I have been travelling too much and I’m determined to get a better grip on my diary. But as they always say, one of the great things about going away is coming back home. The weather is absolutely beautiful, warm and bright spring sunshine, which makes everyone feel cheerful and friendly. Doors and windows are open and people, including me, start to fiddle around in their gardens.

Japan and broken hearts

According to an FT reporter on 18 March, amidst the debris, people still greet each other with smiles and jokes. Asked how he could make jokes in these circumstances one elderly man said “We laugh with our faces and we cry with our hearts”.

Historical changes

US defence spending

In 2000 the US was responsible for one third of the global economy and one third of defence spending. Now they have a quarter of global GDP and 46% of defence spending according to Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. She commented that two decades ago US historian Paul Kennedy coined the phrase “imperial overstretch”, now it seems to be coming true.

US defence spending has nearly doubled since September 11, 2001. Obama is spending more on defence than Bush did. Many see the problem of the preference for military over diplomatic solutions as the takeover by the Military Industrial Complex feared by President Eisenhower. Former National Security Adviser Brzezinski has commented that the system is gridlocked, like a big ship where the captain can only change caused by a degree. The military say deep cuts would be calamitous yet the government is borrowing 40 cents in every dollar it spends. Steve Hadley a former national security adviser has said the problem is not spending in areas like defence, instead there is a need to control spending on social security and Medicare!

How many online?

According to the FT on 9 March, Joseph Nye said that one third of the world’s population is now on line. I found this to be very improbable until I met someone working at Google who said it includes people with mobile phones. So it is quite a number.

How many people over 65?

According to an HSBC advert at Heathrow airport two thirds of people who have ever reach the age of 65 are alive now! This will be the result of growing population and longer life expectancy. But it is still amazing.

African undergraduates

In 1984 there were 350,000 undergraduates in sub-Saharan Africa. By 2004 there were 4 million. There are 6 million now. Africa’s economic development has progressed well in the last decade or so but such a large growth in young educated people will bring transformation.


According to Martin Wolfe of the FT, China is now the world’s largest exporter and second largest importer. It has the world’s largest trade and current account surpluses and owns one third of world currency reserves.

According to Lex, FT 23/3 – 30 years ago 5000 cars were made in mainland China, last year it was 11 million.

Economic growth 1992 – 2010

UK GDP per head rose 36.5%, US 32.9, Canada 32, Germany 29.3, France 23.1, Japan 18.4, Italy 17.1. But as the crisis has shown such growth was unsustainable.

The most recent IMF figures suggest that by the end of 2012 the emerging economies will be 33% larger than they were at the start of 2007; developed economies are likely to have expanded only 3% during the period.


The cannibals met with the Europeans. The Europeans said how can you possibly kill people and eat them, it is absolutely disgusting. The cannibals said the reason is that we are hungry. The cannibals then said to the Europeans, how can you possibly keep killing so many people when you don’t want to eat them?

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