January 29th, 2012
09:10 PM ET

Zakaria: The end of an era for Japan

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Wherever you are in the world, you've probably used or coveted some Japanese product - a Honda four-wheeler; a Toyota Prius, a Sony, a Panasonic TV, a Nikon camera. Since the 1950s, Japan's exports have flooded the world and fueled an economic miracle at home, making that country one of the wealthiest in the world. Well, this week marks a turning point - one of the world's great export engines has run out of gas.

What in the world is going on?

For the first time in 31 years, Japan has recorded a trade deficit. In simple terms, that means Japan imported more than it exported last year. Now this is not that unusual for some rich countries: the U.S. has had a trade deficit since 1975, and yet we've grown. But the U.S. economy is not built on exports. Japan's economic rise on the other hand, has been almost entirely powered by exports.

So what has changed in Japan?

The Japanese government would like to blame one-off events: Last year's earthquake and tsunami crippled factories and shut down nuclear energy reactors. The offshoot of that was decreased economic output, plus they needed to import expensive oil from the Middle East. But natural disasters have only highlighted and accelerated existing trends in Japan: A decline in competitiveness and an ageing work force.

China and other East Asian countries can now produce cheaper products and in greater quantities. Add to that a rising Yen, and Japan's exporters have been at a disadvantage globally. Toyota's chief perhaps said it best last year: "It doesn't make sense to manufacture in Japan."

Then add to this Japan's demographics. Between 1990 and 2007, Japan's working population dropped from 86 to 83 million. At the same time, the number of Americans between the ages of 15 and 64 rose from 160 million to 200 million. In a global marketplace, this is a major handicap for Tokyo.

Between 2001 and 2010, Japan's economy grew at seven-tenths of one percent - less than half the pace of America's. It was also well behind Europe. Contrast that with growth per person - or GDP per capita - and Japan actually outperforms America and the Euro Zone.

So while Japan's economy in aggregate has been hurt by this lack of workers, for the average Japanese worker income is still up and quality of life is still very high. That's partly why the country has not felt the pressure to reform.

Now it's easy to extrapolate from the data that Japan's low growth is not a failure of economic policy, but just a reflection of its demographics. But that's too simple. In reality, Japan's industry is becoming less competitive and even per capita incomes will start slowing down.

Tokyo's policymakers have failed its people - they could have opened up many of its closed sectors to competition, reformed its labor laws to make Japanese labor more attractive, cut pension benefits, and allowed more immigration. Its government could have put the country on a path to reduce its massive debt burden. Instead, we're now entering an era where one of the great manufacturing nations of history faces a looming current account deficit. With its debt at 211% of its GDP, if the cost of its borrowing increases, Tokyo would face an even greater crisis: A default.

Keeping a rich country competitive is very hard, especially in a democracy where interest groups keep asking for more - more benefits, more subsidies, more protections. They want to be shielded from competitive forces. It is happening in America, just as it happened in Japan. It's easy to forget how powerful a growth engine Japan was in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

But eventually, it was unable to change its ways, reform, and get less rigid. The result was decline.

For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to visit the Global Public Square every day. Also, for more What in the World? pieces, click here.

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Topics: East Asia • Economy • From Fareed • Japan • What in the World?

soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Kude

    The Far East always had a history of exotic trades. Like china's silk. I suppose that's only starting to end now. But to tell you the truth, I'll always love my Wii.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Reply
    • Lex

      Which is made in China.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
      • yeppers

        <img

        January 30, 2012 at 5:46 am |
      • Romulan

        So are the iPhones and iPads. If you do some research, Foxconn which is the company that makes iPhone and iPads for Apple makes less than $15 per unit on iPhones. Apple is making all the money. Similarly for Nintendo Wii.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:58 am |
      • DeeNYC

        don't forget xbox, everyone's always riding Apple but Microsoft builds it's xbox at foxconn also.

