Mar 7th 2009

Prediction: Asians win all Nobel Prizes

by Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson is a music critic with particular interest in piano. 

Johnson worked as a reporter and editor in New York, Moscow, Paris and London over his journalism career. He covered European technology for Business Week for five years, and served nine years as chief editor of International Management magazine and was chief editor of the French technology weekly 01 Informatique. He also spent four years as Moscow correspondent of The Associated Press. He is the author of five books.

Michael Johnson is based in Bordeaux. Besides English and French he is also fluent in Russian.

You can order Michael Johnson's most recent book, a bilingual book, French and English, with drawings by Johnson:

“Portraitures and caricatures:  Conductors, Pianist, Composers”

 here.

BORDEAUX - In a new best-selling book, French media consultant and author Alain Minc says he can see the day in the near future when all Nobel Prizes will go to Asian scientists and writers.

Imaging himself 11 years into the future, he writes: "All our habits and certainties exploded on that day in 2021. Suddenly the bell tolls in the Western educational establishment, and particularly the United States. The shock is terrible at Harvard, Berkeley, Oxford and Heidelberg."

Americans of the future quickly understand that this is no coincidence, and foresee that Asians are now positioned to dominate research and development indefinitely. "As for the Europeans" muses Minc, "they don't even feel this reaction, as if the confrontation with Asia had long since left them marginalized in the battle for knowledge."

Minc cites the rise of Asia as one of the trends that will overturn the global status quo. He takes this and nine other themes as starting points for essays examining how the world got to this stage. His book, "Dix jours qui ébranleront le monde" (Ten Days that Will Shake the World) was published this week in Paris by Grasset.

Minc's pedigree as a product of the elite Ecole Normale d'Administration (ENA) and a close adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy has given this slim collection of essays credibility and made it an instant sensation.

Of China's educational system, he notes that 15 million students are working for advanced degrees at 4,000 institutions, including several subsidized "private" institutions, "bearing witness to a new élitisme clearly in evidence". The government, he continues, " treats higher education the same as sports, keeping a single objective in mind: a maximum number of medals".

Minc cites India's past as a British colony, and its adoption of the English language, as conferring a great advantage over competing nations in Europe. And while he sees that the United States and Asia will collaborate, Europe's "marginalization will be even more obvious, and it will already be too late to do anything about it."

Japan, already confident of its excellence, will "do everything to avoid being equalled or beaten by the Chinese and Indians". And Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea "will continue their progression, stimulated by their constant flow of new talent".

The Minc scenario for this and other trends in the book is considered plausible because of real events leading up to each of his ten days.

Although concocting such lists is no great achievement (Minc says he could list a thousand events), he has chosen his top ten for their upheaval factor and their proximity to reality, often with dangerous implications. His essays are thoughtful and well-researched.

His other themes are:

-- Israel attacks Iran's nuclear installations

-- Google buys the New York Times for one dollar

-- Terrorists acquire a nuclear weapon and threaten London

-- China invades and takes back Taiwan

-- Scotland breaks off from the United Kingdom

-- Young white male professionals demonstrate for their rights

-- Gazprom makes a bid for Total, the leading French oil company

-- The U.S. dollar falls through the floor and hits $2.5 to the euro

-- French population exceeds that of Germany

Particularly chilling is his scenario for the disappearance of the New York Times. He imagines it happening like this:

It is March 25, 2013, and New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzburger Jr. has nowhere to go but Chapter 11 bankruptcy court, and tomorrow is his deadline. The phone rings. It is Eric Schmidt, Goggle chairman and CEO, with a proposition. He wants to buy the deeply indebted newspaper for one dollar. It just might work, Sulzburger thinks to himself. Google could at least save our name.

Giving this story impact is the fact that advertising and reading habits are rapidly shifting from the printed page to new forms of media on the internet, including Facts & Arts. Although Europe has not yet experienced the collapse of major titles, several dailies are struggling to adapt to the assault. Meanwhile, the U.S. newspaper market is reeling from a string of recent failures.

Minc imagines Sulzberger reasoning that a sell-off to Google for one dollar would be as humiliating as filing for bankruptcy, but at least the changes of saving the Times's identity would be better.

Google likes the idea, he goes on, because it offers a chance to rebrand Google News and thus "achieve a degree of credibility which, despite its power, it still is lacking", especially in Washington, where Google needs lobbying influence to expand its other businesses.

