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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Why Is Thomas Friedman Afraid of Getting Lower Cost High Tech and Financial Services from India and China?

Why Is Thomas Friedman Afraid of Getting Lower Cost High Tech and Financial Services from India and China?

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 04:20

His latest column tells us that he had:

" a scary thought .... What if — for all the hype about China, India and globalization — they’re actually underhyped? What if these sleeping giants are just finishing a 20-year process of getting the basic technological and educational infrastructure in place to become innovation hubs and that we haven’t seen anything yet?"

It's difficult to know what in this story Friedman finds scary. The piece raises the prospect of these countries providing better and lower cost financial and technical services than those we currently receive from Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

It is not clear what Friedman's problem is with getting lower cost services. This is the way trade is supposed to benefit economies. Of course, those who work on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley will be hurt, just as steel and auto workers have been hurt by low-cost competition, but the vast majority of the country does not work on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley. 

If there is a point to Friedman's piece, it is very difficult to understand what it could be.


Comments (10)Add Comment
He's afraid he might be next
written by Billy O'Connor, November 03, 2010 5:18
What's to stop the U.S. from buy cheap fortune tellers from China?
written by anthrosciguy, November 03, 2010 6:45
I think he's just afraid that what he's been cheering about happening to people he does not know will start happening to people he does know.
Work at Home Now
written by izzatzo, November 03, 2010 8:32
In contrast to a socialist like Dean Baker, Friedman understands that capitalism works from the supply side, not just the demand side.

The 25 million unemployed in the USA must lower wages below the zero bound in order to compete internationally with those of superior productivity and lower prices.

The unemployed must spend to earn, as the work-at-home emails explain. Send money now and you can be rich with a job at home.

It's the only way to compete with advanced educational and technological innovation hubs in foreign countries. Price competition that's necessary to offset a deficiency in quality competition. Price your wages below zero. Get a job now and compete from the supply side like everyone else.

Stupid liberals.
written by dameocrat, November 03, 2010 8:42
Sarcasm doesn't work well on the internet. We can't see your face and the reader isn't always aware of the context.

Needless to say, he is upset because he always said we could compensate for job loss with innovation. If they are taking that too, then he was a fool which most of us that have paid attention to him for several years knew already.
written by Queen of Sheba, November 03, 2010 9:50
If Friedman wanted to sound prescient (and he ALWAYS wants to sound prescient), he might have mentioned what purchasing better and lower cost financial and technical services from China and India will do to the U.S. trade deficit. He might have succeeded in instilling even more fear of other cultures into our society (as if that were needed) - that is, if the people he is trying to reach understand the impact of the trade deficit on our economy.

However, most of the people who do understand our trade deficit's economic ramifications probably don't read Friedman's writings.
Can't speak for Friedman, but ...
written by Robert Baillie, November 03, 2010 9:51
I don't know why Friedman is afraid of low-cost tech services from China and India.

But I know why I'm afraid of them. Because tech services is how I make my living.
Is Friedman Afraid of Canada Too?
written by Paul, November 03, 2010 2:27
Canada supplies us with a lot of low cost lumber so I guess we should fear them too.
written by Jay, November 03, 2010 6:37
I guess he's trying to imply that globalization is not overrated and these countries will have tremendous growth that will reward speculators.
written by PeonInChief, November 03, 2010 6:44
anthrosciguy is right. There's a certain entertainment in watching the "move the jobs out" camp attempt the contortions to explain why workers in China/India/wherever can't do the jobs rich white workers do here.

And when did Friedman ever have to make a recognizable point? That's so 20th century.
This is about security and world domination
written by BT, November 04, 2010 4:57
Friedman is talking about world domination. The US does well as world dominator because it has (1) the most high tech military, (2) the biggest economy and (3) controls international finance.

Asia could easily overtake the US and Europe in all three.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.