        January 30, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • wat

      Seems like you'll always love nonsensical babble too.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Amar, your flitering system rejects every time when I mention the Western name of NIPPON, So I have to phrase it differently like the "Land of the Rising Sun" etc.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:56 am | Reply
  2. Joe

    Why cut pension benefits? don't the workes earned that with their hard work? why don't redistribute salaries more equally and rather than proudly announce the high executives big bonuses and salaries, which is a slap in the worker's face, thins of other ways of becoming proficient and profitable, cut pension benefits is NOT THE ONLY way!!

    January 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Reply
    • Burns

      Sick of whiners. Sorry, but you don't get to hold the next generation hostage financially because you worked. Their geenration didn't have enough kids, or save enough money. They're going to pay the price, sadly so will their kids.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Reply
      • Jonathan

        Actually the next generation will need to earn the benefits that the previous generation has worked for. The next generation is also benefiting heavily from the work and struggle and better conditions gained by the previous generation. Before you say Im being selfish etc... Im 22, im the next generation and iots not hard to see that my generation wants all the benefits without the work of the previous generations.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:28 am |
      • cabotool

        foolish and very stupid.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:33 am |
      • Dave

        So your solution is to reneg on promises made ? This is not a case of holding a generation hostage. It is a case of a company fulfilling on the benefits offered to lure an employee.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Independent

      Or maybe people could SAVE money themselves instead of depending on someone else for their own well being?

      January 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Reply
      • cj

        You are complaining about people expecting what the government promised them. There in lies the overall failure. People lived I life expecting the government to do what they promised and that is supply a livable stipend to people that have reached retirement.

        Should SS or whatever any other nation calls it, been structured differently than it was? Absolutely, but it wasn't and now we are all stuck with it. Pointing a finger and speaking from high with your 20/20 vision of the past about how people should have lived just makes you look foolish.

        January 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Edwin

      I'm thinking that workers who based their future retirements on pension expectations would rightly be upset if those were taken away. If someone promises you something, waits a few years, then yanks it away, it is not whining to complain.

      I know - part of the reason I took a lower salary was because I was promised pension benefits... yet last year they were stolen from me by our state's new administration. I planned my retirement around those benefits (which were promised as surely as my salary). Even if I find another job in another state (which I plan to do), I now won't be able to retire until about 75 or so.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Reply
      • BobaFett

        How bout this? Make your own GOD DARN PLAN!

        January 30, 2012 at 5:56 am |
      • RightCoast

        Boba you don't get it, he did make his plan. As part of his salary he was promised x dollars every two weeks, a pension of x dollars, and he budgeted around that. That's what any rational, red blooded, capitalistic loving, American would and should do.

        What we need to do is start winding down those promises and stop making future ones. The further away from retirement you are, the less you're going to get so people can budget and plan for what to expect come their retirement. The sooner our politicians get this point and start telling us the hard facts the better.

        January 30, 2012 at 6:36 am |
      • Miami

        I would be willing to bet that your government salary is closer to the salary of a comparable private sector job than you think. If you take into consideration the present value of the promised future pention benefits and add that to your current salary I'll wager that your overall compensation ia actually quite a bit higher than a comparable private sector job. Unions and the like have taken advantage of the system and the public's goodwill/ignorance to pass payraise after payraise even in tough times. Usually pensions are based on a percentage of the average final few years of a career and because pay reductions in the public sector are unheard of and promotions based on senority the norm, these pensions are quite high. Not to mention that time to retirement is not too hard to accomplish (full vesting).

        January 30, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • db

      Oh, you mean to effect socialism like the Democratic party is doing to the USA. I get it now.