Following Sulzberger's acceptance of the Google offer, commentators conclude that the print version of the newspaper is living on a borrowed time, and may end up as a sort of dumbed-down New York Review of Books with reduced circulation and higher cover price. More ominously, the new owners would go for "different type of journalist, a philosophy of opposite from traditional press, and a revised set of professional ethics".

Six months after the acquisition, The New York Times is nothing more than a gigantic website that can claim only one success -- it quadruples the audience of the former Google News.

Minc enjoys a career as a French thinker in the world of business and the media.He has written a thought-provoking book that is part alarm bell and part a call to arms for Europeans. His technique of focusing on the climatic events, then backtracking to fill in the history, makes for a racy formula that focuses the mind effectively.


If you wish to comment on this article, you can do so on-line.

Should you wish to publish your own article on the Facts & Arts website, please contact us at info@factsandarts.com


Somewhat related, please watch Erich Schmidt, Google's CEO, at Morgan Stanley's technology conference on March 3, 2009:




 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Apr 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality."
Apr 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "New ways of thinking about the role of government are as important as new priorities. Many commentators have framed Biden’s infrastructure plan as a return to big government. But the package is spread over eight years, will raise public spending by only one percentage point of GDP, and is projected to pay for itself eventually. A boost in public investment in infrastructure, the green transition, and job creation is long overdue."
Apr 7th 2021
EXTRACT: " One can, and perhaps should, take the optimistic view that moral panics in the US blow over; reason will once again prevail. It could be that the Biden era will take the sting out of Trumpism, and the tolerance for which American intellectual life has often been admired will be reinvigorated. This might even happen while the noxious effects of American influence still rage in other countries. For the sake of America and the world, one can only hope it happens soon.  "
Mar 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "By refusing (despite having some good reasons) to end electoral gerrymandering, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has directly enabled the paralyzing hyper-partisanship that reached its nadir during Donald Trump’s presidency. By striking down all limits on corporate spending on political campaigns in the infamous 2010 Citizens United decision, he has helped to entrench dark money in US politics. And by gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, Roberts has facilitated the racist voter-suppression tactics now being pursued in many Republican-controlled states."
Mar 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "the UK’s tough choices accumulate, and the problems lurking around the corner look menacing. Britain will have to make the best of Brexit. But it will be a long, hard struggle, all the more so with an evasive fabulist in charge."
Mar 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "Over the years, the approach of most American policymakers toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been Israel-centric with near total disregard for the suffering endured by the Palestinian people. The architects of policy in successive US administrations have discussed the conflict as if the fate of only one party (Israel) really mattered. Israelis were treated as full human beings with hopes and fears, while Palestinians were reduced to a problem that needed to be solved so that Israelis could live in peace and security.  ..... It is not just that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t been viewed with an equal measure of concern. It’s worse than that. It appears that Palestinians were judged as less ​human than Israelis, and were, therefore, not entitled to make demands to have their rights recognized and protected."
Mar 8th 2021
EXTRACTS: "XThere’s a global shortage in semiconductors, and it’s becoming increasingly serious." ...... "The automotive sector has been worst affected by the drought, in an era where microchips now form the backbone of most cars. Ford is predicting a 20% slump in production and Tesla shut down its model 3 assembly line for two weeks. In the UK, Honda was forced to temporarily shut its plant as well." ..... " As much as 70% of the world’s semiconductors are manufactured by just two companies, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) and Samsung."
Mar 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Back in 1992, Lawrence H. Summers, then the chief economist at the World Bank, and I warned that pushing the US Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target down from 4% to 2% risked causing big problems. Not only was the 4% target not producing any discontent, but a 2% target would increase the risk of the Fed’s interest-rate policy hitting the zero lower bound. Our objections went unheeded. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan reduced the inflation target to 2%, and we have been paying for it ever since. I have long thought that many of our economic problems would go away if we could rejigger asset markets in such a way as to make a 5% federal funds rate consistent with full employment in the late stage of a business cycle."
Mar 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Under these conditions, the Fed is probably worried that markets will instantly crash if it takes away the punch bowl. And with the increase in public and private debt preventing the eventual monetary normalization, the likelihood of stagflation in the medium term – and a hard landing for asset markets and economies – continues to increase."
