Tag Archives: Social Unrest

Will China’s slowing growth lead to unrest? | Ian Bremmer

Recently, it seems no developing country is safe from sudden, unexpected protests. In Brazil and Turkey, empowered middle classes pushed back against perceived governmental injustice; protests erupted, and leaders’ approval ratings dropped precipitously. In Egypt, the economic picture was as ugly as the political one, and the military’s ouster of President Mursi has fomented conflict and instability.

China may look like a candidate for the type of protests currently sweeping the developing world. Not only is a newly empowered middle class demanding better services and more accountability from government — growth has also tapered off in recent quarters. Don’t hold your breath. At least for the time being, China is well-positioned to navigate such challenges far better than its emerging market competitors.

Will China’s slowing growth lead to unrest? | Ian Bremmer

How Much Slowdown Can Beijing Tolerate? | The Diplomat

The question on the minds of most people is how much of a slowdown Chinese leaders can tolerate. Many people, including senior government officials in the West, seem to believe that Beijing will not allow its GDP growth per annum to fall below 8 percent (sometimes one also hears 7 percent as the magic number) because growth below that line is supposed to trigger social unrest. Typically, those who place a lot of faith in this number argue that unemployment will explode once growth stalls. For a government obsessed with domestic stability, that would be a nightmare.

While seemingly persuasive and plausible, the widespread notion that there is one magic growth number that will trigger panic in Beijing is simply a myth.

One reason to dismiss the purported connection between growth and unemployment-based social unrest is the divergence between growth and employment in the Chinese economy in recent years. Because of its investment-driven growth model, China’s economic expansion has been capital-intensive but labor-light. Modern power plants, steel mills, toll roads, and ports are expensive to build, but require a small number of workers to operate. As a result, each additional yuan invested in the Chinese economy is generating fewer jobs. This disconnect between investment-driven growth and job generation can be seen in these numbers. Between 2004 and 2009, Chinese investment in equipment and plants quadrupled, but the number of manufacturing jobs increased only by 15 percent.

How Much Slowdown Can Beijing Tolerate? | The Diplomat

If Chinese leaders are worried about the GDP slipping below 8% then that is what matters. What will they do? Will they employ a more aggressive foreign policy to compensate? I think they have already answered that question with a yes. Also, the decline in the economy is just one more problem added to a list of many problems for Chinese leaders to cope with.

The potential consequences of China’s economic slowdown

The initial thoughts of declinism among Chinese leaders provide an alternative explanation for China’s assertiveness. While optimists can simply wait for a better future, pessimists need to exploit the image of the rising China to their advantage. The prospect of decline creates an incentive for Chinese leaders to grab what they can while they can. Overconfidence certainly is dangerous in international relations, but a pessimistic Chinese leadership can be more threatening than an optimistic one.

It is not advantageous to admit that your nation’s power will decline, and so signs of declinism among Chinese leaders may be hard to detect. But the Chinese Communist Party has many reasons to worry about the future. China has been benefiting from its demographic structure, with a large working-age population and relatively small number of young and elderly dependents. China’s labor force, however, has already begun to shrink, a process that will accelerate from around 2020, leaving a large number of retirees.

The Chinese economy must also overcome the middle income trap, inefficiency of state-owned enterprises, corruption and environmental problems.

With all challenges the Chinese leaders will face, declinism in Beijing may palpably impact upon domestic and foreign policy sooner than present optimism dares to hint.

The potential consequences of China’s economic slowdown

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Will Europe Hit a Demographic Tipping Point? | Newgeography.com

So what exactly is in it for a young person in Greece, Italy, Spain, or apparently even France to stay home? Increasingly not a lot other than avoiding the difficulty involved in moving to another country far from home where the culture, language, etc. are different. That’s a daunting challenge to be sure, especially in a continent where people are very rooted, not just in their country, but often their town, though this can be reduced if they move to a former colony. But it appears we are seeing early signs of migration out of some European countries.

It’s way too early to say what this will turn into, but if an exodus of the youth does take hold, it isn’t hard to imagine how this could hit a catastrophic tipping point in some countries. Facing unemployment, unfunded pensions, massive debts, austerity, and social unrest – as well as the prospect of getting stuck as the bag holder for all this – it isn’t hard to imagine a flight for the exits among the young. This would be like a demographic Lehman Brothers. Once confidence is lost, there’s a run on the bank, or in this case, a run for the exit.

