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Last week I wrote a post talking about how to succeed in today’s world. I received a few emails asking me just what the “big picture” was so today I thought I’d take the time to talk about some of the growing trends that I see being a big influence in our future.
And I do mean OUR future. Whether you live in America, Japan, France, Germany, or Australia I believe that some of the changes coming our way will no longer be isolated incidents but ones that forever change the course of history.
And history is where I would like to begin this post.
First and foremost, throughout history countries time and time again destroy their own currency by borrowing beyond their means and then having to either raise taxes on their own citizens or debase their own currency which causes inflation which is pretty much another tax, albeit a silent one.
This is important to understand because this is in essence one of the big problems we face today – Greece and Italy are highlighting the news today but the sad truth is many first world nations are in the same predicament.
Just why does this happen?
Often politicians make financial decisions without having an understanding of just what effect their decisions will have in the long run.
Let’s say in an election Candidate A promises to rebuild the roads, build parks, and introduce social programs to benefit its citizens. Who wouldn’t like that? So they get elected.
Reforms are made and the people are happy.
Only one problem – where does the money come from to make such wonderful changes.
We, the citizens, assume that is because the government has money laying around to help their people. But as we are seeing today that many governments simply spent beyond their means by way of debt.
And this is the first big picture point I would like to make: Debt is out of control.
Debt itself is not bad but over-leveraging and overspending can land you in a heap of trouble if you make even the slightest mistake. Lehman Brothers, to name just one, made mistakes and it cost us dearly. Why us? Because not only did it affect many people’s stock portfolios which in turn affected their retirement funds but it affected every taxpayer as they were asked to bail out the banks.
Another issue to consider is that of demographics. The world is changing fast, we all know that but would it surprise you to know that just 100 years ago (1911) the world population was 1.6 billion. In 1974, we hit 4 billion. And today we just crossed over 7 billion people.
People need food, energy, water and have dreams and aspirations.
Which brings me to my second big picture point is: Competition is worldwide.
Just the other day I read that Honda and Toyota will be moving their manufacturing to China to compete as the cost of doing business in Japan prevents them from being competitive. People in developing nations such as Thailand and China are willing to work harder and for less money than their Western counterparts.
My father lost his job in England when many companies in England moved their bases overseas. That was 30 years ago. Not much has changed except that many years ago the level of efficiency differed greatly between the first world nations of the world and third world nations (today the term has changed to developing nations which accurately explains the difference).
I also heard that when a Japanese company recently held a job fair in China there were amazed at the number of skilled workers. As a result they had no choice but to hire more people than they expected.
The third big picture point is: English is essential.
Growing up I realized that English was a powerful tool because it was the one language that could be used almost everywhere. China with it’s 1.6 billion people and its ever growing economy could demand others to learn their language but instead they have made English a priority. So much so that within 10 years or so China will become the biggest English speaking country in the world.
You’ve got America, the UK, Australia, India that all use English so add China to that mix and you’ve got half the entire world using one language.
Maybe I’m biased having been an English teacher for 20 years but if you were to ask me the two most important skills moving forward this century I would say computers and English. Lacking these two skills will put you at a severe disadvantage.
The fourth big picture point is: Gold is money.
For 6000 years gold has been considered money. It is only in the past 100 years or so that we seem to have forgotten that. China and India haven’t forgotten and continue to invest in this so-called “relic”. Maybe they know something we don’t. Another point to consider is that if gold isn’t money then why hasn’t Germany, Italy or America sold any of their gold in the past 30 years?
Throughout history gold has periodically done a sort of accounting on the world’s money. With today’s numbers in the trillions, and possibly even quadrillions thanks to derivatives, will we see gold enter the fray again? I believe it’s very possible. To me, it’s more a question of when, rather than if.
The fifth big picture point is: Green is in.
With the ever growing concern of the destruction of the environment, going green continues to gain strength. With oil hitting $147 just two years ago (or was it three) people understand the need to look elsewhere for their energy as the population is growing. Solar energy, wind power, biotech are all in their infancy stages. Jobs will continue to grow in these areas and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few people become multi-billionaires from these industries.
What will happen? Only God knows. The best we can do is take an educated guess.
If I’m right we’re all in for one heck of a ride so buckle up.