Mar 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Massive fiscal and monetary stimulus programs in the United States and other advanced economies are fueling a raging debate about whether higher inflation could be just around the corner. Ten-year US Treasury yields and mortgage rates are already climbing in anticipation that the US Federal Reserve – the de facto global central bank – will be forced to hike rates, potentially bursting asset-price bubbles around the world. But while markets are probably overstating short-term inflation risks for 2021, they do not yet fully appreciate the longer-term dangers."
Feb 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "To be sure, calls to “build back better” from the pandemic imply some awareness of the need for systemic change. But the transformation we need extends beyond constructing modern infrastructure or unlocking private investment in any one country. We need to re-orient – indeed, re-invent – global politics, so that countries can cooperate far more effectively in creating a better world."
Feb 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "So, notwithstanding the predictable release of pent-up demand for consumer durables, face-to-face services show clear evidence – in terms of both consumer demand and employment – of permanent scarring. Consequently, with the snapback of pent-up demand for durables nearing its point of exhaustion, the recovery of the post-pandemic US economy is likely to fall well short of vaccine development’s “warp speed.” "
Feb 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human rights abuses under Erdogan are beyond the pale of inhumanity and moral decadence. The list of Erdogan’s violations and cruelty is too long to numerate. The detention and horrifying torture of thousands of innocent people for months and at times for years, without being charged, is hard to fathom. Many prisoners are left languishing in dark cells, often in solitary confinement. The detention of tens of thousands of men and hundreds of women, many with their children, especially following the 2016 failed coup, has become common. It is calculated to inflict horrendous pain and suffering to bring the prisoners to the breaking point, so that they confess to crimes they have never committed."
Feb 20th 2021
Courtyard of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, circa 1670, (Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde).
Feb 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "Global regulators will no doubt be concerned about a potential volatility spillover from digital asset prices into traditional capital markets. They may not permit what could quickly amount to effective proxy approval by the back door for companies holding large proportions of a volatile asset on their balance sheets."
Feb 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Since Russians began protesting opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment, the security forces have apparently had carte blanche to arrest demonstrators – and they have done so by the thousands. If Russians so much as honk their car horns in solidarity with the protesters, they risk personal repercussions. The official response to the protests goes beyond the Kremlin’s past repression. It is war."
Feb 6th 2021
EXTRACT: ".......like Biden, Roosevelt was certainly no revolutionary. His task was to save American capitalism. He was a repairer, a fixer. The New Deal was achieved not because of Roosevelt’s genius or heroism, but because enough people trusted him to act in good faith. That is precisely what people are expecting from Biden, too. He must save US democracy from the ravages of a political crisis. To do so, he must reestablish trust in the system. He has promised to make his country less polarized, and to restore civility and truth to political discourse. In this endeavor, his lack of charisma may turn out to be his greatest strength. For all that he lacks in grandeur, he makes up for by exuding an air of decency."
Feb 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Europe must not lose sight of the long game, which inevitably will center on China, not Russia or relations with post-Brexit Britain. China is already establishing a presence in Iran, and demonstrating that it has the capital, know-how, and technology to project power and influence beyond its borders. Should it succeed in turning the Belt and Road Initiative into a line of geopolitical stepping-stones, it might soon emerge at Europe’s southeastern border in a form that no one in the EU foresaw."
Jan 29th 2021
EXTRACT: "One sign of this change is that, unlike all recent Democratic administrations, Biden’s hasn’t paid obeisance to Wall Street by giving bankers top jobs. The new Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, is a former Federal Reserve chair and academic who has made it clear that she understands the country’s pressing social needs. Moreover, Biden consulted Warren on her economic views, and has named a former Warren adviser as Yellen’s deputy. Yellen’s appointment demonstrates that Biden shares the insight that enabled Trump’s rise: that too many Americans feel that they cannot get a fair share. "
Jan 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "Barack Obama cautioned in his final speech as president that, “Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.” Yet isn’t that exactly what America has been doing? In a decade punctuated by the global financial crisis, the COVID-19 crisis, a racial-justice crisis, an inequality crisis, and now a political crisis, we have only paid lip service to lofty democratic ideals. ... Sadly, this complacency has come at a time of growing fragility for the American experiment. Internet-enabled connectivity is dangerously amplifying an increasingly polarized national discourse in an era of mounting social and political instability. The resulting vulnerability was brought into painfully sharp focus on January 6. The stewardship of democracy is at grave risk. "