Emerging economies will, according to a recent MasterCard report, soon contribute 12 times as much to world growth as the developed world does. That's not hard to imagine if growth rates in the BRIC nations continue at even half their recent rate whilst growth in the developed world grinds to a halt. How long this will take is unknown but with rapid globalisation and population growth it's a fair bet it will be quicker than most imagine.
Then it becomes a fight for resources and those countries that lack them are going to find it tough. Energy and food have for too long been taken for granted and squandered by the 'first world'. It's time to pay the piper and it's partly the reason I'm heading back to South Africa after 11 years in the UK. It's also partly along the lines of the 1st degree lecture in Freemasonry; "...and above all, by never losing sight of the allegiance due to the Sovereign of your native land, ever remembering that nature has implanted in your breast a sacred and indissoluble attachment towards that country whence you derived your birth and infant nurture."
If you were to pick a country to live based on resource availability for survival then I imagine a list might look something like this:
Water - Northern hemisphere generally OK except Middle East. Southern hemisphere a little stretched except parts of South America and Africa. However, effective solar powered desalination is only a few years away so no big issues on the water front.
Food - Cereal crops and meat are the big issues. North America generally OK. Most of Europe a little stretched. India and China quite stretched and getting worse as population grows. Australia and Indonesia quite stretched too. Africa north of South Africa is always stretched but Africa has always survived on less than her fair share. South America generally OK.
Energy & Minerals - This is the big one! The big producers are Russia, China, USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa whether it's coal, uranium, aluminium, iron ore etc. China and the US are also the biggest consumers and China is a net importer of fuel and minerals. There is going to be a fuel shortage in the world and Russia is going to be a king-maker in Europe. It's going to happen within 3 to 5 years and it's going to be ugly. I fear there will be some sort of conflict. I only hope and pray that we will find an alternative and abundant energy source and find it quick. I'm afraid that the wind and waves are ineffective for baseload power generation, no matter how many masts you stick up. I think the only solution is based on the sun and Europe is a little screwed in this area too.
Of course I'm not only going to South Africa for economic reasons alone but clearly you can tell I think it's going to be a fairly safe place to ride out the coming global economic storm. We've built our economy as a house of cards on the sand and no matter how much regulation we now introduce I'm afraid that gearing is not going away. The wind has started picking up and has knocked over a few of the cards but the tide has yet to come in.
I realise I run the risk of crime but with apologies to Theodore Roosevelt, I shall "...spend myself in a worthy cause and (at best) know the triumph of high achievement. At worst (if I fail) I shall at least fail while daring greatly, so that my place shall never be with those tired and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." I'll also make sure I get enough 2010 world cup tickets for whoever would like to come over. We can surf in the morning, chill out with a 'braai' on the beach for lunch and catch the game in the evening.
Wherever you choose to enjoy this life over the next 5 to 10 years I wish you the very best for your future, whatever it may be.