I like charity that provides leveraged impact. I like charity that is aimed at building long term improvement. I like entrepreneurship. I like people having work they enjoy and can be proud of. And I like people having enough money for necessities and some treats and luxuries.
I think sites like oDesk provide a potentially great way for people to lead productive and rewarding lives. They allow people far from rich countries to tap into the market demand in rich counties. They also allow people to have flexible work arrangements (if someone wants a part time job or to work from home that is fine).
These benefits are also true in the USA and other rich countries (even geography – there are many parts of the USA without great job markets, especially many rural areas). The biggest problem with rich country residents succeeding on something like oDesk is they need quite a bit more money than people from other countries to get by (especially in the USA with health care being so messed up). There are a great deal of very successful technology people on oDesk (and even just freelancing in other ways), but it is still a small group that is capable and lucky enough to pull in large paychecks (it isn’t only technology but that is the majority of high paying jobs I think on oDesk).
But in poor countries with still easily 2 billion and probably much more there is a huge supply of good workers. There is a demand for work to be done. oDesk does a decent job of matching these two but that process could use a great deal of improvement.
I think if I became mega rich one of the projects I would have would be to create an organization to help facilitate those interested in internet based jobs in poor countries to make a living. It takes hard work. Very good communication is one big key to success (I have repeatedly had problems with capable people just not really able to do what was expected in communications). I think a support structure to help with that and with project management would be very good. Also to help with building skills.
If I were in a different place financially (and I were good at marketing which I am not) I would think about creating a company to do this profitably. The hard part for someone in a rich country to do this is that either they have to take very little (basically do it as charity) or they have to take so much cash off the top that I think it makes it hard to build the business.
But building successful organizations that can grow and provide good jobs to those without many opportunities but who are willing to work is something I value. I did since I was a kid living in Nigeria (for a year). I didn’t see this solution then but the idea of economic well being and good jobs and a strong economy being the key driver to better lives has always been my vision.
This contrast to many that see giving cash and good to those in need as good charity. I realize sometimes that is what is needed – especially in emergencies. But the real powerful change comes from strong economy providing people the opportunity to have a great job.
Related: Commerce Takes More People Out of Poverty Than Aid – Investing in the Poorest of the Poor – I am a big fan of helping improve the economic lives of those in the world by harnessing appropriate technology and capitalism – A nonprofit in Queens taught people to write iPhone apps — and their incomes jumped from $15k to $72k
Looking at stock market capitalization by country gives some insight into how countries, and stocks, are doing. Looking at the total market capitalization by country doesn’t equate to the stock holdings by individuals in a country or the value of companies doing work in a specific country. Some countries (UK and Hong Kong, for example) have more capitalization based there than would be indicated by the size of their economy.
It is important to keep in mind the data is in current USA dollars, so big swings in exchange rates can have a big impact (and can cause swings to be exacerbated when they move in tandem with stock market movements – if for example the market declines by 15% and the currency declines by 10% against the US dollar those factors combine to move the result down).
As with so much recent economic data China’s performance here is remarkable. China grew from 1.8% of world capitalization in 2000 to 6.9% in 2012. And Hong Kong’s data is reported separately, as it normally is with global data sets. Adding Hong Kong to China’s totals would give 3.7% in 2000 with growth to to 8.9% in 2012 (Hong Kong stayed very stable – 1.9% in 2000, 2% in 2012). China alone (without HK) is very slightly ahead of Japan.
The first chart shows the largest 4 market capitalizations (2012: USA $18.6 trillion, China and Japan at $3.7 trillion and UK at $3 trillion). Obviously the dominance of the USA in this metric is quite impressive the next 7 countries added together don’t quite reach the USA’s stock market capitalization. I also including the data showing the global stock market capitalization divided by 3 (I just divide it by three to have the chart be more usable – it lets us see the overall global fluctuations but doesn’t cram all the other data in the lower third of the chart).