      January 30, 2012 at 1:34 am | Reply
    • schlammerhammer

      Wel my good friend, here is how it works. CEO's get their big bonuses based on share holder value, stock price or profitability. To achieve that, many CEO's are cutting payroll (create big layoffs) take money from pension funds ( illigal ) or they play some financial tricks. Once tehy get the big nonus they leave the company and cash in teh golden hand shake. Carly Fiorino for example. She was CEO of HP, run it into the ground for three years and in teh ned she left HP with 25 million dollars golden hand shake. This is not tru for companies like Caterpillar or IBM or Aple but there are many companies ( financial, mortgage borakers etc, who work exactly like that.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:54 am | Reply
    • qstnmrk

      I agree with you, and so do the world's economists and financiers. In Davos, that's all they were talking about... how to force businesses in capitalist nations to behave more socially and support its workers through pensions, etc., or to be forced into not only paying higher taxes, but to be pressured into making larger donations to support social programs. They think this is the best way to keep the capitalist model working.

      January 30, 2012 at 7:46 am | Reply
    • Mike

      "Ask not what your country can do for you....Ask what you can do for your country"

      January 30, 2012 at 7:47 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        Exactly, that's how the older generations were taught in Nippon: a combination of Confucian and Shintoist values: obedience, loyalty and solidarity. The new generation rejects relationships. Birthrate is one of the lowest in the world.

        January 30, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  3. lol

    About time people realized how failed all these special interests are. Listen, i do not want to live in a city covered in smoke and what not, but i would much prefer a bit of pollution and a job, then no pollution and no job. I honestly think democracy is a failure, Empires are how nations should be. One man with a wise council is more effective than a bunch of stupid politicians with no knowledge about how the world works.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Reply
    • Dave

      lol, your comment about one wise man is a paraphrase of a quote from the last century: "You cannot get bravery from a thousand cowards nor wisdom from a million fools". I may have this quote a little wrong, but the original was in German. Speaker was A. Hitler.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
      • chibidw

        To say that you cannot learn something from a person simply because of who the person was is a height of anti-intellectualism.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:14 am |
      • Thaddukki

        It is not Hitler. If you read Plato's Republic, you will understand that there are 4 forms of government and rated from best to wors they are as follows (if I remember correctly as I read Plato's republic quite some years ago) :
        1. Philosopher King – This is what Iol means
        2. Oligarghy – Kings, Bishops, Law makers and Media (Not sure about this one)
        3. Democrazy – Our current government elected by people
        4. Tyranny – This is Hitler

        You have to understand, using our environment in moderation with conscious recycling is critical to have enough for us as well as future generation – sort of have the cake and eat it.

        Same way the greed of capitalistic governments and individuals should also be moderated. You cannot eliminate work force and replace them all with robots who will not ask salaries, nor pensions, but then you will understand that robots do not need to buy anything as well. The work force who is the corner stone of the economy will not have money to spend and the rich will not be able to make any more profit as there is no money with the masses to buy the products that are made by the robots. It is very complex, but it is doable, we need to have a human touch to effectively mange the markets and inflation and consolidation of wealth... hope you get the analogy with the environment and us.

        I get the point about future generations, but if the current generation dies then there is no future generation. As I say, it is always important to save the mother first before the baby if only one can be saved as if the mother is saved she can make more babies but if the baby is saved then it will eventually die as there will be no mother to take care of the baby and hence both will die.

        This is not difficult to understand but we blindly become slave to abstract concepts like Capitalism and Socialism and forget the reality which is humanity. We need to save self, no doubt, but we also need to take care of our society otherwise we will be living in wilderness !

        January 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Joe Somebody

      I agree that Democracy can be an issue. Personally, I think the US is too open. I feel that we're spending half our energy fighting over social values such as whether abortion should be legal and gay marriage, which keeps other aspects of our country stagnant. Having one system by a single group can be more effective because the population knows what's at stake so instead of fighting over whether you should be allowed to have a handgun, you pay more attention to how to create more jobs for people. So in a way, the Democracy's backfired.

      However, in spite of that, I disagree in wanting to push back to more of an oligarchy because I think too much would be compromised. There has to be a medium, but it's such a fine line with a country like the United States. I think the Nordic System is the perfect system, but it would never work in a country the size and population of the US.

