But this is more or less the accepted wisdom. What’s more interesting are the implications of this trend. First, says Citigroup, there will be a huge rise in investment demand in the region. The report says: “In real terms, using 2009 prices, US consumer spending rose by about $300 billion per year in 2004-07, but shrank in 2008 and 2009. On the same basis (real terms, 2009 prices), the annual growth in investment in non-Japan Asia was about $235 billion per year in 2004-07, but is likely to average about $460 billion per year in 2010-11 and $550-600 billion per year in 2012-14." In other words, investment demand in non-Japan Asia will take the place of US consumption as the driver of the world economy. That will mean massive demand for metals, engineering, power plants, infrastructure.

Graphics: Paras Jain / Mint

We can think of several other changes. Won’t the rise of the comparatively poorer population of India and China result in higher demand for basic consumption goods? Think TataNano instead of SUVs. Household debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is very low in both China and India, which again means big opportunities for financial services in these countries. But perhaps the most radical change that the report mentions is the constitution, in the future, of a new G-6—US, Europe, China, India, Russia and Brazil.

Unfortunately, such changes in economic power rarely play out according to the script. Nor are they free of friction. As sociologist Giovanni Arrighi has pointed out, “In all transitions, wars were essential ingredients in the change of guard at the commanding heights of world capitalism."

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