The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

China Has A Huge Lead In Patents

Larger than I realized:

Now, per capita, it’s actually South Korea, Japan, USA, China and I wouldn’t say that doesn’t matter: it’s why Japan and South Korea stay prosperous (though life in South Korea, I gather, is rather nasty for workers.) Still, the bulk matters more: who’s in the lead.

The common rebuttal is that Chinese patents are low quality. So, let’s say that half of Chinese patents suck. They’d still be slightly in the lead.

It’s also interesting that Japan gets almost as many patents as the US. You don’t hear about Japan much these days (unlike the 80s when everyone was terrified) but they haven’t lost their game.

This chart echoes what I’ve been saying for years: the tech lead moves to where the manufacturing floor is. And that’s in China. Happened when it moved to the US from Britain and the US is not immune to the rule.

TechxManufacturing=Power in the modern world. If the US wants to change this, they have to re-shore industry, not just make half-hearted “friend-shoring” moves.

It’s also interesting how bad Europe does here. Germany+France+Britain=5%, which is half of South Korea. Europe is living off its legacy, and that means its decline is damn near certain if they don’t reverse this. Given the US is now poaching European industry, and Europe is letting it out of fear of Russia, well, the future doesn’t look bright.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 14, 2023


As Long Covid Increases Expect Government Policy To Rush Death


  1. Ché Pasa

    Finance + Rent + (Control of) Machinery of Death = Power, no? Thus technology + manufacturing shouldn’t matter as much. Isn’t that the thinking of our (for now) lords and masters? Isn’t that a reason why they make no real effort to reassemble more of a tech+manufacturing base at “home?”

    Asking for a friend….

  2. marku52

    I was working at HP’s printer division when NAFTA came into play. Manufacturing in US immediately went overseas. Sometime later, mangelment brought in a “consultant” to teach us about the Toyota system. After his presentation, I asked “Would Toyota ever separate engineering from manufacturing?”


  3. StewartM

    I’m sure the West has the lead in ever-more complex and nuanced “financial instruments”. Nobody, but nobody, creatively shuffles paper better than us. GO USA!

    The problem with re-shoring industries is that, to keep costs from going through the roof, you have to fix:

    a) Housing (make it affordable again, which means strip the rich and private equity of all the housing they’ve bought and prevent them from buying up units ever again)

    b) medical care costs needs to be cut in half, which is probably doable based on what other countries pay.

    c) transportation costs (requiring a working automobile for transit is a hugely inefficient and costly burden for the plebs). We need mass transit, and fast.

    d) Other costs (like telecommunications, which we’re overcharged at least double).

    Each of these requires taking on very profitable businesses and indeed, driving many out of business entirely (like medical insurance). Does anyone think we’re up to this?

  4. Willy

    Clearly, this is the result of all the woke Marxism. If only Americans weren’t subject to all that dangblasted woke indoctrination of Marxist democrats and their corrupt media-entertainment-academic complex henchmen.

    But I am open to the possibility that late-stage capitalism has made most of the remaining western companies so dysfunctional that the idea of honestly competing for the exchange of cash for value is now considered a woke Marxist concept.

  5. Purple Library Guy

    Good points, StewartM. Again we find that much of the US elite is concentrated on personal gain, in ways that damage the US national project for either dominance or prosperity. Which, again, is what I call “decadence”.

    Che Pasa, sure, but where do the machinery of death come from? For that you need technology & manufacturing. Heh, it’s just like when I’m playing a 4X computer game, like Civilization or one of those galactic conquest things. I concentrate on building up the economy and accelerating my research progress, so I can research the best economic technologies, so I can boost my economy further, so that great economy can finance excellent research and so on . . . all so, in the end, I can build giant Fleets of Death capable of crushing whoever messes with me. Can’t build a Fleet of Death without lots of manufacturing and high technology.

    US military dominance is eroding. In some ways their very emphasis on the military has led to the erosion of their military strength, because emphasis on the military has meant reduced emphasis on the civilian economy, both in terms of money and attention.

  6. different clue


    The only way we will ever find out if we are ” up to this” is if someone begins the process of starting up a Movement-Party based on achieving just exactly that. The Movement part of it would do the several million man/woman hours necessary over the next few years doing many thousands of teach-ins and gatherings all over the country about just what such an agenda would be and just why we would help ourselves with it. The Party part of it would be a political-combat electoral war-fighting organization devoted to getting Movement-minded people into positions of big, little and tiny power all over everywhere and getting them entrenched there and using them to try enacting this and that and preventing that and this in pursuit of the Movement agenda.

    Occupy your mind. Occupy the culture. Occupy politics and then Occupy the governments.

    Part of the Big Movement Agenda would have to be defecting America from out of every Free Trade Agreement and every Free Trade Treaty and every Free Trade Organization. That way we could “legally” protectionize ourselves for the next few decades needed to reshore and restore a smaller slower version of the multi-sectorial economy which the International Free Trade Conspirators have spent the last few decades ever since Carter and Reagan and culminating in the great Bonfire of the Possibilities waged by Clinton against America.

    At the psycho-social political-culture level we would have to tear down and destroy American Exceptionalism and grow in its place something which could be called American Okayness Ordinarianism ( unless someone could think of a simpler name).
    America, just another dispensable nation.
    We’re number whatever!
    MAOKA . . . which would stand for Make America O K Again. We could sell hats. If Trump were to sue us, we could sell millions more hats off the publicity.
    MAOKA would become a thing.

    We would have to treat supporters of the “rules based order” as being our internal enemies to be defeated and destroyed in a hopefully peaceful Civil Cold War within America.

    I would suggest a very prosaic and very unromantic name for such a Movement-Party . . . . something like New Deal Social Democrat and the New Deal Social Democratic Party. Ponderous, serious and boring enough to repel the fun-seeking romantics who frivolize everything they touch.

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