four major transformations, global
brieifng, herbert meyer, ceo, international
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A White Man's Journey Into Black History
~ by Herbert Meyer ~
the World is going On?
Briefing for CEOs
Currently, there are four major transformations that are shaping
political, economic and world events. These transformations have
profound implications for American business leaders and owners,
our culture and on our way of life.
1. The Situation in
(implications of the four transformations in
second half below)
There are three major monotheistic religions
in the world: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In the 16th
century, Judaism and Christianity reconciled with the modern
world. The rabbis, priests and scholars found a way to settle up
and pave the way forward. Religion remained at the center of life,
church and state became separate. Rule of law, idea of economic
liberty, individual rights, human rights -- all these are defining
points of modern Western civilization.
These concepts started with the Greeks but didn't
take off until the 15th and 16th century when Judaism and Christianity found a
way to reconcile with the modern world. When that happened, it unleashed the
scientific revolution and the greatest outpouring of art, literature and music
the world has ever known.
which developed in the 7th century, counts millions of Moslems around the
world who are normal people. However, there is a radical streak within
When the radicals are in charge, Islam attacks Western
civilization. Islam first attacked Western civilization in the 7th
century, and later in the 16th and 17th centuries. By 1683, the
Moslems (Turks from the Ottoman Empire) were literally at the
Vienna. It was in
Vienna that the
climatic battle between Islam and Western civilization took place. The West
won and went forward (
learn more ). Islam lost and went backward.
Interestingly, the date of that battle was September 11. Since
then, Islam has not found a way to reconcile with the modern
Today, terrorism is the third attack on Western civilization by
radical Islam. To deal with terrorism, the
doing two things. First, units of our armed forces are in 30
countries around the world hunting down terrorist groups and
dealing with them. This gets very little publicity. Second we are
taking military action in
These actions are covered relentlessly by the media. People can
argue about whether the war in
right or wrong. However, the underlying strategy behind the war is
to use our military to remove the radicals from power and give the
moderates a chance. Our hope is that, over time, the moderates
will find a way to bring Islam forward into the 21st century.
That's what our involvement in
is all about.
The lesson of 9/11 is that we live in a world where a small number
of people can kill a large number of people very quickly. They can
use airplanes, bombs, anthrax, chemical weapons or dirty bombs.
Even with a first-rate intelligence service (which the
not have), you can't stop every attack. That means our tolerance
for political horseplay has dropped to zero. No longer will we
play games with terrorists or weapons of mass destructions.
Most of the instability and horseplay is coming from the
Middle East. That's why we have
thought that if we could knock out the radicals and give the
moderates a chance to hold power, they might find a way to
reconcile Islam with the modern world. So when looking at
important to look for any signs that they are modernizing. For
example, women being brought into the work force and colleges in
is good. The Iraqis stumbling toward a constitution is good.
People can argue about what the
doing and how we're doing it, but anything that suggests Islam is
finding its way forward is good.
2. The Emergence of
In the last 20 years,
moved 250 million people from the farms and villages into the
cities. Their plan is to move another 300 million in the next 20
years. When you put that many people into the cities, you have to
find work for them. That's why
addicted to manufacturing; they have to put all the relocated
people to work. When we decide to manufacture something in the
based on market needs and the opportunity to make a profit. In
make the decision because they want the jobs, which is a very
addicted to manufacturing, Americans are addicted to low prices.
As a result, a unique kind of economic codependency has developed
between the two countries. If we ever stop buying from
will explode politically. If
selling to us, our economy will take a huge hit because prices
will jump. We are subsidizing their economic development; they are
subsidizing our economic growth.
Because of their huge growth in manufacturing,
hungry for raw materials, which drives prices up worldwide.
also thirsty for oil, which is one reason oil is now over $100 a
barrel. By 2020,
produce more cars than the U.S. China is also buying its way into
the oil infrastructure around the world. They are doing it in the
open market and paying fair market prices, but millions of barrels
of oil that would have gone to the
U.S. are now
quest to assure it has the oil it needs to fuel its economy is a
major factor in world politics and economics.