This is far from assured, of course. But it’s not an inconceivable outcome if things stay on the present course. Solving the nexus of issues around growth-euro-debt is critical for Europe, as is cracking the code on immigration. It seems unlikely birth rates will improve until these items are solved first. In the meantime, the US and Canada should be revisiting their own immigration laws to make sure they are poised to respond to – and benefit from – another wave of European economic refugees heads their direction.

Will Europe Hit a Demographic Tipping Point? | Newgeography.com

What Triggered the Russian Revolution of 1917?

It may look innocuous, but this tiny lead ball is thought to have triggered a rebellion that saw millions of Russians die and gave rise to the world’s first communist state.

When the ball of shot narrowly missed hitting Tsar Nicholas II after it was fired from a cannon in 1905 in St Petersburg, it is believed to have set in motion a chain of events that culminated in the Russian Revolution.

Russia was a country on the brink of mass political and social unrest at the time of the so-called assassination attempt on Tsar Nicholas II in St Petersburg in January 1905.

On January 22, days after Russia’s last emperor believed he had survived an attempt on his life, soldiers of the Imperial Guard shot unarmed striking workers as they made their way to the Winter Palace in a peaceful demonstration.

Up to 100 people died on what came to be known as Bloody Sunday, a day that would prove to have grave consequences for the Tsarist regime. It is widely regarded as one of the key events that sparked the eventual Russian Revolution of 1917, which led to the dismantling of the country’s Tsarist autocracy.

The series of rebellions saw Tsar Nicholas II forced to abdicate in February of that year, and ultimately paved the way for the creation of the USSR in 1922.

In October 1917 the Bolsheviks overthrew the shaky provisional government established after the abdication, and Nicholas and his family were eventually held in a prison in Yekaterinburg.

In July 1918, as anti-Bolsheviks approached the city, the family was executed. They are thought to have been killed on the orders of Bolshevik leader Lenin.

Lead shot fired at Tsar Nicholas II which triggered Russian Revolution may sell for £500,000 | Mail Online

It seems odd that one ball of shot could cause the Russian revolution. However, if the country was already in a precollapse state then it wouldn’t take much.

The Russian Revolution of 1917

The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Russian SFSR. The Emperor was forced to abdicate and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar; the older Julian calendar was in use in Russia at the time). In the second revolution, during October, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Bolshevik (Communist) government.

The February Revolution (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). In the chaos, members of the Imperial parliament or Duma assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution and Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, abdicated. The Soviets (workers’ councils), which were led by more radical socialist factions, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule, but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias. The February Revolution took place in the context of heavy military setbacks during the First World War (1914–18), which left much of the Russian army in a state of mutiny.

A period of dual power ensued, during which the Provisional Government held state power while the national network of Soviets, led by socialists, had the allegiance of the lower classes and the political left. During this chaotic period there were frequent mutinies, protests and many strikes. When the Provisional Government chose to continue fighting the war with Germany, the Bolsheviks and other socialist factions campaigned for stopping the conflict. The Bolsheviks turned workers militias under their control into the Red Guards (later the Red Army) over which they exerted substantial control.[1]

In the October Revolution (November in the Gregorian calendar), the Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin, and the workers’ Soviets, overthrew the Provisional Government in Petrograd. The Bolsheviks appointed themselves as leaders of various government ministries and seized control of the countryside, establishing the Cheka to quash dissent. To end Russia’s participation in the First World War, the Bolshevik leaders signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in March 1918.

Civil war erupted between the “Red” (Bolshevik), and “White” (anti-Bolshevik) factions, which was to continue for several years, with the Bolsheviks ultimately victorious. In this way, the Revolution paved the way for the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and St. Petersburg, there was also a visible movement in cities throughout the state, among national minorities throughout the empire and in the rural areas, where peasants took over and redistributed land.

The Russian Revolution of 1917

Using Math to Predict Social Unrest. Next Peak – 2020

Peter Turchin, a professor of ecology and mathematics at the University of Connecticut, is pioneering research in a field he calls cliodynamics. In short, cliodynamics uses mathematics to analyze social and cultural patterns throughout history. Turchin uses his research to chart violence and unrest, and believes he has identified a pattern of social upheaval that occurs roughly every 50 years in the U.S. The next peak, he says, is in 2020. Turchin’s research has been highlighted in an article in the August edition of the journal Nature.