Canada is the 5th country by market capitalization (shown on the next chart) with $2 trillion. From 2000 to 2012 China’s market capitalization increased by $3.1 trillion. The USA increased by $3.6 trillion from a much larger starting point. China increased by 536% while the USA was up 23.5%. The world stock market capitalization increased 65% from 2000 to 2012.
The story of global manufacturing production continues to be China’s growth, which is the conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom however is not correct in the belief that the USA has failed. China shot past the USA, which dropped into 2nd place, but the USA still manufactures a great deal and has continually increased output (though very slowly in the last few years).
The story is pretty much the same as I have been writing for 8 years now. The biggest difference in that story is just that China actually finally moved into 1st place in 2010 and, maybe, the slowing of the USA growth in output (if that continues, I think the USA growth will improve). I said last year, that I expected China to build on the lead it finally took, and they did so. I expect that to continue, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see China’s momentum slow (especially a few more years out – it may not slow for 3 or 4 more years).
As before, the four leading nations for manufacturing production remain solidly ahead of all the rest. Korea and Italy had manufacturing output of $313 billion in 2011 and Brazil moved up to $308 are in 4-6 place. Those 3 countries together could be in 4th place (ahead of just Germany). Even adding Korea and Italy together the total is short of Germany by $103 in 2011). I would expect Korea and Brazil to grow manufacturing output substantially more than Italy in the next 5 years.
Building your saving is largely about not very sexy actions. The point where most people fail is just not saving. It isn’t really about learning some tricky secret.
You can find yourself with pile of money without saving; if you win the lottery or inherit a few million from your rich relative via some tax dodge scheme like generation skipping trusts or charitable remainder trusts.
But the rest of us just have to do a pretty simple thing: save money. Then, keep saving money and invest that money sensibly. The key is saving money. The next key is not taking foolish risks. Getting fantastic returns is exciting but is not likely and the focus should be on lowering risk until you have enough savings to take risks with a portion of the portfolio.
My favorite tips along these lines are:
- spend less than you make
- save some of every raise you get
- save 10-15% of income for retirement
- add to any retirement account with employer matching (where say they add $500 for every $1,000 you put into your 401(k)
Spending less than you make and building up your long term savings puts you in the strongest personal finance position. These things matter much more than making a huge salary or getting fantastic investing returns some year. Avoiding risky investments is wise, and sure making great returns helps a great deal, but really just saving and investing in a boring manner puts you in great shape in the long run. Many of those making huge salaries are in atrocious personal financial shape.
Another way you can boost savings is to do so when you pay off a monthly bill. So when I paid off my car loan I just kept saving the old payment. Then I was able to buy my new car with the cash I saved in advance when I was ready for a new car.
The largest manufacturing countries are China, USA, Japan and then Germany. These 4 are far in the lead, and very firmly in their positions. Only the USA and China are close, and the momentum of China is likely moving it quickly ahead – even with their current struggles.
The chart below shows manufacturing production by country as a percent of GDP of the 10 countries that manufacture the most. China has over 30% of the GDP from manufacturing, though the GDP share fell dramatically from 2005 and is solidly in the lead.
Nearly every country is decreasing the percentage of their economic output from manufacturing. Korea is the only exception, in this group. I would expect Korea to start following the general trend. Also China has reduced less than others, I expect China will also move toward the trend shown by the others (from 2005 to 2010 they certainly did).
For the 10 largest manufacturing countries in 2010, the overall manufacturing GDP percentage was 24.9% of GDP in 1980 and dropped to 17.7% in 2010. The point often missed by those looking at their country is most of these countries are growing manufacturing, they are just growing the rest of their economy more rapidly. It isn’t accurate to see this as a decline of manufacturing. It is manufacturing growing more slowly than (information technology, health care, etc.).
