Tag Archives: Asian Century

Ultra-Matum: Can the West Withstand Brigata Curva Sud-Style Globalisation?

Back in the more innocent days of the early 2000s, the person who would become Mediolana’s Creative Director & CSO (‘CD&CSO’) was enjoying a leisurely coffee (or at least a simulacrum of coffee) in a Cambridge Starbucks with a member of that relatively rare specimen: someone he knew from his own course. Much of the accompanying conversation is of historical interest only, but one explosive idea from that otherwise gentle discussion has stayed with our CD&CSO, namely the notion that just as Japan had successfully copied and then vastly improved upon mid-twentieth century Western industrialism, both Japan and Asian countries more generally could do this and more in the realm of cultural production.

In other words, the J.League – the top tier of Japan’s professional football pyramid, still a novelty but already viewed as wildly successful – was merely a harbinger of things to come. J.Movies, J.Novels and J.Design would all equal and then surpass their Western equivalents in terms of both technical and artistic merit; this was a process that was going to define the next hundred years.

In 2017, this process is not merely underway, but is attaining a depth and breadth that constantly surprises. As the excellent recent COPA90 mini-documentary These Asian Ultras Will Blow Your Mind illustrates, it is now the case that PSS Sleman, a second-tier football club in Indonesia – replete with its own ultras, the already-fabled and disproportionately female Brigata Curva Sud – can produce chants, choreography and devotion on a level that the more uncritically consumerist parts of Europe seem to have forgotten exist.

The big corollary of these developments is the burning, largely unspoken question of our times: can the Western world – particularly the United States – really handle multi-directional globalisation, a form of interaction which supplants the traditional core-periphery model with a more level playing field amongst partner-type entities?

At the time of writing, this question seems a rhetorical one. But erecting trade barriers at a time when – as richly evidenced by capital flows small and large – psychological barriers to commerce are coming down is not the answer of self-assured nations. Only by moving up the value chain can (semi-)monopolistic and lucrative positions be maintained. The alternative – decline at the hands of faster, hungrier competitors who can replicate cheaper than you can produce – is nothing but a prescription for more empty populism.


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Literally Hitler: World’s Cutest Country ‘Engulfed by #Nazi Tsunami’!

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Asian Century Latest: India Fills 0.60846% of International Student Quota!

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Flat(Pack)-Earthers Cross Final Frontier: #IKEA Enters #India!

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When the Chips Are Down: United States Loses Top Spot in World Supercomputer Ranking!

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Asian Century Latest: South Australia #Schools Introducing Mandarin #Curriculum!

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The Global Opportunity of a Lifetime? How to Benefit from the New Asian Bank Wars

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One of the least-noted yet most significant events this decade – possibly even this century thus far – was the 4th October 2014 launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (‘AIIB’) in Beijing, China. This new institution has US$100bn in capital and is a direct rival to the Asian Development Bank (‘ADB’), a venerable lender which has been active for almost fifty years; although the ADB is headquartered in Manila, it is very much a Japan-driven vehicle.

The inception of the AIIB has stimulated the ADB – total assets, US$116bn – to wade into a fresh round of action: on 4th July 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised US$6.1bn of additional aid as part of a move to augment Japanese and ADB funding for infrastructure projects by 25%; earlier this year, the ADB announced plans to increase annual operations by 50%. The indications are that the overwhelming majority of Asian countries will be happy to play off the ADB and the AIIB against each other: 42 states (there are 48 UN members in Asia) are affiliated to both banks.

After some contemplation, we at Mediolana believe that the New Asian Bank Wars could have the following effects which both individuals and companies worldwide can profit from:

  1. Job Creation. Given that both the ADB and that AIIB are principally infrastructure banks, it is realistic to assume that most of the loans they issue will actually go towards productive capital investments, rather than, say, propping up financial institutions with questionable balance sheet fundamentals. This means that an unprecedented demand for talented creatives in regions such as South-East Asia is on the cards, and entities should position themselves accordingly.
  2. New Markets. Funding projects such as subway lines in Jakarta will not merely have local effects on construction, transportation and retail: they will create a new mindset and new markets. Anyone looking to sell any product or service should be aware that while there will always be pronounced social and cultural differences – especially internationally – there are new audiences just waiting to be informed about you.
  3. Increasing Competition. The Asian Development Bank made education one of its five core operation areas in Strategy 2020, the long-term strategic framework of the Asian Development Bank for the 2008 to 2020 period. The AIIB is almost certain to follow the ADB’s lead in prioritising education, meaning that the pool of talented and trained people from which universities and employers can choose will continue to grow. Students everywhere need to prepare themselves for an era of intense competition.

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