Could USA’s Loss on the World Cup Soccer Field Mirror What’s Happening in the Global Markets? (Commentary)
By Nick Popow, HUMNEWS student reporter-at-large
(HN, July 6, 2010) "History is written by the winners."
Winston Churchill hit the nail on the head with that thought, which has long-since been embraced as an American ideal. It has gotten to the point where Americans have become obsessed with dominating whatever field they choose to play - whether it’s in business, academia, the media, military or athletics in general.
The question is why?
As the world watches the first World Cup ever to be held on African soil in South Africa, unprecedented numbers of Americans have flocked to TV screens to watch what is known in most other countries as football.
Who were they cheering for mostly?
Ironically, not for the star-studded Team USA – even with a lineup of players hailing from many top European clubs.
Instead the applause heard in American pubs, airports and community centers was reserved for the South American, European or Asian teams that define their individual ethnic origins. Not only does this phenomena reflect the ethnic melting pot that is America but also because most European and South American teams are simply viewed as “better” or “better qualified” than the American team. It is no exaggeration to say that Americans hate being second best.
Bill Clinton was spot on when he said in Cape Town last week at the Fortune Global Summit that if the US were to host the next World Cup every visiting team would have a local home audience – given the sheer number of Diaspora communities here.
One could concede that, at least for a split second, as Landon Donovan of the U.S. team scored a dramatic last gasp winning goal against Algeria, the chance of the US to become a winner was within reach. That goal seemed to finally ignite widespread passion for the game State-side.
But that hope was short-lived as in the very next game the U.S. was eliminated from further competition in a 2-1 loss to Ghana – the last remaining hope for the host continent, Africa - in overtime. Imagine, the U.S., a super power, being eliminated by a tiny developing country like Ghana.
But alas, soccer does not accord status to superpowers, not even the United States.
Could the ongoing realignment of power on the World Cup soccer pitch reflect what is going on in the global business marketplace? A marketplace where emerging economies like Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya are vying for attention with the likes of Singapore, Mexico and India.
Natalie Billon, a Wall Street veteran, put it this way: “The rise in the strength and popularity of soccer teams outside the U.S. mirrors a shift in the balance of economic power toward the emerging market economies. Investors are increasingly looking outside the US for growth.”
Recent GDP growth data backs this assertion. From 2000 to 2008, while G7 countries have contributed 19.8% of GDP growth, the BRIC countries have contributed an incredible 46.3%. To reflect this, investors are voting with their portfolios. Ten years ago, the allocation recommendation for exposure to emerging markets was less than 8%. Today the recommendation is 25% to 30% plus.
Sadly, and to the detriment of US business, the mainstream American media is just beginning to take notice of this historic shift. If there was one clear message from the Cape Town summit that Clinton headlined it is that the enticing opportunities exist NOW in Africa and that US captains of industry could be missing the boat. As Clinton presciently said, the problem of the rich countries is rigidity.
Perhaps what we are witnessing – the decline of America’s pre-eminent position in everything - is something akin to the fall or decay of the British Empire more than 100 years ago. Heady stuff to ponder to be sure. This is a view shared by the quintessential international investor and market historian Jim Rogers, who some years ago identified the decline of the US and the developed markets and the rise of the emerging markets, led by China and the commodities boom. “I dont see anyway that America is going to become the great country in the 21st century again,” says Rogers.
---With research by HUMNEWS.