The manufacturing share of the USA economy dropped from 21% in 1980 to 18% in 1990, 15% in 2000 and 13% in 2010. Still, as previous posts show, the USA manufacturing output has grown substantially: over 300% since 1980, and 175% since 1990. The proportion of manufacturing output by the USA (for the top 10 manufacturers) has declined from 33% in 1980, 32% in 1990, 35% in 2000 to 26% in 2010. If you exclude China, the USA was 36% of the manufacturing output of these 10 countries in 1980 and 36% in 2010. China’s share grew from 7.5% to 27% during that period.
The United Kingdom has seen manufacturing fall all the way to 10% of GDP, manufacturing little more than they did 15 years ago. Japan is the only other country growing manufacturing so slowly (but Japan has one of the highest proportion of GDP from manufacturing – at 20%). Japan manufactures very well actually, the costs are very high and so they have challenges but they have continued to manufacture quite a bit, even if they are not growing output much.
I’m really too lazy for any ongoing budgeting. This is the model I have used: write down your big expense (rent, car payment, required student loan payment…). Get the total take home pay each month subtract your big expenses. If that is negative you better do something else (make more money, get rid of big expenses).
Big monthly expenses:
- Rent: $900
- Car payment + insurance: $300
- Cash (miscellaneous spending food, gas, cloths, books…): $450
- Utilities+ (heat, electricity, phone, internet…): $250
Take home pay: $2,800.
That leaves $900/month ($2,800 – $1,900). Decide how to allocate that – toward your IRA, saving to buy a house or take a vacation, eating out (above what was allocated above for cash), pay off debt (if you have it…), build up an emergency fund, save to buy a new MacBook Pro with Retina display…
If I decided to allocate $300 to my IRA (or increase my 401k) I would just set that up automatically each month. Then say I decided to put $400 toward other savings I would have that go to my savings account each month. And I decided I could use the $200 to pamper myself I just leave that in my checking account and what is in checking is what I have to spend.
I just don’t spend more than that. Just like when I was in college I had little spending money. I could spend that. I couldn’t spend any more, I didn’t have it. If I were to go over (I never did), but if I were to have (say my credit card bill exceeded my checking account balance), I would have had to reduce my cash the next month. I reality I would have something like $2,000 extra in the checking account so no bills would be a problem (and just view $2,000 as 0).
In 6 months see where things stand. Is it really working? Did you mess up and forget some expenses… If you need to adjust, do so. Re-examine every 6 months (or every year, if you are doing pretty well).
Take a portion of each raise (50% maybe) and devote it to personal finance goals (paying off debt, retirement savings, building up emergency fund, saving for big purcahse, investing, give more to charity…); don’t just use it to increase spending. Use no more than half (or whatever level you set) of the raise to increase your current spending.
The basics of retirement planning are not tricky. Save 10-15% of your income for about 40 years working career (likely over 15%, if you don’t have some pension or social security – with some pension around 10+% may be enough depending on lots of factors). That should get you in the ballpark of what you need to retire.
Of course the details are much much more complicated. But without understanding any of the details you can do what is the minimum you need to do – save 10% for retirement of all your income. See my retirement investing related posts for more details. Only if you actually understand all the details and have a good explanation for exactly why your financial situation allows less than 10% of income to be saved for retirement every year after age 25 should feel comfortable doing so.
There is value in the simple rules, when you know they are vast oversimplifications. I am amazed how many professionals don’t understand how oversimplified the rules of thumb are.
Here is one thing I see ignored nearly universally. I am sure some professions don’t but most do. If you have retirement assest such as a pension or social security (something that functions as an annuity, or an actually annuity) that is often a hugely important part of your retirement portfolio. Yet many don’t consider this when setting asset allocations in retirement. That is a mistake, in my opinion.
A reliable annuity is most like a bond (for asset allocation purposes). Lets look at an example for if you have $1,500 a month from a pension or social security and $500,000 in other financial assets. $1,500 * 12 gives $18,000 in annual income.
To get $18,000 in income from an bond/CD… yielding 3% you need $600,000. That means, at 3%, $600,000 yields $18,000 a year.
