Europe Is a Developing Economy

European Straights, 2019-10-16

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Problem statement(s)

  • Is there room for large European companies to thrive [pan-EU or even globally]?

  • Focus on regulations is really going in the wrong direction as it doesn’t help honest growth. (Note the political flavour here, don’t want to miss the libertarian pun)

Facts and opinions

  • Europe is once again a developing economy

  • Most Westerners don’t care what happens in China at all, and this is shortsighted

  • China is important to Europeans:

    Either accept the US vs China debacle and stay on the sidelines, or

    Make it three and lift Europe’s own weights (requires a big market).

  • China became huge not because it tried to copy the SV (as many countries are struggling to do).

  • The technological clocks were reset in the 1970s, and EU companies are lagging behind their Asian counterparts.

    Specifically when it comes to digitization (computers and networks)

  • [opinion] Proximity services are the agriculture of 2020+. I.e. couriers, anything gig and last-mile.

Only sustainable in cities with certain population density

Decreasing returns to scale

NIMBY when it comes to real estate, specifically – landowners pocketing the lion’s share of the output related to said real estate – may be detrimental to such sort of economics. [clearly it’s the first time I face this issue, so some further research is clearly due]

Techno-Utilitarian Approach [Kai-Fu Lee]

  • Sound regulations —> raise the bar for local champions, get better on many fronts and consolidate competitive advantage [MK: I still have doubts what the author meant, see below]

Collectively improve the service levels / ecological outcomes / etc?

Provide opportunities for meaningful M&A within the sector?

Studwell’s book “How Asia Works”

  • “Development involves getting the most out of the available workforce, even though if it’s relatively unskilled”.

Caveat: without advance training [i.e. do first, learn second]

  • Export discipline (government support ONLY of the businesses having a shot at global markets)

Preventing rent-seeking on the local markets [quite understandable, but questionable benefit]

Room for productivity gains: people move from proximity services —> value-added services with adequate training

  • Repressing finance – the state prevents the free movement of labour and capital, force those with capital in investment in the local economy.

Finance the infrastructures benefitting proximity services (affordance housing, transportation, urban logistics) and export-driven companies only with increasing returns to scale.

Renounce the higher returns from investing in foreign assets.

Renounce the foreign investments into local assets where all value is shifted into the multinational owner. [not all FDI falls under this criterion]

  • Local development can only be possible without leaning on the foreign capital

By now this should be obvious to anyone who’s not hooked on 20th century’s business books

Thinking points

  • If China could find its “other way” vs copying the Silicon Valley [albeit using the friendly help of CCP], is there the “third way” or the “fourth way” (for Russia)?

  • Simply put, is there anything in the Asian [put broadly] playbooks that could be reused by EU / Russia to become competitive against the global players at home and internationally?

  • How compatible are labour laws with “getting the most of the available workforce”?

  • Who will train the people to be useful for the “growth” world?

  • (we all know the answer) Will the politicians agree to shoot themselves in the foot to implement the measures above?