“My research, in general, focuses on investigating long-term dynamics of historical societies (I call this cliodynamics, Clio being the muse of history),” Turchin wrote in a blog post for Freakonomics.com. “One empirical result from this program is that societies tend to experience recurrent waves of violence and political instability; these waves are themselves the results of long-term social and economic trends.”

[Original post on Aug. 8, 2012]

Cliodynamics Uses Math to Predict Mass Shootings, Social Unrest. Next Peak In 2020, Researcher Says – International Science Times

China in Revolution and War | Brookings Institution

Several serious problems in China could trigger a major crisis, potentially igniting either a domestic revolution or foreign war. Cheng Li wrote this memorandum to President Obama as part of Big Bets and Black Swans: A Presidential Briefing Book.

  • What challenges does the Chinese Communist Party face?
  • What does the Chinese Politburo need to do about these challenges?
  • How can the United States prevent any Asian states from engaging in the use of force?

Download Memorandum (pdf) | Download the Presidential Briefing Book (pdf)

 


 

TO: President Obama

FROM: Cheng Li

China poses a major policy challenge to the United States largely because of the unpredictable trajectory of both its domestic transformation and foreign relations. While there has been much attention paid to China’s rapid economic rise and growing international clout, two other scenarios have been overlooked: domestic revolution and foreign war. There are many serious problems in China that could trigger a major crisis, including slowing economic growth, widespread social unrest, rampant official corruption, vicious elite infighting, and heightened Chinese nationalism in the wake of escalated tensions over territorial disputes with Japan and some Southeast Asian countries. This suggests that your administration should not easily dismiss the possibility that revolution or war might occur. Either event would be very disruptive, severely impairing global economic development and regional security in the Asia-Pacific; a combination of the two would constitute one of the most complicated foreign policy problems of your second term.

Recommendation:

China in Revolution and War | Brookings Institution

CHART OF THE DAY: The Elements Of Social Unrest Loom Large Across Europe

In a note to clients today, Societe Generale’s cross-asset strategists warn that given the high rates of youth unemployment, euro-area governments still face very real threats to stability:

Social unrest still a concern…
Economic crisis in developed countries have reinforced unemployment, especially with the youth. In 2013 southern economies plagued with large unemployment will remain in a recession marked by a lack of consumer confidence and greater poverty. With lower population support, large upheavals could threaten government stability. Greek finance minister recently said that Athens still faces “the possible risk” of exiting the single currency if political unrest blocks reforms. Social unrest is also looming in many emerging markets, where income inequality has increased or remained high since the 1980s. Distribution inequalities and corruption are among the main concerns of the Chinese population according to recent surveys.

It seems likely that this has the potential to re-emerge as a big story on the eurozone front in 2013.

Unemployment And Youth Unemployment Rate – Business Insider

Could Europe’s Social Crisis Overshadow Its Economic Woes In 2013?: George Friedman | Economy Watch

For close to three years, the primary focus of European leaders has been to solve the region’s banking and sovereign debt crisis, which have caused a serious weakening of the economy and created massive unemployment in some countries. The same leaders however faces a larger problem in 2013: how to manage the social unrest across the continent as a direct consequence to the [mis]handling of the economic crisis.

Could Europe’s Social Crisis Overshadow Its Economic Woes In 2013?: George Friedman | Economy Watch

You Know How This Ends Right? This Ends Through War

In many of these situations the quantitative analysis is already done. It’s just a question of when will this unravel and how will it unravel, which I think is the key when we’re thinking about the chronology of events and the likelihood of events going forward.

Something that I think is really important to pay attention to, in the last 10 years debts around the world – this is total credit market debts, this is on balance sheets, sovereign obligations, corporate debt, household debt – has grown from $80 trillion to just over $200 trillion.

We sit today at the world’s largest peacetime accumulation of debt in world history…

…You know how this ends right?

This ends through war… 

…I don’t know who’s going to fight who, but I’m fairly certain in the next few years you will see wars erupt, and not just small ones…

You’re going to see more social unrest.

