An Asian nation with a roaring economy will eclipse the United States … America has entered a cycle of decline, while the sun is rising in the East … soon all our products will be made overseas and America will falter … doom is at hand.
The above paragraph does not describe Monday’s news about the expansion of the Chinese economy — this is what opinion-makers were saying about Japan in the 1980s. And how’d that work out for you, Tokyo?
“Experts,” the New York Times intoned on Monday, are impressed by “China’s clout” and believe “China will pass the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy as early as 2030.” If experts think this, then it’s certain not to happen.
Yet the sentiment is widespread. This recent Pew Research Center poll found that a plurality of Americans — 44 percent — think China already is the world’s number one economic power, while just 27 percent of Americans think the United States still anchors the global economy.
It is wise therefore to remember what was said about Japan in the 1980s. Japan’s GDP growth was rapid, Japanese investors were snapping up New York City real estate, Sony just bought CBS Records. Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry was whispered about as possessing near-supernatural prowess. Commentators said only “industrial policy” – direct government control of business decision-making – could save America from becoming a vassal to Tokyo’s super-ultra-unstoppable economy.