The latest issue of my favorite investment advisory newsletter, The Whitebox Market Observer, has a good point about industrializing countries:
It is nonsense to think that China as a whole will become rich because the Chinese individually are poor. The ugly truth is that poor people don’t matter. They don’t matter as consumers because they don’t have any money; they don’t matter as producers because once they start producing they do not stay poor for long. Show me a persistently poor factory worker and I will show you a rotten factory, no threat to the U.S. or anyone else.
and goes on to note the similarities with Japan of the 1960s and Taiwan and South Korea of the 1970s, which started competing with U.S. companies using low wages to make up for their mediocre reputation for quality, and within about two decades switched to competing on quality.