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Investing in the Rise of the New Spending Class

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Investing in the Rise of the New Spending Class

Investing in the Rise of the New Spending Class

It’s no secret that the world has been a little down on China.

The world’s most populous country has been the primary engine of economic growth for decades, but recently investor optimism around China has diminished significantly. With a sliding manufacturing sector and lower GDP growth, most mainstream pundits have shifted focus to whether the country will have a “soft” or a “hard” landing.

Ever the contrarian, investor and author Gianni Kovacevic is not one to buy into this Kool Aid.

In his new book “My Electrician Drives a Porsche?”, Kovacevic examines the fundamentals around China and other emerging markets to create perspective on the newest and fastest-growing generation of consumers. Using an allegorical conversation between a doctor and his Porsche-driving electrician, the impact and ripple effects of this new “spending class” are described, affecting everything from the economy to the environment.

We thought the book had some great statistics on emerging markets, and that the easy-to-follow conversation was an effective way at introducing the contrarian way of thinking. Further, the book also outlines an interesting track on how to invest in green energy specifically.

Key Themes

Today’s infographic pulls some of the themes from this book to show who makes up the new spending class, and why their inevitable rise will translate to a blossoming green energy sector. There is much more meat to the book and to avoid spoilers, we’ve left out Kovacevic’s ultimate investment conclusion.

However, here are some of the points that we thought were most compelling:

Millennials

Millennials get a lot of media coverage in the United States. There’s 87 million of them and they have already had a profound impact on the economy. That said, it is incredible to think that the same generation in China is nearly 5x as big with 415 million people. This cohort of millennials (16-35 years old) in China is larger than the entire working populations of the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe combined.

Millennials in China and other emerging markets are nothing like previous generations. For example, in China, millennials have already earned 107 million college degrees, while all other previous generations have combined for a grand total of only 14 million. Newly educated and aware of the modern world through technology, China’s millennials do not want to work in factories or fields.

Spending Class Potential

China’s spectacular growth isn’t coming to an end anytime soon. The country is in 74th place worldwide in GDP per capita with $8,280. This is compared to neighboring countries such as Japan and South Korea, which have amounts closer to $30,000 per capita.

Only 22% of the Chinese population has drivers licenses, yet the country is already the largest auto market in the world with close to 25 million cars sold per year. Imagine how many refrigerators, air conditioners, and other basic comfort products the spending class will be buying over the coming years as their disposable income rises.

Energy

The common denominator of these goods is that they all take significant amounts of raw materials and energy to manufacture. Most of these goods, such as refrigerators or air conditions, require great amounts of energy to constantly power as well.

Today, the average person in China uses less than 30% of the energy used each year by an American. As 400 million people buy these essential goods of human progress and comfort, the energy draw will rise rapidly. Where will this energy come from?

Certainly all power sources will be a part of this energy mix going forward, but China is leaning green the most. Air pollution is so bad in China that it is commonly referred to as the “Airpocalypse”. It’s estimated that pollution kills 4,000 people per day in China, and green energy will help combat this problem.

That’s why China is building 1,000 GW of green energy capacity between 2014 and 2030, which is the equivalent of 90% of the entire current U.S. energy grid.

Tesla Tour

To amplify the message of the book, Gianni Kovacevic is embarking on “The Realistic Environmentalist Tesla Tour” to 32 official cities in North America. This one-of-a-kind, zero emissions book tour will be facilitated by driving a Tesla Model S from Toronto to California. The objective is to enlighten millions of people by illustrating what makes green energy and human progress factually possible while debunking common myths from the validity of electric cars to the future of energy.

Here’s more on the Tesla Tour in his own words:

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China

A Timeline of U-Turns from the Chinese Market

It’s hard to ignore the massive economic opportunities available in the Chinese market, but it’s also notoriously difficult to succeed in.

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China’s economic surge is one of the biggest stories of the 21st century.

Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, and China’s swelling middle class has attracted the interest of Western companies.

As many American companies have discovered, doing business in China is far from straightforward. Recent history is littered with examples of companies that entered the Chinese market to great fanfare, only to retreat a few years later.

Calling Off The Offensive

Today’s infographic highlights 11 companies that ended up tapping the brakes on their ambitious forays on the other side of the Pacific.

Then, we take a look at the factors that influenced these strategic withdrawals.

Here are some high profile examples of corporate u-turns by American companies operating in the Chinese market:

Google

When Google China’s search engine was launched in 2006, the company had made the controversial decision to censor search results within the country. Google publicly displayed a disclaimer indicating that some results were removed, which created tensions with the Chinese government.

For a while, things seemed to be going well. Even though a domestic company, Baidu, had captured the majority of the Chinese search market, Google did have a respectable market share of about 30%.

Google China’s fortune took a turn for the worse in 2010 after a major hack – Operation Aurora – exposed user data as well as intellectual property. The hack, which originated from within China, was the last straw for Google’s executive team. After one last ditch effort to provide unfiltered search results within China, the company retreated beyond the firewall.

