Two articles in today's Washington Post and the New York Times stood out for me as worthy of readers' attention.
The Washington Post article, "For Japan, a Long, Slow Slide," begins, "As the United States fret noisily about a recession, Japan is quietly enduring a far more fundamental economic slide, one that seems irreversible." That, about the economy that observers were predicting as late as the ending years of the 1980s would overtake the U.S. economy by 2000.
In 1994, Japan' share of the world's economy was a staggering 18 percent. By 2006, it had fallen to less than 10 percent.
What happened to the Japanese Miracle and why should we care, anyhow? As the cited article points out, the combination of Japan's aging population (the world's oldest) and population shrinkage caused by five decades of annual births insufficient in number to replace the population is translates into steadily declining consumer demand. We should be concerned about Japan's deteriorating economy because it presages a similar scenario for most of the world's developed nations that also are aging and facing population shrinkage.
While women in the U.S. like Japan and nearly all other developed nations are not having enough babies to replace the population and is also experiencing a boom in the aged population, immigration for all its current controversy in the 2008 elections will help keep the economy growing, even if at much less robust pace over the next decade than we've seen since the Great Depression.
In the weweks ahead, I will continue posting articles to the "Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times" thread that I've been weaving. There will be companies that will do quite well in the years ahead despite the end of the salad days for the U.S. economy. Most of these companies will have leapt ahead of their competitors in developing specific nontraditional business models and strategies better suited to the lean times ahead.
The New York Times article, "Wal-Mart: The New Washington,"
describes how Wal-Mart has embarked on a huge turnaround away from its
niggardly past when it used its buying power to mercilessly crush
anything and everything in its take-no-prisoners economic imperialism
that spun on for decades Now, Wal-Mart wants to use its unparalleled
economic power to make the world a better place. And it is doing that
by taking on big social issues as though it were a government,
according to New York Times columnist Michael Barabaro
Importantly, Wal-Mart's new leaf is not just a PR gambit. It is a new strategic approach to doing business that Bill Gates urged companies to take up at the Davos World Economic Forum two weeks ago. All of a sudden, it seems, hard-nosed capitalists are learning that new wealth creation opportunities in doing good while doing well are virtually limitless.
(To access the cited articles you will need to register with respective papers, but the articles are available for no cost.)