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Economist

Schumpeter: Mammon?s new monarchs

January 3, 2013

INTELLIGENCE agencies seldom take a sunny view of the world. Yet the latest report from America?s National Intelligence Council (?Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds?) is rather cheerful. The council frets about threats ranging from cyber-sabotage to nuclear holocaust (in a brilliant piece of understatement it warns that ?Russia could become a very troublesome country?). But it argues that the most important trend in the coming decades will be the growth of the global middle class.Britain, where the industrial revolution began, took 150 years to double its income per head. America took 30. China and India have pulled off the same feat in a fraction of the time and on a larger scale. The result is an explosion in the number of people who can afford middle-class luxuries, such as a nice home and a good start for their children.The council is not alone in thinking that, despite the threat of bubbles and hard landings, the new middle class is the future. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) predicts that there will be nearly a billion middle-class Chinese and Indians?some 320m households?by 2020. McKinsey & Co, another consultancy, points out that...

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