The shift of consumer markets from West to East has begun. Germany posted turbocharged growth last week on the back of exports to India and China. An Asian Development Bank report published on Thursday shows Asia’s consumer will be a force to reckon with.
Thanks to a rising middle class growing out of poverty, by 2030 Asia’s consumers will spend $32 trillion, comprising 43% of global consumption.
The shift will be tectonic. Strategic power could alter more rapidly. As could the kind of imbalances (the West consuming too much, the East too little) that fuelled the financial crisis.
But the nature of Asian societies could also alter. Technocratic, top-down and oligarchic, if not outright authoritarian, these societies aren’t used to a wide swathe of the middle class wielding power. If its purchasing power goes up, will middle-class political aspirations go up too? And how will that affect the Asian state’s cosy nexus with business?