We have our Navy fleets protecting the sea lines, specifically the
ability to get the tankers through. It won't be long before the
Chinese have an aircraft carrier sitting in the
Persian Gulf as well. The
question is, will their aircraft carrier be pointing in the same
direction as ours or against us?
Shifting Demographics of Western Civilization
Most countries in the Western world have stopped breeding. For a
civilization obsessed with sex, this is remarkable. Maintaining a
steady population requires a birth rate of 2.1 In Western Europe,
the birth rate currently stands at 1.5, or 30 percent below
replacement. In 30 years there will be 70 to 80 million fewer
Europeans than there are today. The current birth rate in
even lower at 1.2. At that rate, the working age population
declines by 30 percent in 20 years, which has a huge impact on the
economy. When you don't have young workers to replace the older
ones, you have to import them.
The European countries are currently importing Moslems. Today, the
Moslems comprise 10 percent of
the percentage is rising rapidly because they have higher
birthrates. However, the Moslem populations are not being
integrated into the cultures of their host countries, which is a
political catastrophe. One reason
Iraq war is
they fear their Moslem populations will explode on them. By 2020,
more than half of all births in the
will be non-European.
The huge design flaw in the postmodern secular state is that you
need a traditional religious society birth rate to sustain it. The
Europeans simply don't wish to have children, so they are dying.
birthrate is 1.3. As a result,
lose up to 60 million people over the next 30 years. Because
Japan has a
very different society than
Europe, they refuse to import
workers. Instead, they are just shutting
already closed 2,000 schools, and is closing them down at the rate
of 300 per year.
also aging very rapidly. By 2020, one out of every five Japanese
will be at least 70 years old. Nobody has any idea about how to
run an economy with those demographics.
A full-size, 3D
Rosetta Stone replica
comprise two of the world's major economic engines, aren't merely
in recession, they're shutting down. This will have a huge impact
on the world economy, and it is already beginning to happen. Why
are the birthrates so low? There is a direct correlation between
abandonment of traditional religious society and a drop in birth
rate, and Christianity in
Europe is becoming irrelevant.
The second reason is economic. When the birth rate drops below
replacement, the population ages. With fewer working people to
support more retired people, it puts a crushing tax burden on the
smaller group of working age people. As a result, young people
delay marriage and having a family. Once this trend starts, the
downward spiral only gets worse. These countries have abandoned
all the traditions they formerly held in regard to having families
and raising children.
rate is 2.0 , just below replacement. We have an increase in
population because of immigration. When broken down by ethnicity,
the Anglo birth rate is 1.6 (same as
while the Hispanic birth rate is 2.7. In the
baby boomers are starting to retire in massive numbers. This will
push the elder dependency ratio from 19 to 38 over the next 10 to
15 years. This is not as bad as
Europe, but still
represents the same kind of trend.
Western civilization seems to have forgotten what every primitive
society understands-you need kids to have a healthy society.
Children are huge consumers. Then they grow up to become
taxpayers. That's how a society works, but the postmodern secular
state seems to have forgotten that. If
rates of the past 20 to 30 years had been the same as post-World
War II, there would be no Social Security or Medicare problems.
The world's most effective birth control device is money. As
society creates a middle class and women move into the workforce,
birth rates drop. Having large families is incompatible with
middle class living.
The quickest way to drop the birth rate is through rapid economic
development. After World War II, the
instituted a $600 tax credit per child. The idea was to enable mom
and dad to have four children without being troubled by taxes.
This led to a baby boom of 22 million kids, which was a huge
consumer market. That turned into a huge tax base. However, to
match that incentive in today's dollars would cost $12,000 per
India do not
have declining populations. However, in both countries, there is a
preference for boys over girls, and we now have the technology to
know which is which before they are born. In China and India,
families are aborting the girls. As a result, in each of these
countries there are 70 million boys growing up who will never find
wives. When left alone, nature produces 103 boys for every 100
girls. In some provinces, however, the ratio is 128 boys to every
The birth rate in Russia is so low that by 2050 their population
will be smaller than that of Yemen. Russia has one-sixth of the
earth's land surface and much of its oil. You can't control that
much area with such a small population. Immediately to the south,
you have China with 70 million unmarried men who are a real
potential nightmare scenario for Russia.
