I have just come back from a two week holiday. As always getting a chance to recharge the batteries is welcome, but this time it felt even more refreshing as it was two weeks away from the Brexit noise.
It enabled me to read a number of books, one of which was the perfect antidote to what we have had to endure over the last two years. It is called “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling and I cannot recommend it highly enough. In it he deals with the misconceptions we have about the world and how it is progressing, and that these are not just ones that you and I may have but also amongst the “experts” that should know better.
Before going on, and without getting into Monty Python territory, I will ask you to cast your mind back to what life was like when you were children. Although I didn’t live “in a shoebox in the road” central heating was rare and double glazing was a dream as the ice on the inside of my metal framed bedroom window reminded me.
I remember visiting family and having to go to the toilet on the stairwell that was shared with the other tenants in the building and although they were getting rarer outside toilets were still to be found. Car ownership was low and disposable income was a term that had yet to be invented.
However at school I was taught that we were far advanced compared to other countries of the World that had no electricity, running water, decent housing, education or food. This I was told was the “Third World” and looking at the map it seemed to be everywhere bar Western Europe, North America and Japan.
The reason for this reminiscing on the “good” old days is to try and get you to think of how we have progressed from then. Warm and well insulated houses, en-suite bathrooms, multi-car families, more types of food than we could ever have imagined, holidays abroad and fifty seven different ways to drink coffee. It is quite staggering when you think of it.
Now, keep that thought in mind.
In his book Hans points out that with the exception of a few countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia, the vast bulk of countries that we still probably regard as poor are in reality where Britain and the West was in the 1950s in terms of how their population are living. So they have made their own progress which in effect mirrored the progress we in the West made between the 1900s and the 1950s. As they continue to develop, as we did since, it means that in the next fifty years or so their citizens will end up having similar living standards to the ones we have now.
What makes this so exciting is that in the West this journey related to approximately 250 million people, the coming wave will see increased prosperity and living standards for billions of people.
Now, of course as Hans points out you are not going hear about this in the news but doesn’t it give you a new perspective on the future? Smart companies have already identified this and are investing to ensure they are able to meet the demand for products and services that are inevitably going to come. It also means that any slowdown we experience in our Western economies will be compensated by the growth in the rest of the World.
The book also proved that most of future World trade will be centred around the Indian Ocean which to my mind puts Brexit in perspective, but perhaps I am still in holiday mode……