I had the privelege of attending my cousin, Charles Dumas’, book launch last night. China and America: A Time of Reckoning was launched at a small city soiree where chilled champagne flowed and superior canapes never ended. It was an elegant and sophisticated affair and belied the prescient lesson that underlined the evening.
Over two years ago, Dumas predicted the ecomonic problems that we see coming to a head today. As Anthony Hilton says in today’s Evening Standard, “Charles Dumas…spelled out before even Ben Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve had seen the danger; the threat to the world economy that would be caused by the huge accumulation of dollars by China.” Now, Dumas is looking ahead to a not-so-rosy future and laying out what can be done to prevent getting there.
As far as I can tell, though, dollars and yuan alone do not paint an accurate picture of the power shifts at work.
Commenting to Charles that he now must know China pretty well, he replied with characteristic mathematic confidence: “There are 1.3 billion people in China. You meet 13 people and you’ve met 0.01% of one 10,000th of the entire population. If you meet 26, you’ve meet 0.02% of one 10,000th. How much does this make you know China? Pretty bloody little.”
As power accumulates in China, so the West’s grip on their own future slides cripplingly out of reach. It is not the money that’s the problem, it is what the holders of the purse-strings do with it. Make no mistake, the purse is sitting squarely in Beijing and 1.3 billion people are waiting for a tug on its strings.