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Restructuring of American Business
The fourth major transformation involves
a fundamental restructuring of American business. Today's business
environment is very complex and competitive. To succeed, you have
to be the best, which means having the highest quality and lowest
cost. Whatever your price point, you must have the best quality
and lowest price. To be the best, you have to concentrate on one
thing. You can't be all things to all people and be the best.
A generation ago, IBM used to make every part of their computer.
Now Intel makes the chips, Microsoft makes the software, and
someone else makes the modems, hard drives, monitors, etc. IBM
even out sources their call center. Because IBM has all these
companies supplying goods and services cheaper and better than
they could do it themselves, they can make a better computer at a
lower cost. This is called a fracturing of business. When one
company can make a better product by relying on others to perform
functions the business used to do itself, it creates a complex
pyramid of companies that serve and support each other.
This fracturing of American business is now in its second
The companies who supply IBM are now doing the same thing -
outsourcing many of their core services and production process. As
a result, they can make cheaper, better products. Over time, this
pyramid continues to get bigger and bigger. Just when you think it
can't fracture again, it does.
Even very small businesses can have a large pyramid of corporate
entities that perform many of its important functions. One aspect
of this trend is that companies end up with fewer employees and
more independent contractors. This trend has also created two new
words in business, integrator and complementor. At the top of the
pyramid, IBM is the integrator. As you go down the pyramid,
Microsoft, Intel and the other companies that support IBM are the
complementors. However, each of the complementors is itself an
integrator for the complementors underneath it.
This has several implications, the first of which is that we are
now getting false readings on the economy. People who used to be
employees are now independent contractors launching their own
businesses. There are many people working whose work is not listed
as a job. As a result, the economy is perking along better than
the numbers are telling us.
Outsourcing also confused the numbers. Suppose a company like
General Motors decides to outsource all its employee cafeteria
functions to Marriott (which it did). It lays-off hundreds of
cafeteria workers, who then get hired right back by Marriott. The
only thing that has changed is that these people work for Marriott
rather than GM. Yet, the media headlines will scream that America
has lost more manufacturing jobs. All that really happened is that
these workers are now reclassified as service workers. So the old
way of counting jobs contributes to false economic readings. As
yet, we haven't figured out how to make the numbers catch up with
the changing realities of the business world.
Another implication of this massive restructuring is that because
companies are getting rid of units and people that used to work
for them, the entity is smaller. As the companies get smaller and
more efficient, revenues are going down but profits are going up.
As a result, the old notion that revenues are up and we're doing
great isn't always the case anymore. Companies are getting smaller
but are becoming more efficient and profitable in the process.
O P T I O N
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IMPLICATIONS OF THE FOUR
1. The War in Iraq
In some ways, the war is going very well. Afghanistan and Iraq have
the beginnings of a modern government, which is a huge step forward.
The Saudis are starting to talk about some good things, while Egypt
and Lebanon are beginning to move in a good direction. A series of
revolutions have taken place in countries like Ukraine and Georgia.
There will be more of these revolutions for an interesting reason.
In every revolution, there comes a point where the dictator turns to
the general and says, Fire into the crowd. If the general fires into
the crowd, it stops the revolution. If the general says No, the
revolution continues. Increasingly, the generals are saying No
because their kids are in the crowd.
Thanks to TV and the Internet, the average 18-year old outside the
U.S. is very savvy about what is going on in the world, especially
in terms of popular culture. There is a huge global consciousness,
and young people around the world want to be a part of it. It is
increasingly apparent to them that the miserable government where
they live is the only thing standing in their way. More and more, it
is the well-educated kids, the children of the generals and the
elite, who are leading the revolutions.
At the same time, not all is well with the war. The level of
violence in Iraq doesn't appear to be improving. It's possible that
we're asking too much of Islam all at one time. We're trying to jolt
them from the 7th century to the 21st century all at once, which may
be further than they can go. They might make it and they might not.