Ignoring this financial asset worth the equivalent of $600,000 when considering how to invest you $500,000 is a big mistake. Granted, I believe the advice is often too biased toward bonds in the first place (so reducing that allocation sounds good to me). To me it doesn’t make sense to invest that $500,000 the same way as someone else that didn’t have that $18,000 annuity is a mistake.
I also don’t think it makes sense to just say well I have $1,100,000 and I want to be %50 in bonds and 50% in stocks so I have “$600,000 in bonds now” (not really after all…) so the $500,000 should all be in stocks. Ignoring the annuity value is a mistake but I don’t think it is as simple as just treating it as though it were the equivalent amount actually invested.
Just 6.4% of nondurable goods — things like food, clothing and toys — purchased in the U.S. are made in China; 76.2% are made in America. For durable goods — things like cars and furniture — 12% are made in China; 66.6% are made in America.
Those numbers are significantly less than I expected but the concept matches my understanding – that we greatly underestimate the purchasing of USA goods and services.
We have an inflated notion of how large the China macro economic numbers are for the USA (both debt and manufacturing exports to us). The China growth in both is still amazingly large: we just overestimate the totals today. We also forget that 25 years ago both numbers (imports from China and USA government debt owned by China) were close to 0.
We also greatly underestimate how much manufacturing the USA does, as I have been writing about for years. In fact, until 2010, the USA manufactured more than China.
Who owns the rest? The largest holder of U.S. debt is the federal government itself. Various government trust funds like the Social Security trust fund own about $4.4 trillion worth of Treasury securities. The Federal Reserve owns another $1.6 trillion.
Ok, this figure is a bit misleading. But even if you thrown out the accounting games 1.13/8.9 = 12.7%. That is a great deal. But it isn’t a majority of the debt or anything remotely close. Other foreign investors own $3.5 trillion trillion in federal debt (Japan $1 trillion, UK $500 billion). The $4.6 trillion of federal debt owned by foreigners is a huge problem. With investors getting paid so little for that debt though it isn’t one now. But it is a huge potential problem. If interest reates increase it will be a huge transfer of wealth from the USA to others.
The oil figure is a bit less meaningful, I think. Oil import are hugely fungible. The USA cutting back Middle East imports and pushing up imports from Canada, Mexico, Nigeria… doesn’t change the importance of Middle East oil to the USA in reality (the data might seem to suggest that but it is misleading due to the fungible nature of oil trading). Whether we get it directly from the Middle East or not our demand (and imports) creates more demand for Middle East oil. It is true the USA has greatly increased domestic production recently (and actually decreased the use of oil in 2009). So while I believe the data on Middle East oil I think that it is a bit misleading. If we had 0 direct imports from there we would still be greatly dependent on Middle East oil (because if France and China and India… were not getting their oil there they would buy it where we buy ours… Still the USA uses far more oil than any other country and is extremely dependent on imports. Several other countries are also extremely dependent on oil imports, including the next two top oil consuming countries: China, Japan.
Related: Oil Production by Country 1999-2009 – Government Debt as Percentage of GDP 1990-2009: USA, Japan, Germany, China… – Manufacturing Output as a Percent of GDP by Country – The Relative Economic Position of the USA is Likely to Decline
Chart of manufacturing production by the top 10 manufacturing countries (2000 to 2010). The chart was created by the Curious Cat Economics Blog. You may use the chart with attribution. All data is shown in 2010 USD (United States Dollar).
In my last post I looked at the output of the top 10 manufacturing countries with a focus on 1980 to 2010. Here I take a closer look at the last 10 years.
In 2010, China took the lead as the world’s leading manufacturing country from the USA. In 1995 the USA was actually very close to losing the lead to Japan (though you wouldn’t think it looking at the recent data). I believe China will be different, I believe China is going to build on their lead. As I discussed in the last post the data doesn’t support any decline in Chinese manufacturing (or significant moves away from China toward other South-East Asian countries). Indonesia has grown quickly (and have the most manufacturing production, of those discussed), but their total manufacturing output is less than China grew by per year for the last 5 years.