      It'll be a very interesting year to see what'll happen in the US and beyond.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Reply
      • schlammerhammer

        You are right what you said. The problem with the USA is corruption and dishonesty. In smaller countries like the Nordic countries or say Switzerland is that there are less opportunities to cheat. In Switzerland for instance, teh Government has been very generous towards people seeking asylum. Now, the people who get these benefits informed their friends back bome and suddenly there are thausendsupon thausends of people on the border who also want to come into teh country and reap these nice benefits. There is always corruption, I do not know why but it is part of our society. In a country as big as the USA we have major corruption going on among our leaders in the Senate and Congress. These are people who have been elected into high office to lead us. Instead they steal from teh very Government they serve. See Nancy Pelosi California, she is a major thief.

        January 30, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • Filmore

      What about one leader in charge who has no clue how the world works? That's how most empires end up.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply
      • Mens sana

        Unless that leader in charge is an ancient roman. 🙂

        January 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
      • peter

        G W Bush, Perfect example!

        January 30, 2012 at 7:43 am |
      • Harveen

        Foremost example: G W Bush

        January 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Michael

      "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried." ~ Winston Churchill

      January 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Reply
      • Steam-O-Globin

        What the heck does that have to do with the topic?

        January 30, 2012 at 12:07 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        True, Nippon still clings to its Shintoist past, in which conformity is the norm. Growing up in prosperity young people think differently, Individuality is their goals of life. Women want more freedom and aren't keen to marry.

        January 30, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • Antelope Tim

      You know I kind of udnerstand that, but I also disagree with you. There are tough decisions to be made across the globe in the next ten years. I am now 43 years old, even before I graduated from high school I did not expect to have social security available to me even though I was paying into it as soon as I took my first part time job while in high school. Pensions were also on their way out and are long gone in the private sector. The public sector would not be far behind. I have built my career around these realities and I do not regret it, though it did put a significant financial burden on me as I plan without expectation of such benefits. If I am unable to retire when I want it will not be because a pension was taken away or social security was taken away from me. The reality is, you took a risk and it did not pay off, so you are now paying for it. Then again if I had sat and listened to all of the promises the government made or any individual employer, I'd be in the same boat as you.

      January 30, 2012 at 12:22 am | Reply
      • Worldwalker

        When you are told "you do A and we will pay you B" it is not "taking a risk" to believe the people who have told you that. While you might indeed assume that they're lying, and they really don't intend to pay you what they promised when you took the job, it's not unnatural to assume you are not, in fact, being lied to, and you can count on receiving what you were promised in exchange for your work. Remember, pensions are not a gift of some sort they're part of an employee's compensation package, just like yearly pay, vacation time, stock plans, and whatever else. They're something the employee is paying for and working for. When you're evaluating job offers, you look at the total package, not just some part of it. So, yes, you can assume your boss was lying and doesn't really intend to pay the pension he promised, just as you can assume your boss was lying and you'll only get half the salary you were promised, but it's not generally considered to be taking an unreasonable risk to expect one's employer is telling the truth.

        January 30, 2012 at 1:28 am |
      • schlammerhammer

        We can build a fair and equitable pension system for all but it has to be realistic. Take the Swiss for an instant. When you work in Switzerland you pay for SS ( required ) you pay into the private pension plan set up by the company ( 401K ) and you have the IRA on top of it. By the time one retires, one can get about 80 % of the pay which one earned during active working live. Now, when you have 80% of the salary form active live, one can retire nicely. To make this work takes discipline on part of the people, the Government and teh companies. We do not have that in America, we have major corruption going on on all levels. People do not save, companies cheat on teh 401 k and teh Government uses SS monies to pay for wars. If we had honest people, working honesly, we had no problem but we live in America which is corrupt from teh buttom up to the top. Sad but true when you cannogt rust your Government, but it is a fact.