Amazon

Amazon was an early entrant into the Chinese market. In 2004, the company acquired Joyo – an online shopping site – which was eventually rebranded to Amazon China in 2011.

Amazon China achieved some early success hitting a market share of around 15%, but today, that market share has eroded to less than 1%. Facing nearly insurmountable competition from domestic e-commerce platforms like JD and Taobao, the company recently announced it would be exiting the Chinese market.

Uber

After arriving fashionably late for the ride-hailing party in 2014, it quickly became clear that Uber was facing an uphill battle against well-funded domestic rivals. After only two years, Uber elected to u-turn out of the Chinese market.

Though Uber’s tactical exit from China is often viewed as a failure, the company has earned upwards of $8B through its sale to competitor Didi Chuxing.

A Two-Way Street

Now that red-hot growth at home is beginning to taper off, a number of Chinese companies have begun their push into other markets around the world. Much like their American counterparts, brands pushing beyond China’s borders are seeing varied success in their expansion efforts.

One high-profile example is Huawei. The telecommunications giant has been making inroads in countries around the world – particularly in emerging markets – but has seen pushback and scrutiny in a number of developed economies. Huawei has become a lightning rod for growing concerns over government surveillance and China’s growing influence over the global communications network.

Already, Australia has blocked the company from participating in its 5G network, and in the United States, government agencies are banned from buying Huawei gear.

If negative sentiment continues to build, it remains to be seen whether Huawei and other Chinese companies will follow the playbook of American brands in China, and turn the car around.

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Chart of the Week

The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets in the Last 10 Years

This telling chart shows how national wealth markets have changed over the past decade, highlighting the biggest winners and losers.

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The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets

A lot can change in a decade.

Ten years ago, the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent the world’s financial markets into a tailspin, a catalyst for years of economic uncertainty.

At the same time, China’s robust GDP growth was reaching a fever pitch. The country was turning into a wealth creation machine, creating millions of newly-minted millionaires who would end up having a huge impact on wealth markets around the world.

The Ups and Downs of Wealth Markets (2008-2018)

Today’s graphic, using data from the Global Wealth Migration Review, looks at national wealth markets, and how they’ve changed since 2008.

Each wealth market is calculated from the sum of individual assets within the jurisdiction, accounting for the value of cash, property, equity, and business interests owned by people in the country. Just like other kinds of markets, wealth can grow or shrink over time.

Here are a few countries and regions that stand out in the report:

Developing Asian Economies
In terms of sheer wealth growth, nothing comes close to countries like China and India. The size of these markets, combined with rapid economic growth, have resulted in triple-digit gains over the last 10 years.

For the world’s two most populous countries, it’s a trend that is expected to continue into the next decade, despite the fact that many millionaire residents are migrating to different jurisdictions.

Mediterranean Malaise
European nations saw very little growth over the past decade, but the Mediterranean region was particularly hard-hit. In fact, eight of the 20 worst performing wealth markets over the last decade are located along the Mediterranean coast:

Rank (Out of 90)Country% Growth (2008-2018)
89🇬🇷 Greece-37%
87🇨🇾 Cyprus-21%
86🇮🇹 Italy-14%
85🇪🇸 Spain-13%
84🇹🇷 Turkey-11%
82🇪🇬 Egypt-10%
80🇫🇷 France-7%
76🇭🇷 Croatia-6%

European Bright Spots
There were some bright spots in Europe during this same time period. Malta, Ireland, and Monaco all achieved positive wealth growth at rates higher than 30% over the last 10 years.

Australia
While it’s expected to see rapidly-growing economies as prolific producers of wealth, it is much more surprising when mature markets perform so strongly. Singapore and New Zealand fall under that category, as does Australia, which was already a large, mature wealth market.

Australia recently surpassed both Canada and France to become the seventh largest wealth market in the world, and last year alone, over 12,000 millionaires migrated there.

Venezuela
The long-term economic slide of Venezuela has been well documented, and it comes as no surprise that the country saw extreme contraction of wealth over the last decade. Since war-torn countries are not included in the report, Venezuela ranked 90th, which is dead-last on a global basis.

Short Term, Long Term

In 2018, global wealth actually slumped by 5%, dropping from $215 trillion to $204 trillion.

All 90 countries tracked by the report experienced negative growth in wealth, as global stock and property markets dipped. Here’s a look at the wealth markets that were the hardest hit over the past year:

Wealth MarketWealth growth (2017 -2018)
🇻🇪 Venezuela-25%
🇹🇷 Turkey-23%
🇦🇷 Argentina-20%
🇵🇰 Pakistan-15%
🇦🇴 Angola-15%
🇺🇦 Ukraine-13%
🇫🇷 France-12%
🇷🇺 Russia-12%
🇮🇷 Iran-12%
🇶🇦 Qatar-12%

The future outlook is rosier. Global wealth is expected to rise by 43% over the next decade, reaching $291 trillion by 2028. If current trends play out as expected, Vietnam could likely top this list a decade from now with a staggering 200% growth rate.

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