By Alejandro A. Tagliavini *
Someone once said that teachers are always better than learners. China and Evo, masters of statism, beat the «capitalists» apprentices of Maoism.
Chinese millionaires have never become so rich as during these quarantines, when some of the main tycoons of the Asian giant have reached up to quadruple their fortunes. Today, the red dragon has more billionaires than the US, it has 257 more than last year, according to Hurun (not counting Hong Kong and Macau).
The iconic Jack Ma, e-commerce pioneer with his Alibaba platform, remains the biggest fortune at $ 58.8 billion. It is followed by Pony Ma, the boss of Tencent, a digital giant that publishes the popular WeChat application, among others, with USD 57.4 billion.
China was the first country «affected by the new coronavirus» and claims to have practically eradicated the epidemic. True or not, with the same Maoist-rooted authoritarianism with which the Chinese government implemented the lockdowns, particularly lucrative for the internet giants, it now decided that they were no longer needed and ended them, and so China’s GDP increased by 4.9% year-on-year in the third quarter.
And Fitch Ratings predicts that the Chinese economy will grow by 2.7% in 2020 while the West insists with quarantines destroying its countries to the point that the world GDP would fall -4.4%, that of the US -4.6 % and that of the Eurozone -9.0%. It seems that Evo Morales was right in saying that «China won the third world war without firing a gun.»
The same Evo whose party, the MAS, and his dolphin, Luis Arce, professor of economics among other universities at Harvard and Columbia, won the elections in Bolivia. It is that, on the one hand, Arce was Evo’s economy minister who produced the «Bolivian miracle.»
Undoubtedly helped by the high price of raw materials such as gas and soybeans, but also because, beyond the discourse and the populist friends, he made a more tidy government than, for example, the disorderly Argentine president of that time who, on the contrary, it had friends and a pro-market discourse but did the opposite, a government, in fact, even more statist than Evo’s.
Between 2010 and 2018, the Bolivian economy supposedly grew annually above 4%. After Evo left, growth began its decline to 2.2% in 2019. And in 2020, due to the quarantines faced by unions friends of the MAS asking to go to work, Bolivia faces its worst economic year in decades. Various analysts estimate that the recession may cause a -5.9% drop in GDP in 2020.
To make it worse, since Morales left in a disorderly manner at the end of last year, the interim government promised elections as soon as possible. They were convened first for May, then in September and finally held a year later, arguing complications because the «coronavirus pandemic.» Thus, the strange thing would have been that the MAS did not win.
Anyway, let’s hope the situation does not get worse. After more than a decade, Australia will participate in naval military exercises, called “Malabar” during November, together with the US, Japan and India in a context of concerns about the militarization of the Asian giant and its growing influence in the region.
* Senior Advisor at The Cedar Portfolio and Member of the Advisory Council of the Center on Global Prosperity, de Oakland, California