This is the Asian Century: Seven reasons to be optimistic about it

This is the Asian Century: Seven reasons to be optimistic about it

This is not the first Asian century. According to the late economic historian Angus Maddison, Asia accounted for more than half of world economic output for 18 of the last 20 centuries. The region’s growing clout in the world economy is a “restoration,” not a revolution, he said.

It took the massive concentration of capital in the West, the result of the Industrial Revolution and colonialism, for Europe to usurp the center of economic power in the 19th century. And it took two world wars for the U.S. to supplant the latter. Today, however, Asia’s vast population — more than half the world’s inhabitants live there — is reaching economic predominance once again.

So, what might that look like? In the 18th and 19th centuries, when economic might began to swing in Europe’s favor, political and cultural influence followed. The same happened when the U.S. surged ahead in the 20th century: Political power and cultural influence followed economic production. Today, Asia is in the same position as the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century: an economic giant, but a political dwarf.