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Daily Archives: December 29, 2020

China Set to be Largest Economy in 2028

Andrew Moddy wrote . . . . . . . . .

China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy in 2028, five years before previously forecast, and its economy will more than triple in size over the next 15 years, according to a new report.

The World Economic League Table 2021, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a London-based economic research consultancy, also predicts that China will become a high-income country by 2023, well within the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.

China’s successful handling of the pandemic compared with Western countries was one of the major factors in it moving up the rankings. In last year’s report, the size of its economy was predicted to exceed that of the US in 2033.

Douglas McWilliams, deputy chairman and founder of the CEBR, said the economic performance of China was one of the main features of this year’s report, which analyzed 193 countries.

‘”The big news in this forecast is the speed of growth of the Chinese economy,” he said.

“Other Asian economies are also shooting up the league table. One lesson for Western policymakers, who have performed relatively badly during the pandemic, is that they need to pay much more attention to what is happening in Asia rather than simply looking at each other.”

Asian economies are predicted to make major strides over the next 15 years, according to the report.

Indonesia is expected to rise from being the 15th largest economy in 2020 to the eighth in 2035. Over the same period, the Philippines is expected to rise from being the 32nd largest economy to being the 22nd; Bangladesh from 41st to 25th; and Malaysia from 40th to 28th. India, which has been badly hit by the pandemic, lost its slot as the fifth-largest economy in the league table to the United Kingdom and is not expected to reclaim that spot until 2024.

By 2035, three of the top five economies will be in Asia.

The report also highlights the brutal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy-not only killing an estimated 1.7 million people, but also wiping $6 trillion off the world economy’s output.

Kay Daniel Neufeld, the CEBR’s head of macroeconomics, said the pandemic has hit European countries particularly hard. Italy’s GDP is predicted to contract by 11 percent this year, Germany’s by 8 percent, and Spain’s by 8 percent.

“The pandemic has tested the political and economic fabric of European economies unlike anything seen during peacetime,” Neufeld said. “Governments of all political colors have subscribed to the need to prop up their economies with vast stimulus programs, even though many countries were still struggling to bring their debt levels under control following the global financial crisis.”

The report points to the importance of China’s domestic economy in driving growth forward and highlights the new “dual circulation “strategy, which President Xi Jinping first outlined in May. It aims to harness both domestic and external economic forces, with the domestic market as the mainstay and the domestic and foreign markets complementing each other.

The report predicts that China will grow 2 percent this year, 5.7 percent annually from 2021 to 2025, 4.5 percent annually from 2026 to 2030 and 3.9 percent from 2031 to 2035. By 2035 it will have an economy of $49.1 trillion, 35 percent bigger than the $36.2 trillion of the US. Its GDP will be more than three times its 2020 size of $14.8 trillion within 15 years at current prices. Using constant price measures, it will be 2.35 times bigger at $34.9 trillion, compared with $14.1 trillion in 2020.

The report said the economy was benefiting from measures to improve the ease of doing business, such as improved import declaration forms, greater ease in getting construction payments and strengthening creditors’ rights.

It also ranks among the most competitive in the world in the technology sector, with high scores in technology governance, innovation and ease of access to tech funding, according to the report.

McWilliams said one of the main factors driving China’s tech industry was the sheer scale of the domestic market.

“Scale is especially critical in tech. The US used to be the only country to have that and the European Union has tried to achieve with the Single Market, but with partial success,” he said.

The report also predicts the UK will be among the better-performing European economies despite Brexit. By 2035, its economy is forecast to be 23 percent bigger than France’s. It would also still be bigger if Scotland becomes independent from the UK.

McWilliams said one of the UK’s strengths is its robust tech sector, particularly digital, but it will be boosted by strong consumer spending once the pandemic ends.

“The UK consumer is notoriously spendthrift, and we have calculated there is £200 billion ($267.8 billion) of savings waiting to be spent,” he said.

The report also predicts the pandemic will result in a faster transition to a greener global economy. It said the past year has seen a dramatic decline in fossil fuel usage, and some governments have pushed forward the dates when sales of combustion-engine vehicles will be banned.

Pablo Shah, managing economist at the CEBR, said, “After the dust eventually settles on the COVID-19 pandemic, another defining feature of the 2020s will be the restructuring of economies towards greener production methods.

“While a political consensus on the need for intervention was already forming by the start of 2020, the pandemic will accelerate this transition, with green investments a cornerstone of many governments’ economic stimulus packages,” Shah added.

McWilliams, whose consultancy has been producing the annual report since 2009, said it is now clear how China and the rest of Asia were reshaping the global economy.

“One of my frustrations has been how the West has failed to understand how rapidly the Asian economies are catching up and overtaking their Western counterparts,” he said.

Source : China Daily

World Economic League Table 2021 . . . . .

