Monday, March 15, 2010

China & India - No Economic Miracles, Just Purchasing Power DISParity

As I sit here newly arrived in India, I am amazed at how the public is convinced and fully bought into the hype.

Maybe over time I will stand corrected and begin to see the miracle that is India.
But I know what I see now.  I see a preconstruction cycle that I saw play out in the U.S. firsthand.  I see an unending supply of land. 

I see a populace that is hustling.  It's surprising the number of kids here that are desperate to retire in their 30s and 40s.  Maybe that is a sign of prosperity.  More likely, they are hating life and sick and tired of the misery that is called a U.S. multinational (MNC).  These corporations are chewing and spitting out these workers and garnering market share.  Over time Indians will learn the same painful lessons learnt in the U.S.  ... Walmart versus the Mom n Pops, Credit Card misery and teaser interest rate nightmares.

What I also see is that there is a purchasing power disparity.  Everything is cheaper in India, for the most part, except for imported items.  Those trade at global parity give or take a few bucks.  And that more than anything explains the economic miracle that  is India.  This will continue until the disparity disappears.

But already there are cheaper options emerging - the Phillipines, European Eastern Bloc countries like Romania etc.  India has to move up the value chain, is what the experts say.  What exactly does that mean?

More R&D, higher education, more creativity.  And here is where the miracle will run into roadblocks.  India lacks the infrastructure - physical and electronic - to make this a reality.  Yes there are certainly pockets of wizardry.  But the economic product is a sum total of the market.  Color me skeptical.  And possibly wrong.  I will gain more confidence in my views as I get more insight.

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