The four largest countries are pretty solidly in their positions now: the order will likely be China, USA, Japan, Germany for 10 years (or longer): though I could always be surprised. In the last decade China relentlessly moved past the other 3, to move from 4th to 1st. Other than that though, those 3 only strengthened their position against their nearest competitors. Brazil, Korea or India would need to increase production quite rapidly to catch Germany sooner. After the first 4 though the situation is very fluid.
Chart of manufacturing production by the leading manufacturing countries (2000 to 2010). The top 4 countries are left off to look more closely at history of the next group. The chart was created by the Curious Cat Economics Blog based on UN data. You may use the chart with attribution.
Removing the top 4 to take a close look at the data on the other largest manufacturing countries we see that there are many countries bunched together. It is still hard to see, but if you look closely, you can make out that some countries are growing well, for example: Brazil, India and Indonesia. Other countries (most in Europe, as well as Mexico) did not fare well in the last decade.
The UK had a particularly bad decade, moving from first place in this group (5th in the world) to 5th in this group and likely to be passed by India in 2011. Europe has 4 countries in this list (if you exclude Russia) and they do not appear likely to do particularly well in the next decade, in my opinion. I would certainly expect Brazil, India, Korea and Indonesia to out produce Italy, France, UK and Spain in 2020. In 2010 the total was $976 billion by the European 4 to $961 billion by the non-European 4. In 2000 it was $718 billion for the European 4 to $343 billion (remember all the data is in 2010 USD).
China has finally actually taken the lead as the largest manufacturer in the world. Reading many news sources and blogs you may have thought the USA lost the lead a couple of decades ago, but you would be wrong. In 1995 it looked like Japan was poised to take the lead in manufacturing production, but they have slumped since then (still they are solidly the 3rd biggest manufacturer). China has been growing manufacturing output enormously for 20 years, and they have now taken the lead from the USA.
As I have been saying for years the biggest economic story about manufacturing is the dramatic and long term increase of productive capacity in China. The next is the continuing global decline in manufacturing employment: increased productivity has seen production rise year after year and employment fall. What is the next most interesting stories is debatable: I would say the continuing failure to appreciate the continuing strong manufacturing production increases by the USA. Another candidate is the the decline in Japan. Another is the increase in several other counties: Korea, Brazil, India, Indonesia…
Looking more closely at some of the long term data shows how much China stands out. From 1980 to 2010 China increased output 1345%. The total top 10 group increased output 302% (all data is in current USD so inflation accounts for most of the gain, 100 1980-USD equal 280 2010-USD). From 1995 to 2010 China increased output 543%. The group increased 64%. For 1980-2010, the results for the other 3 largest manufacturing countries are: USA up 218%, Japan up 261% and Germany up 148% (other countries doing very well are Korea up 1893% and India up 737%). Looking at the last half of that period, from 1995-2010 the: USA up 44%, Japan down 11% and Germany up 19%.
One thing to remember about adjusting manufacturing data for inflation is that often the products created in later years are superior and cost less. So that a computer manufactured in 1990 which added $5,000 to the manufacturing total is far inferior to one in 2010 that added just $1,000. This point is mainly to say that while the increase in manufacturing in real (not inflated dollars) is not as high as it might seem the real value of manufacturing good did likely increase a great deal. But the economic data is based on price so manufacturing increases are reduced by cost decreases. Computers are the most obvious example, but it is also true with many other manufactured goods.
You can that the other largest manufacturing countries fail to keep up with the increases of the entire group of the top 10. China’s gains are just too large for others to match. If you remove China’s results (just to compare how the non-China countries are doing) from 1980-2010 the increase was 216% (so compared to the other 9 top manufacturers over this period the USA was even and Japan better than the average and Germany was worse). And from 1995-2010 the top 9 group (top 10, less China) increased just 28%: so the USA beat while Japan and Germany did worse than the other 9 as a group.