Grave dancers and Optimists

Niall Ferguson on Start the Week yesterday grave dancing about the demise of the US and Western Europe and the rise of Asia. All familiar stuff. I guess a historian’s job is to interpret rather than suggest solutions. But is Ferguson so popular with hedge funds and banks –  he’s a consultant at GLG – because he appeals to those whose lives and capital are completely mobile? They can easily modify their behavior based on what Ferguson and the other prophets of Western decline say. What is anyone else to do with this endless doom-mongering?

Fortunately I also read this wonderful piece in the NY Times about the rise of local manufacturing in certain American cities. It offers an interesting challenge to the obsession with scale growth companies and the rise of new mass markets in Asia. Could a very different force also be at work – a return to small companies which offer mass customization? We see great scale opportunities for pure tech plays, Twitter, Facebook etc. but also the rise of many more niche businesses which can take advantage of plummeting technology, manufacturing and marketing costs.

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