Nobody knows for sure. The point is, we don't know how the war will
turn out. Anyone who says they know is just guessing. The real place
to watch is Iran. If they actually obtain nuclear weapons it will be
a terrible situation. There are two ways to deal with it. The first
is a military strike, which will be very difficult. The Iranians
have dispersed their nuclear development facilities and put them
underground. The U.S. has nuclear weapons that can go under the
earth and take out those facilities, but we don't want to do that.
The other way is to separate the radical mullahs from the
government, which is the most likely course of action. Seventy
percent of the Iranian population is under 30. They are Moslem but
not Arab. They are mostly pro-Western. Many experts think the U.S.
should have dealt with Iran before going to war with Iraq. The
problem isn't so much the weapons, it's the people who control them.
If Iran has a moderate government, the weapons become less of a
We don't know if we will win the war in Iraq. We could lose or win.
What we're looking for is any indicator that Islam is moving into
the 21st century and stabilizing.
It may be that pushing 500 million people from farms and villages
into cities is too much too soon. Although it gets almost no
publicity, China is experiencing hundreds of demonstrations around
the country, which is unprecedented. These are not students in
Tiananmen Square. These are average citizens who are angry with the
government for building chemical plants and polluting the water they
drink and the air they breathe.
The Chinese are a smart and industrious people. They may be able to
pull it off and become a very successful economic and military
superpower. If so, we will have to learn to live with it. If they
want to share the responsibility of keeping the world's oil lanes
open, that's a good thing. They currently have eight new nuclear
electric power generators under way and 45 on the books to build.
Soon, they will leave the U.S. way behind in their ability to
generate nuclear power.
What can go wrong with China? For one, you can't move 550 million
people into the cities without major problems. Two, China really
wants Taiwan, not so much for economic reasons, they just want it.
The Chinese know that their system of communism can't survive much
longer in the 21st century. The last thing they want to do before
they morph into some sort of more capitalistic government is to take
We may wake up one morning and find they have launched an attack on
Taiwan. If so, it will be a mess, both economically and militarily.
The U.S. has committed to the military defense of Taiwan. If China
attacks Taiwan, will we really go to war against them? If the
Chinese generals believe the answer is no, they may attack. If we
don't defend Taiwan, every treaty the U.S. has will be worthless.
Hopefully, China won't do anything stupid.
Europe and Japan are
dying because their populations are aging and shrinking. These
trends can be reversed if the young people start breeding. However,
the birth rates in these areas are so low it will take two
generations to turn things around. No economic model exists that
permits 50 years to turn things around. Some countries are beginning
to offer incentives for people to have bigger families. For example,
Italy is offering tax breaks for having children. However, it's a
lifestyle issue versus a tiny amount of money. Europeans aren't
willing to give up their comfortable lifestyles in order to have
In general, everyone in Europe just wants it to last a while longer.
Europeans have a real talent for living. They don't want to work
very hard. The average European worker gets 400 more hours of
vacation time per year than Americans. They don't want to work and
they don't want to make any of the changes needed to revive their
economies. The summer after 9/11, France lost 15,000 people in a
heat wave. In August, the country basically shuts down when everyone
goes on vacation.
That year, a severe heat wave struck and 15,000 elderly people
living in nursing homes and hospitals died. Their children didn't
even leave the beaches to come back and take care of the bodies.
Institutions had to scramble to find enough refrigeration units to
hold the bodies until people came to claim them. This loss of life
was five times bigger than 9/11 in America, yet it didn't trigger
any change in French society.
When birth rates are so low, it creates a tremendous tax burden on
the young. Under those circumstances, keeping mom and dad alive is
not an attractive option. That's why euthanasia is becoming so
popular in most European countries. The only country that doesn't
permit (and even encourage) euthanasia is Germany, because of all
the baggage from World War II.
The European economy is beginning to fracture. Countries like Italy
are starting to talk about pulling out of the European Union because
it is killing them. When things get bad economically in Europe, they
tend to get very nasty politically. The canary in the mine is
anti-Semitism. When it goes up, it means trouble is coming. Current
levels of anti-Semitism are higher than ever.