You saw HUGE riots in Greece, and you’re seeing HUGE riots in other parts of the world over food (and lack of food) and those are actually derivatives of the financial problems that we’re seeing. We’re exporting inflation to some other nations. Going forward it’s going to be a problem.

They’re not going to tell you [that a collapse is coming]. You’re going to have to see it for yourself. [During the Tequila crisis], the Mexican government affirmed they would not default, that they would not devalue, almost daily. The day after they said “we wont devalue,” they devalued by 60%.

The government’s never going to tell you that it’s going to happen.

Greece’s Yunker said recently, ‘When it becomes serious—you have to lie’. These guys are never going to tell you the truth, because they can’t tell you the truth. Their job is to promote confidence, not to tell you the truth.

Watch Kyle Bass:

Full Speech at the AmerCatalyst 2012 Conference (Approx 1 hour)

You Know How This Ends Right? This Ends Through War.

Kyle Bass’s Talk:

Why does it end through war?

Because of the instability caused by massive debt. The entire world will be affected either directly or indirectly. The US is now in decline because of excessive debt. Europe is in trouble. Japan is in trouble. China is in danger of revolution. So is Russia.

If the world is going to hell all around you, then it won’t be long before you get sucked in.

Transcript of Kyle’s talk:

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CHINA The princelings, descendants of the Party’s ‘Immortals’, are China’s new masters – Asia News

They own private companies and manage state corporations, with properties abroad or offshore. The descendants of the Party’s founders are China’s new ‘red aristocracy’ and have created one of the most unjust societies in the world with the gap between haves and have-nots reaching a danger level. At least 500 episodes of social unrest occur each day. Xi Jinping is urged to fight corruption and implement reforms; however, the study that reveals the princelings’ assets is blocked.

A study released by Bloomberg News yesterday, which includes a number of pieces and an interesting graph, maps the breadth and history of China’s ‘red aristocracy’, describing the assets of 103 individuals, all of whom are the direct descendants and spouses of the so-called ‘eight immortals’, i.e. Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yun, Yang Shangkun, Wang Zhen, Bo Yibo, Li Xiannian, Peng Zhen and Song Renqiong.

These eight are among the founders of the Communist Party who, following Mao Zedong’s death, tried to save the country from the economic disaster caused by Mao’s policies by opening it up to foreign investments.

At the same time, to prevent the party from losing power, their loyal descendants were chosen to run new state-owned conglomerates. By the 1990s, the latter began investing in real estate, steel and coal. Eventually, they diversified into rare earths and international finance.

CHINA The princelings, descendants of the Party’s ‘Immortals’, are China’s new masters – Asia News

Russia: The Prowling Bear Future, or The Russian Chess Master Future

I see two major trajectories ahead, expressed as the Prowling Bear Future and the Russian Chess Master Future.

The Prowling Bear Future will see Russia establish itself as an authoritarian and corrupt petro-state at the heart of Eurasia, increasingly destabilising vulnerable European economies with its belligerent monopoly of the oil and gas market on the continent. The Bear, caged for so long by the West, has been freed and is intent on finding ways to inflict revenge on its former captors. In this scenario, the tables are turned and the captive becomes the captor. The inferiority complex has become an inverted superiority complex. The rule of law has become the law of rulers.

In addition, power and growing wealth are not distributed to the wider population or invested in developing social institutions and infrastructure. Instead it remains in the hands of the key-holders of the Russian energy kingdom, the state, the energy corporations and the oligarchs who pander to those in power. Organised crime becomes interwoven into the power structures in a malicious synergy of monopolised wealth. The black market and the informal sectors mushroom. Governance of society becomes increasingly harsh and intimidating, with crackdowns on legions of tax-evaders and political dissidents.

Eventually, social unrest and conflict become widespread and endemic. The Chechnya conflict ignites all Muslim populations in the former USSR in a campaign to undermine the Russian state, employing energy terrorism as their main weapon. Rioting occurs periodically on the streets of Russia’s main cities. The Federation fights wars on multiple fronts as the struggle for control of 10 bn tons of oil and gas deposits in the arctic intensify. The country heads for a repeat of the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The Russian Chess Master Future

Russia’s Future – Grumpy Petro-Giant Armed-to-the-Teeth with Social Unrest – Transhumanity.net