In comparison with Barack Obama, who was well regarded in the foreign media, Donald Trump does not come off as a good guy. He is also clearly redefining the country’s identity and global focus. The first American president since the 1920s to walk away from a role as global pooh-bah, Trump instead defines his job as helping the people who elected him. read more »
For most of recent history, the world has worried about the curse of overpopulation. But in many countries, the problem may soon be too few people, and of those, too many old ones. In 1995 only one country, Italy, had more people over 65 than under 15; today there are 30 and by 2020 that number will hit 35. Demographers estimate that global population growth will end this century. read more »
The world has come a long way since 1929, when 80 percent of the world’s car registrations were in the United States, which also manufactured 90 percent of the vehicles. Now China produces the most cars and its annual sales rank top in the world. China overtook the United States in vehicle sales during the Great Recession. But it’s not like Americans are no longer buying cars; the US broke its own record last year. read more »
In every recent year, a black swan event has made top 10 lists appear quaintly naive and unimaginative. Our list is probably no better.
This time of year, top 10 predictions are all the rage. These lists can be interesting and entertaining but how useful are they really?
This question goes to the heart of forecasting. How futile or how useful is an attempt to forecast the economy, or technology, or world events for the next twelve months? There are three answers. read more »
Surprisingly, the modern focal point for postfamilial urbanism comes from eastern Asia, where family traditionally exercised a powerful, even dominant influence over society. The shift toward post-familialism arose first in Japan, the region’s most economically and technologically advanced country. As early as the 1990s sociologist Muriel Jolivet unearthed a trend of growing hostility toward motherhood in her book Japan: The Childless Society? –a trend that stemmed in part from male reluctance to take responsibility for raising children. read more »
One of the great pleasures of China is a walk along the Bund promenade.
Shanghai’s Bund is one of China’s great tourist and historic sites. Its history lessons are from two distinctively different periods. All of this can be witnessed from the raised promenade along the west bank of the Huang Pu River, which separates the old Puxi (west of the river) commercial core of Shanghai from the new, iconic business district that has grown up in Pudong (east of the river). It is clear that the promenade at the Bund is a very popular local tourist attraction as well. read more »
There is no better way to see China than by train. This is especially true because foreigners are not allowed to drive rental cars without first obtaining a Chinese drivers license. China has developed the world's largest high-speed rail system, which includes one of only three profitable routes in the world, along with Tokyo to Osaka and Paris to Lyon. read more »
Ordos, in China's Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia (equivalent to a province) has received international notoriety as a "ghost city." I had already visited one other ghost city and found the reports considerably exaggerated (The Zhengzhou New Area in Henan, a commercial and residential district). But Ordos has received by far the most publicity. read more »
The massive construction waste collapse last month in Shenzhen reflects a wider phenomenon: the waning of the megacity era. Shenzhen became a megacity (population over 10 million) faster than any other in history, epitomizing the massive movement of Chinese to cities over the past four decades. Now it appears more like a testament to extravagant delusion. read more »
When China’s navy looks beyond its coastal waters, which it increasingly does, it sees a kind of Great Wall. The Chinese call this the “First Island Chain,” a line of islands, some small, others huge, extending from the Japan archipelago to the north, the Ryuku island chain past Taiwan, and the Philippines to the south. The waters within this arc are considered an integral part of China itself. read more »