to work does much more damage to employment then robots ever will, and it’s long term damage rather than short term.

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