Pivot to Asia is great but we need to rebalance the US first – CNBC

6 months ago Comments Off on Pivot to Asia is great but we need to rebalance the US first – CNBC

Yes, while Uncle Sam was dozing on its unique superpower laurels, lulled by the “end of history” fairy tales, his rising-sun partner was busy producing what America wanted to buy and consummating, with gusto, the economic conquest of Asia.

By the time the Uncle eventually woke up and shook his head, the smart and nimble-footed far-eastern ally was laughing all the way to the bank with a fortune (net international asset position) of $3.28 trillion (at Friday’s yen-dollar exchange rate), and counting.

Asia also became Japan’s largest – and practically unassailable – business venture, taking 53 percent of its exports last year, in spite of slightly declining sales to China. A vivid picture of all that is a sight of an ocean (not a sea) of Japanese cars and motorbikes, with small Chevys and Fords being odd rarities, in Asia’s booming and congested cities.

And to borrow that neocons’ formula, Japan’s “full spectrum dominance” of Asian economies is not limited to cars; it now goes as far as (a world-beating) Asian communications and social network software, medical technology, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, beauty products … I recently watched in disbelief as, in an East-Asian shopping mall, the wares of famous French cosmetic shops from Place Vendôme and Faubourg Saint-Honoré were heavily discounted at vulgar sales stands, while the Japanese competitors were operating in glowing, state-of-the-art beauty shops. And these were not local knockoffs; they were certified French originals.

This hat-off Japanese success is a product of smart business strategies and practices. I believe that there is no truth to the idea that Asia is a “naturally captive market” for the Japanese, with an implied anti-Western subtext. It’s all very hard work and a 24/7 customer service, the kind of stuff I used to see when IBM engineers were coming in the middle of the night to get the machines back up in our Columbia computer lab.

Do the homework, Washington!

The fact that the South Koreans and the Chinese are now ferociously taking the fight to the Japanese in East Asian markets is only showing who the real competitor is.

Pivot to Asia is great but we need to rebalance the US first – CNBC}