Germany won't launch another war, but Europe will likely get
shabbier, more dangerous and less pleasant to live in. Japan has a
birth rate of 1.3 and has no intention of bringing in immigrants. By
2020, one out of every five Japanese will be 70 years old. Property
values in Japan have dropped every year for the past 14 years. The
country is simply shutting down. In the U.S. we also have an aging
population. Boomers are starting to retire at a massive rate. These
retirements will have several major impacts.
Possible massive sell off of large four-bedroom houses and a
movement to condos. An enormous drain on the treasury. Boomers vote,
and they want their benefits, even if it means putting a crushing
tax burden on their kids to get them. Social Security will be a huge
problem. As this generation ages, it will start to drain the system.
We are the only country in the world where there are no age limits
on medical procedures. An enormous drain on the health care system.
This will also increase the tax burden on the young, which will
cause them to delay marriage and having families, which will drive
down the birth rate even further.
Although scary, these demographics also present enormous
opportunities for products and services tailored to aging
populations. There will be tremendous demand for caring for older
people, especially those who don't need nursing homes but need some
level of care. Some people will have a business where they take care
of three or four people in their homes. The demand for that type of
service and for products to physically care for aging people will be
Make sure the demographics of your business are attuned to where the
action is. For example, you don't want to be a baby food company in
Europe or Japan. Demographics are much underrated as an indicator of
where the opportunities are. Businesses need customers. Go where the
4. Restructuring of American Business
The restructuring of American business means we
are coming to the end of the age of the employer and employee. With
all this fracturing of businesses into different and smaller units,
employers can't guarantee jobs anymore because they don't know what
their companies will look like next year. Everyone is on their way
to becoming an independent contractor.
The new workforce contract will be: Show up at my office five days a
week and do what I want you to do, but you handle your own
insurance, benefits, health care and everything else. Husbands and
wives are becoming economic units. They take different jobs and work
different shifts depending on where they are in their careers and
families. They make tradeoffs to put together a compensation package
to take care of the family. This used to happen only with highly
educated professionals with high incomes. Now it is happening at the
level of the factory floor worker.
Couples at all levels are designing their compensation packages
based on their individual needs. The only way this can work is if
everything is portable and flexible, which requires a huge shift in
the American economy.
The U.S is in the process of building the world's first 21st century
model economy. The only other countries doing this are U.K. and
Australia. The model is fast, flexible, highly productive and
unstable in that it is always fracturing and re-fracturing. This
will increase the economic gap between the U.S. and everybody else,
especially Europe and Japan.
At the same time, the military gap is increasing. Other than China,
we are the only country that is continuing to put money into their
military. Plus, we are the only military getting on-the-ground
military experience through our war in Iraq. We know which high-tech
weapons are working and which ones aren't. There is almost no one
who can take us on economically or militarily.
There has never been a superpower in this position before. On the
one hand, this makes the U.S. a magnet for bright and ambitious
people. It also makes us a target. We are becoming one of the last
holdouts of the traditional Judeo-Christian culture. There is no
better place in the world to be in business and raise children. The
U.S. is by far the best place to have an idea, form a business and
put it into the marketplace.
We take it for granted, but it isn't as available in other countries
of the world. Ultimately, it's an issue of culture. The only people
who can hurt us are ourselves, by losing our culture. If we give up
our Judeo-Christian culture, we become just like the Europeans. The
culture war is the whole ballgame. If we lose it, there isn't
another America to pull us out.
This information was presented by Herbert Meyer at a Davos,
Switzerland meeting which was attended by most of the CEOs from all
the major international corporations -- a very good summary of
today's key trends and a perspective one seldom sees.
Herbert E. Meyer served as Special Assistant to the Director
of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National
Intelligence Council. In these positions, he managed production of
the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates and other top-secret
projections for the President and his national security advisers.
Meyer is widely credited with being the first senior U.S. Government
official to forecast the Soviet Union's collapse, for which he later
was awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service
Medal, the intelligence community's highest honor. Formerly an
associate editor of FORTUNE, he is also the author of several books.
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