Crystal Ball - My Guess on Trends
www.BillHowell.ca




This is one of the great periods of all history – fantastic wealth generation, far superior opportunities for freedom and self-fulfillment all over the globe. The future holds tremendous promise! There are risks (debt levels in the Anglo countries, chronic deficits in the West, radicalism in some regions, etc), but in spite of comments below, I really think that this is a golden era. (Dec04, Xmas letter)

Globalisation of professions – the rising prominence of managers, technical thinkers (science, engineering, computer, other professions), and service industries from "emerging world" should really start to be seen soon. These areas are already highly visible in manufacturing and trade. But as an example, we need to be able to use their talents in areas like research, and management/ labour. The skills are there, and their cost is very competitive, and they will add tremendously to overall wealth in the world. (Dec04, Xmas letter)

For a few years now some of the economic/ financial commentators (the trustworthy ones – however much one can trust projections and forecasts) have been signalling a oncoming wave of globalization in professional services (everybody but lawyers) – India and China being good examples. It's something that strikes me as making sense, and in the long run it will be good for everybody, but there may be some bumps along the road, especially for the high cost, less competitive regions. Now the opportunities for an R&D lab are apparent – as we (here I refer to the Canadian government lab where I worked at the time) may collaborate with Indian scientists to do a project that may help the Canadian steel industry. Although its a bit of a long shot, there has been little hope of doing the project in Canada thus far. The project costs in India and the rapid growth of their steel industry make it much easier to envisage demonstrating the technology there. One recent comment in the financial papers is that high-tech venture capitalists in California are no much more interested in knowing how companies are able to take advantage of the Indian engineers and scientist, in order to be globally competitive. (Dec03, Xmas letter)

Fine-grained nuclear proliferation - in my opinion a potential trend in the not-too-distant-future may be towards "fine-grained" nuclear proliferation (strong leaders, individuals controlling nuclear arsenals), as opposed to the coarse-grained or national proliferation underway. This is especially a possibility following Sep01 when national leaders in "nuclear-hopeful" countries everywhere realised that the one nation that might actually do something about proliferation is not supported by the international community, and will have limited ability to engage other hot spots in the future (especially with much strong spheres of influence for China, Japan, Germany, and perhaps India). Admittedly a long shot, and probably not for another 20-40 years. Coarse-grained proliferation is really what I think the Iraq focus was/is about – oil and the rest are side-shows. (Dec04, Xmas letter)

Imploding US dollar and declining prominence of the "advanced" economies – the potential for this is moderate, and it may look bad from our perspective, and it may really hurt in the most affected industries and during times of rapid, chaotic or discontinuous change (Canadians will have to learn to be competitive and productive again, something we've forgotten in the last couple of generations), but in fact we're in no real danger, and the overall results will likely be fantastic for everyone. Furthermore, one strength of the Americans has been that in spite of the occasion blunder, their competitors are far more hamstrung by habit and their own politically correct thinking, whereas the US makes the tough decisions, and changes the way they do things. (Hopefully they will be able to do so in the future as well, butthe trend is ominous – especially when you look at the universities). Some of this "old forecast" has already been fulfilled by the US dollar declines over the last 3 years. (Dec04, Xmas letter)
.....We're about to witness an implosion in the gap between reality and perception on American economic, military, and political strength. (?date?)

Huge North American debt loads – I won't go into detail here... I just hope that I can buy a house cheaply in 2 to 4 years, rather than losing on housing as in the past. (When I buy, you sell, etc) (Dec04, Xmas letter)

Switch to "Global Currency Units" as a basis for international business and trade – my knowledgeable friends disagree with me on this, but I think even citizens would benefit (shelter from political manipulations of wealth without consent – \in developing nations and Canada). Gold, for exampe, already behaves in terms \ of GCUs, not $US – but most market commentators don't get it. (Dec04, Xmas letter)

Infant Day-Care - This seems to hold intriguing potential, politically-correct or not, and independent of the purported versus real drivers behind this trend. Big risks, too, with historical precedence in different forms. (Dec04, Xmas letter)
.....Look at the trend - from cradle to grave education, less and less of a role of biological parents. (?date?)


original 27Jan07