China’s Antitrust Crackdown on Tech’s Giants Leads to Massive Losses

Source : Bloomberg

Video: A Sneak Peek of the New Film – The Beatles: Get Back

Acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson has released an exclusive sneak peek of his upcoming documentary “The Beatles: Get Back” for fans everywhere to enjoy. The 5-minute special look is available to fans worldwide on TheBeatles.com and streaming on Disney+.

Jackson said, “We wanted to give the fans of The Beatles all over the world a holiday treat, so we put together this five-minute sneak peek at our upcoming theatrical film ‘The Beatles: Get Back.’ We hope it will bring a smile to everyone’s faces and some much-needed joy at this difficult time.”

Acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson’s “The Beatles: Get Back” is a unique cinematic experience that takes audiences back in time to The Beatles’ intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history…

Watch video at You Tube (5:51 minutes) . . . .

The Insidious Attacks on Scientific Truth

Richard Dawkins wrote . . . . . . . . .

What is truth? You can speak of moral truths and aesthetic truths but I’m not concerned with those here, important as they may be. By truth I shall mean the kind of truth that a commission of inquiry or a jury trial is designed to establish. I hold the view that scientific truth is of this commonsense kind, although the methods of science may depart from common sense and its truths may even offend it.

Commissions of inquiry may fail, but we assume a truth lurking there even if we don’t have enough evidence. Juries sometimes get it wrong and falsehoods are often sincerely believed. Scientists too can make mistakes and publish erroneous conclusions. That’s all regrettable but not deeply sinister. What is profoundly troubling, however, is any wanton attack on truth itself: the value of truth, the very existence of truth. This is what concerns me here.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s O’Brien held that two plus two equals five if the Party decrees it so. The Ministry of Truth existed for the purpose of disseminating lies. In the past four years, the US government has moved in that direction. World-weary cynics sigh that all politicians lie: it goes with the territory. But normal politicians lie as a last resort and try to cover it up. Donald Trump is in a class of his own. For him, lying is not a last resort. It never occurs to him to do anything else. And far from covering up a lie, he can stick to it: his well-named ‘base’ will love him the more for it, and will believe the lie, however far-fetched and shamelessly self–serving. Fortunately Trump is too incompetent to fulfil Orwell’s nightmare, and anyway he is on the way out, albeit kicking and screaming and trying to pull the house down with him as he goes.

A more insidious threat to truth comes from certain schools of academic philosophy. There is no objective truth, they say, no natural reality, only social constructs. Extreme exponents attack logic and reason themselves, as tools of manipulation or ‘patriarchal’ weapons of domination. The philosopher and historian of science Noretta Koertge wrote this in Skeptical Inquirer magazine in 1995, and things haven’t got any better since:

Instead of exhorting young women to prepare for a variety of technical subjects by studying science, logic, and mathematics, Women’s Studies students are now being taught that logic is a tool of domination…the standard norms and methods of scientific inquiry are sexist because they are incompatible with ‘women’s ways of knowing’. The authors of the prize-winning book with this title report that the majority of the women they interviewed fell into the category of ‘subjective knowers’, characterised by a ‘passionate rejection of science and scientists’. These ‘subjectivist’ women see the methods of logic, analysis and abstraction as ‘alien territory belonging to men’ and ‘value intuition as a safer and more fruitful approach to truth’.

That way madness lies. As reported by Barbara Ehrenreich and Janet McIntosh in The Nation in 1997, the social psychologist Phoebe Ellsworth, at an interdisciplinary seminar, praised the virtues of the experimental method. Audience members protested that the experimental method was ‘the brainchild of white Victorian males’. Ellsworth acknowledged this, but pointed out that the experimental method had led to, for example, the discovery of DNA. This was greeted with disdain: ‘You believe in DNA?’

You can’t not ‘believe in DNA’. DNA is a fact. The DNA molecule is a double helix, a long spiral staircase with exactly four kinds of steps called nucleotides. The one–dimensional sequence of these four nucleotide ‘letters’ is the genetic code which specifies the nature of every animal, plant, fungus, bacterium and archaean. DNA sequences can be compared, letter for letter, between any creature and any other, much as one might compare folios of Hamlet. From this we can compute a numerical figure for the closeness of cousinship of any two creatures and hence, eventually, build up a complete family tree of all life.

For, whether we like it or not, it is a true fact that we are cousins of kangaroos, that we share an ancestor with starfish, and that we and the starfish and kangaroo share a more remote ancestor with jellyfish. The DNA code is a digital code, differing from computer codes only in being quaternary instead of binary. We know the precise details of the intermediate stages by which the code is read in our cells, and its four-letter alphabet translated, by molecular assembly-line machines called ribosomes, into a 20-letter alphabet of amino acids, the building blocks of protein chains and so of bodies.

