The Future is More Certain Than Usually Thought
• The worldwide financial balance of power is shifting from the U.S. and Europe to Asia as a result of the rapidly growing wealth of many Asian markets. Europe’s population is declining, getting older, and will be burdened by the cost of social programs without enough younger workers to finance them. North America’s population is growing, but its social programs will be growing, too. The social costs of Europe and North America will be paid for by the transfer of assets of retirees to younger Asian populaces. These workers will be able to invest their newfound wealth worldwide, and North America and Europe will be the best markets for their goods, creating stronger economic bonds.
This means that the U.S. economic influence will decline in relative terms. The U.S. will become the 21st century’s United Kingdom. The U.K. still has great influence, but it is no longer a prime driver of world economic trends. The U.S. will be feeling the same shift gradually, but discernibly, over the next 10 years.
• Traditional publishing is already becoming a niche market. Broadcast, hard copy, and Internet publishing are merging, becoming indistinguishable business entities. This is driven by consumers asserting control of how they receive information. Although there are some publications that are globally influential, such as “The Financial Times,” the “Wall Street Journal,” there will be truly global publications, not regional publications with a small number of subscribers outside their countries of origin. It will happen, and will happen online.
• Business communications today are largely electronic, especially when you consider e-mail. As the amount of information and the number of business transactions increases, there is a greater urgency to have immediate access to information.
One cannot look at these technological and demographic trends without wondering how print will survive. Digital printing surely has an edge, but even that technology is threatened by the same trends. Emerging markets will develop for electronic information distribution first. Many of these markets are only now experiencing free speech, advertising, increasing literacy rates and a measure of wealth that brings a level of ease to daily life. Their newspaper markets will grow, but versions of the U.S. “big metro dailies” or national newspapers common in many countries will not be forthcoming.