        January 30, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • Worldwalker

      However, as Rome demonstrated so well and so painfully, all too often it's not a choice between a cluefull autocrat or a clueless democracy; it's a clueless (or totally insane; see: Caligula) autocrat in charge.

      Good autocrats, on one end of the spectrum, tend to transfer power to successors in the middle - those less good then themselves, because that's who there is. Bad autocrats, on the other end, don't have an equal chance of transferring power to anyone better than themselves, because they've killed anyone who might be a threat to them. Since merely not being another Nero is often enough to garner a lot of support from the citizens, that means pretty much anyone saner than they are. It is the nature of autocracies to tend to degenerate over time. I would not consider North Korea a good model for a country, or Baby Doc Duvalier a good choice in leaders.

      January 30, 2012 at 1:21 am | Reply
    • Dave

      There are those of us, who breathe the same air and drink the same water, that prefer less pollution. I am one of them. Until we can somehow magically pipe the pollutants to only your house I will strongly disagree with your viewpoint.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:47 am | Reply
  4. James Graham

    Ask a Muslm-What is an infidel?

    hope you will read this and then pass it on.
    WHAT'S AN INFIDEL ?
    This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well known leader in prison ministry.
    The man who walks with God always gets to his destination. If you have a pulse you have a purpose.

    The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion per capita in the United States, especially in the minority races!

    Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance.

    During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic,
    Protestant and Muslim faiths, who each explained their beliefs.
    I was particularly interested in what the Islamic had to say.

    The Muslim gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video.

    After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.
    When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Muslim and asked:
    'Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you
    give me the definition of an infidel?'

    There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, 'Non-believers!'
    I responded, 'So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill
    everyone who is not of your faith so they can have a place in heaven.
    Is that correct?'

    The expression on his face changed from one of authority
    and command to that of a little boy who had just been
    caught with his hand in the cookie jar.'
    He sheepishly replied, 'Yes.'
    I then stated, 'Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to
    imagine The Pope commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr.Stanley ordering all Protestants to do the same in order to guarantee them a place in heaven!'
    The Muslim was speechless!

    I continued, 'I also have a problem with being your friend
    when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me! Let me ask you a question:
    Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and He wants you to be there with me?'

    You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his
    head in shame.

    Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the
    'Diversification' training seminar were not happy with my way of dealing with the Islamic Imam, and exposing the truth about the Muslims' beliefs.

    In twenty years there will be enough Muslim voters in the
    U.S. to elect the President!

    I think everyone in the U.S. should be required to read this, but with the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely
    publicized, unless each of us sends it on! This is your chance to make a difference....

    (FOR CHRIST'S SAKE....SEND THIS ON . . .)
    Pastor Bonnie Yeager
    Aurand Memorial United Methodist Church
    217 West Main Street
    Ringtown, PA 17967
    and
    St. John's Kimmel's Church
    Deep Creek Road
    Ashland, PA 17921

    January 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Reply
    • Ted Ward

      Please put the video on You Tube.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Reply
      • WolfAK

        Actually, just google it.. I've heard it before, and it is well covered on snopes as distorted and re-written... With a well done counter-parody of christianity in it's place asking about putting people to death, per leviticus, for not honoring the sabbath, etc. It is a common chain mail , too.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • JAL

      Stop the non-sense.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
    • m

      I have a problem with you posting this on a story about economics. If you want your dribble online then create your own website for those that still believe in your silly little fairytales. That goes for all of the other versions of religion that are just as much a fairytale.

      By the way, the pope did order christians to kill muslims. It was called the Crusades. Maybe next time you should add some real world history to your fairytales.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Reply
      • - -

        That was 1400 years ago, you moron.