If your philosophy dismisses all that as patriarchal domination, so much the worse for your philosophy. Perhaps you should stay away from doctors with their experimentally tested medicines, and go to a shaman or witch doctor instead. If you need to travel to a conference of like-minded philosophers, you’d better not go by air. Planes fly because a lot of scientifically trained mathematicians and engineers got their sums right. They did not use ‘intuitive ways of knowing’. Whether they happened to be white and male or sky-blue-pink and hermaphrodite is supremely, triumphantly irrelevant. Logic is logic is logic, no matter if the individual who wields it also happens to wield a penis. A mathematical proof reveals a definite truth, no matter whether the mathematician ‘identifies as’ female, male or hippopotamus. If you decide to fly to that conference, Newton’s laws and Bernoulli’s principle will see you safe. And no, Newton’s Principia is not a ‘rape manual’, as was ludicrously said by the noted feminist philosopher Sandra Harding. It is a supreme work of genius by one of Homo sapiens’s most sapient specimens — who also happened to be a not very nice man.

It is true that Newton’s laws are approximations which need modifying under extreme circumstances such as when objects travel at near the speed of light. Those philosophers of science who fixate on the case of Newton and Einstein love to say that scientific truths are only ever provisional approximations that have so far resisted falsification. But there are many scientific truths — we share an ancestor with baboons is one example — which are just plain true, in the same sense as ‘New Zealand lies south of the equator’ is not a provisional hypothesis, pending possible falsification.

The physics of the very small also goes beyond Newton. Quantum theory is too weird for most human brains to accommodate intuitively. Yet the accuracy with which its predictions are fulfilled is shattering and beyond all doubt. If I can’t get my head around the weirdness of a theory which is validated by such predictions, that’s just too bad. There’s no law that says truths about nature have to be comprehensible by the human brain. We have to live with the limitations of a brain that was built by Darwinian natural selection of hunter-gatherer ancestors on the African savanna, where medium-sized things like antelopes and potential mates moved at medium speeds. It’s actually remarkable that human brains — even if only a minority of them — are capable of doing modern physics at all. It is an open question whether there remain deep truths about the universe which human brains not only don’t yet understand but can never understand. I find that open question immensely exciting, whatever the answer to it may be.

Theologians love their ‘mysteries’, such as the ‘mystery of the Trinity’ (how can God be both three and one at the same time?) and the ‘mystery of transubstantiation’ (how can the contents of a chalice be simultaneously wine and blood?). When challenged to defend such stuff, they may retort that scientists too have their mysteries. Quantum theory is mysterious to the point of being downright perverse. What’s the difference? I’ll tell you the difference and it’s a big one. Quantum theory is validated by predictions fulfilled to so many decimal places that it’s been compared to predicting the width of North America to within one hairsbreadth. Theological theories make no predictions at all, let alone testable ones.

Of course, not all the sciences can boast the formidable accuracy of physics. We biologists stand in awe of the LIGO experiments in which gravitational waves, having travelled a billion light years, are detected by measurements accurate to less than a thousandth the width of a proton. Biological experimenters have to confront problems like the subjective bias of the experimenter — ‘intuitive ways of knowing’. Medical scientists have perfected safeguards aimed precisely against intuitive ways of knowing, because these are highly likely to mislead. The double blind control test has become the gold standard for demonstrating the efficacy of a medical treatment. A new drug must be compared with a placebo control and the comparison tested statistically. Neither the patients, nor the doctors running the tests, nor the nurses administering the doses, nor the analysts evaluating the results are allowed to know which patients were given the placebo, which the drug, until all the results are in.

I myself conducted a double blind test of dowsing (water divining). It was pathetically touching to witness the sincere distress of the professional dowsers when they failed — every single one of them — to perform above chance level. The poor things had never before been tested under double blind conditions: never before been deprived of whatever subliminal cues normally inform their ‘subjective ways of knowing’. I treasure the remark of a homeopathic doctor who, when his methods failed under double blind testing conditions, said: ‘You see. This is why we don’t do double blind tests any more. They never work!’

A layperson’s version of the pernicious philosophy I mentioned earlier is the familiar bleat of: ‘Well it may not be true for you but it is true for me.’ No, it’s either true or it isn’t. For both of us. As somebody once said (authorship multiply attributed), you are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts.

Some of what I have claimed here about scientific truth may come across as arrogant. So might my disparagement of certain schools of philosophy. Science really does know a lot about what is true, and we do have methods in place for finding out a lot more. We should not be reticent about that. But science is also humble. We may know what we know, but we also know what we don’t know. Scientists love not knowing because they can go to work on it. The history of science’s increasing knowledge, especially during the past four centuries, is a spectacular cascade of truths following one on the other. We may choose to call it a cumulative increase in the number of truths that we know. Or we can tip our hat to (a better class of) philosophers and talk of successive approximations towards yet-to-be-falsified provisional truths. Either way, science can properly claim to be the gold standard of truth.

Source : The Spectator