The Shift in World Economic Power

By Judy Nagel, Envision Board Member and Upward Mobility Signals Team

Could the Indian and Chinese economies outpace the economies of the United States and Western Europe? Economic analysts say yes. Projections show the U.S. percentage of world GDP shrinking from 16% to 12%, with China’s share growing from 16% to 27% and India’s GDP growing from 7% to 16%. (These new levels are anticipated by 2100.)

So how is this possible? Currently China’s and India’s productivity growth lags behind that of the United States, but, if Chinese workers were as productive as American workers, China’s GDP would exceed the U.S. GDP by a factor of 4.3. Because this analysis is based on productivity and demographics, however, immigration growth would boost the U.S. economy in the long term.

Economists cited in “Will China and India Become the World’s Top Economies? It Depends” take note of – and exception to – a 2019 study that positions the U.S. as “the end-of-century economic kingpin.” Another perspective these authors offer puts India in the lead by 2100. Why? Because India’s population will be double that of China but with the same labor productivity. They characterize the possible position of the U.S. by century’s end as “particularly grim,” and suggest that Western Europe could move from one of the world’s largest economies to one of its smallest.

The authors identify a variety of changes that could determine the actual “economic kingpin” at the end of this century, including reduction of legal immigration into the U.S. or China’s continued one-child policy along with its preference for less efficient state enterprises over a more efficient private sector. These are definitely early signals that the response from multiple players will determine future economic dominance.

For a summary as well as links to the specific reports cited, read this article from Forbes by Stuart Anderson, Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy.  

Let Them Eat Seaweed! The Promise of Innovation

by Judy Nagel, Envision board

What if an issue endemic to northeast Wisconsin turned out to be a substantial contributor to global warming – and then someone turned it on its head and converted the problem into a whole new industry? Our area has done it before – all it needs is an altruistic entrepreneur.

The issue is about cows and burping. Yes, 30% of global warming is due to methane release, and one-third of that methane comes from livestock. In a single year one cow emits as much methane as a small car, and the reason is simple: Cows are gassy due to the roughage they eat, which results in lots of burping. The burping emits methane.  Worldwide, 1.5 billion cows are eating, burping and creating methane – and a good portion of cows live in our area.

Researchers have found, however, that asparagopsis, a type of seaweed, can allow those cows to chow down without burping, nearly eliminating livestock methane emissions. Even better, if a mere two-tenths of one percent of a cow’s daily ration included such seaweed, maximum benefit could be achieved! Read interesting details from Salon: Can we grow enough seaweed to help cows fight climate change?

Using the environmental research resources of the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, access to the bay, carbon tax credits, and investment capital from Titletown Tech, could we develop a local suitable seaweed to harvest? We might create, at the same time, a new sustainable industry for the agricultural base of our economy!


Foreign Direct Investment–A Signal to Watch

By Judy Nagel, Envision Board Member

What are the key signals of social mobility? Labor, education, technology, healthcare and social protections – and FDI: foreign direct investment. A key indicator of positive social mobility is the investment by foreign countries in American businesses, and this particular indicator has taken a startling downward shift. Until 2020, the US led in FDI with China a distant second. All that has changed now, and FDI is definitely a signal we need to watch.