October 14, 2013

Global Debt Clock

Why is everyone in the world living beyond their means? I do not know.

Was it Mahatma Gandhi who said 'there is enough to meet everyone's needs but not enough to meet everyone's greeds'? Also, often many famous well-known quotes are 'attributed' to various persons but they have really never actually said them.

Also, many quotes are 'mis-understood' intentionally or otherwise. For example, people like to claim that Einstein believed in God because he sometimes referred to 'nature' metaphorically using the word 'God.' Of course, in his detailed writings and correspondence, Einstein made it abundantly clear he did NOT in fact believe in God but well ...

Anyway, here's the alarming graphic about the "ever rising" global debt of nations from The Economist:







So, again, why is that so? Why is debt of most nations rising? It's because everyone is 'aspirational' to some extent in today's world. The millionaires in the U.S. want to become billionaires ... perhaps that is what was the undoing of Rajat Gupta.

People in third world nations such as India have more 'modest' expectations ... for millions upon millions of middle-class Indians, acquiring a small Suzuki car costing some 200,000 rupees (most small cars in India can be had for about $3,000 to $10,000) would be a 'life time achievement' and would ensue much 'celebration' not to mention the inevitable visit to a nearby Shiva temple or some such temple for the necessary 'approvals' from God .... a.k.a. 'blessings' ...

The consumer culture is what drives individual debt and must also explain the debts of nations.

Again, talking about the specific case of India and to take cars as a good indicator of the consumer culture in the present age, everyone from Jaguar to Lamborghini to Ferrari and Rolls Royce sells cars in India and there are millionaires and billionaires (though only a handful) in India who buy those multi-million rupee cars.

Mercedes, Audi, and BMW together sell probably about 30,000 cars per year. Altogether, Indians buy about 2 million cars per year. Perhaps some 80 to 90 percent of this total number of cars are in the sub-$10,000 price category. So Indians are not yet quite a 'car-nation' like America. To put India's car buying in perspective, I think it's worth listing the largest auto markets in the world. They are:


  1. China
  2. USA
  3. Japan
  4. Brazil
  5. Germany
  6. India
  7. France
  8. Russia
  9. UK
  10. Italy


Here's data about car sales in the first quarter of 2013 which shows China in the lead followed closely by USA and Europe.Then comes Japan with one-third the numbers for China. Fun to see that sales in the 'BRI' nations out of "BRIC" taken together are less than the sales in "C." That probably says something about the relative importance of the constituents of "BRIC."


Anyway, here's the The Economist article about global debt.

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