This post has been written by Bruce Greenwald and reproduced here with his permission
Indian growth is going to depend overwhelmingly on what happens locally in India.
The reason India and China went from being peripheral players in the world market in 1980 to the powerful forces they are today didn’t have to do with changes in the global market. It had to do with local changes in India and China. In places where these changes haven’t taken place — in Russia for example — you see their participation in the global economy is what it always has been: just as a supplier of raw materials.
The reason so many Chinese goods now sell around the world is not because the demand for those goods has suddenly materialized, but because productivity growth in China — and it’s the same in India — enabled it to provide goods and compete successfully in global markets.
This trend is going to get more — not less — important in the future.
If there is one enormous anti-globalization trend, it is that local services — education, medical care, housing — are becoming much more important for consumption and therefore economic activity than manufacturing or other kinds of services. There is a limited demand for manufacturers — there are only so many suits of clothes you can own, in the same way there is only so much food you can eat, notwithstanding the rising weights of Americans. Manufacturing, in terms of its importance in employment and economic activity, is going to go the way of agriculture in the 20th century.
This applies also to outsourceable services. Remember, for services to be outsourceable, you have to be able to routinize them. If you can routinize them, you can automate them. If you can automate them, those jobs are ultimately going away. So local services are going become much more important in India and all over the world.
Read More »