The FTSE wobbles around the 6500s. Sometimes up a bit. Sometimes down. Where nowadays do you hear anyone confidently saying it will get to 20,000 within five years? Anywhere? No, you don’t. Think then for a moment about Asia. I was at a meeting this morning in Manila where a cocky and successful banker – a CEO – openly predicted the market here (still tiny compared to London) which has doubled in less than two years, will be up by at least double again and maybe treble before too many more years are passed.
I’m writing in the Philippines where interest rates – 90 Day Treasury Bills – were at 15 percent five years ago. They are now at 5 percent. Many markets here such as property, have not yet woken up to the change. The government’s deficit is well down on where it was 5 years ago. The local currency, the Peso is rising strongly against the Dollar.
At the meeting this morning, there was an audience of about 40 people. Not one laughed out loud, or seriously doubted what the banker was saying. The potential is all upside, despite political problems, corruption problems and lack of infrastructure. He received questions casting doubts and objections on his thesis, but each on them he dealt with and explained that what were once barriers to growth are barriers no more.
On EU Referendum website, much of the focus is on the political wrongheadedness of the EU. The other half of the story is just as serious. Britain is locked into the part of the world’s economy where prospects only get worse with each passing decade. Our European links are too strong, not just from the political viewpoint where our democratic tradition is being throttled into submission, with our own version of corruption at the hands of New Labour – the ludicrously self-named ‘anti-sleaze’ outfit – growing like weeds across government. It’s also the economic cost. We should be moving out of that morass of hopelessness where economic growth always manages to fall below the most pessimistic forecasts to around 1-2% a year,, and we should be getting into those parts of the world where growth is measured between 5-10 percent per annum year on year.
China’s economy has passed over Germany’s. Korea, Vietnam, Thailand (despite coups), Philippines are all heading North fast. That is where British capital, entrepreneurs and managers should be heading. Britain has many advantages – language, technical ability, cultural sensitivity, excellent financing industries and financial services, and we should be high up in the economic growth game.
But we’re right down in the bottom of the table, along with our so-called EU partners. Once it has worked through its sub-prime lending issues, the USA might well bounce back into life with its growing population projected to be 400 million by 2050, and a declining dollar re-energising its trade. The USA is free to go wherever its business leaders decide. But Britain, which should be even freer, is land-locked in a Brussels-obsessed quagmire.
The future is not going to be London. OK it will have one or two better patches but it will be as nothing compared to the emerging markets. The populations of India, China and all the others already dwarf the EU, and they are still growing rapidly. The peasants that the EU looks down on, and wishes to exclude from its markets in its missplaced Mandelsonian protectionism, will before long become middle class consumers desperate to acquire the products and lifestyles that Europeans still feel instinctively should be excusively theirs.
The European view is ultimately a racist view of the world, and a blinkered, backwards-looking one. Britain should extricate herself from the bind she is in. It might have made sense in the 1950s in the eyes of people like Harold McMillan who somehw survived four years of trench warfare, to lock us into European future. But since then the world has changed, and the change we have seen so far is as nothing to what will be happening in the next 25 to 50 years.
This is the time to quit the old world and join the new. Britain is respected and admired in Asia. We have a great past and a great potential future here. It is up to David Cameron to somehow unstitch the Conservative Party’s dalliance with Eurpeanisation, and set Britain free, Social Chapter sure, Fishing of course, but also free of all the high taxes, regulation, quangoisation, protectionism and tarrifs.
Either that or Britain will become a sad backwater, unable to find her true identity in the world. We will become as lost as Europuppet Gordon Brown is lost right now. Cameron’s destiny has to be to get us out, and reorientate to where the action in the world economy is located.
From BRITAIN IN ASIA PACIFIC WEBSITE – Whilst it is the accepted economic growth engine of the world it attracted only ~ 20 % of British overseas private investment in the period 2001-2004. It would be hoped that the proportion of British overseas investment will increase over the next few years to a level more reflective of the region’s power, and it’s position in the world economy.