Thursday, March 27, 2008

Subreal to Hypereal

My man E.C. Hopkins tugged my sleeve last night about a NPR story on Moises Naim “Can the World Afford a Middle Class?”The interview is online at NPR. We introduced Moises Naim's thesis hereabouts on February 9th.

This morning, I was made aware that the Wall Street Journal saw fit on Monday to grudgingly make its readers aware of what's around that signpost just up ahead;
Today the old fears are back.

Although a Malthusian catastrophe is not at hand, the resource constraints foreseen by the Club of Rome are more evident today than at any time since the 1972 publication of the think tank's famous book, "The Limits of Growth." Steady increases in the prices for oil, wheat, copper and other commodities -- some of which have set record highs this month -- are signs of a lasting shift in demand as yet unmatched by rising supply.

As the world grows more populous -- the United Nations projects eight billion people by 2025, up from 6.6 billion today -- it also is growing more prosperous. The average person is consuming more food, water, metal and power. Growing numbers of China's 1.3 billion people and India's 1.1 billion are stepping up to the middle class, adopting the high-protein diets, gasoline-fueled transport and electric gadgets that developed nations enjoy.

The result is that demand for resources has soared. If supplies don't keep pace, prices are likely to climb further, economic growth in rich and poor nations alike could suffer, and some fear violent conflicts could ensue.
Given the market's dependence on psychology, I can understand their reticence to report reality, but in this case, the reality correction comes long after some painful market corrections with many more such shocking jolts yet to come.