        January 30, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • Scott from NH

      Hmmm, whoever wrote this seems to have conveniently forgotten 400 years of the Inquisition and the most brutal torture the world has ever seen, directed at those who wouldn't convert, or the Christians of Germany killing 6 million Jews, or Protestants and Catholics blowing each other up in Northern Ireland, etc.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • Friend

      James, are you really not shamed to post this stupid agitation against muslims? Islam is a religion of peace, and please don`t be lazy to read proper books. Eventhough you are jewesh (Graham – jewesh surname) I have no problem neither with jewesh nor with other people of the world. Muslims, Jewesh, Christians etc. are all humans, who have the same right to be loved and equally treated in this world.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Reply
      • Mens sana

        Unfortunately, there may be moderate muslims but Islam is no moderate religion, the same way as the Old Testament expressed violence before the Gospels. The problems is that all monotheistic religions come from tribal cultures of the middle-oriental zones, and if they don't "refresh" and "upgrade" (as Christianity did), they will still be conceiving human relationships with the same tribal violence of thousand of years ago.

        January 30, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Scott from NH

      Friend, I don't know if James is Jewish or not, but I am. I've also been to Mosques (Masjid's) and spoken with many Muslims in Indonesia, Palestine, Malaysia, the Maldives, Egypt, etc. Not one Muslim has ever told me they believed that non Muslims should be killed! Most considered me a child of the book. And everyone treated me with kindness and respect. Clearly the number of Muslims who believe this is an incredibly tiny fraction.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Reply
    • 4sanity

      Well whatever you represent your self to be, you most definitely are not Christian. But that's not uncommon from "pastors" who THINK they speak from a position of authority. Your post is truely offensive but I commend you for identifying yourself for all to see. And by the way, the ACLU would protect your right to voice your opinion – so give them some slack. However, decent thinking people would just rightly ignore your attempt to spread bigotry and religious intolerance.

      There is certainly much to criticize about radicalism in Muslim communities, but to propagate this myth that Muslims are actively instructed by MOST Imans to kill "infidels" is pure baloney. There are currently >1 billion Muslims, second in mumber only to Christians. That there is strife and tension formented by a small percentage fraction on both sides spreading misinformation (please include yourself in this category) is not unexpected given that religions spawn bigoted zealots on a regular basis. There's always this "my GOD is better than your "god' (small capitals)" snobbery that tries to devalue someone's else's belief. In actuality MOST people have a healthy "live and let live" mentality.

      And if you what to take arcane Koranic verses out of context, I have a few Biblical quotes that could certainly hold their own in terms of barbarism and astounding lack of morality. So unless you want to accept and take ownership that a literal interpretation of God's word as laid out in the Bible actively condones slavery, gang ra pe, incest, genocide, infanticide and a host of other obnoxious practices, I suggest you spend some time to reflect and ask for Christ's guidance to steer you back to a path of humility and kindness towards your fellow man – even if they don't share YOUR personal religious convictions.

      It is certainly right to criticize and demand accountability from Islamic religious figures for inflammatory rhetoric and to enlist their help to promtoe tolerance and prevent radicalism from turning violent. You could do your part by doing the same.

      Signed,

      An atheist.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Reply
    • Edwin

      Personally, I doubt the address is genuine. Most likely, James is a troll and has a grudge against that particular church - so by posting inane comments, he can get the church a lot of nasty mail.

      January 30, 2012 at 12:01 am | Reply
    • Paul

      all a bunch all lies, this never happened .. u r making up to try making your ignorant and stereotypical biased ideas about Islam sound true, while they are made up and false.

      By the way: the crusade were exactly the same thing, were the Pope did indeed order to go kill any non Christian in the middle East, which is the truth.
      So, look in the mirror ...

      January 30, 2012 at 12:26 am | Reply
      • Antelope Tim

        The guy is an idiot and undoubtedly experienced this in some dark recess of his particularly small mind. On the other hand, you bring legitimacy to his statement when you compare it to the crusades.

        January 30, 2012 at 1:00 am |
      • Mike

        Actually the Pope did Not order to kill all non-christians. Muslims actually lived very well under Frankish rule in the Crusader states. The crusades were a defensive war meant to stop and push back centuries of muslim aggression and oppression on christian lands and peoples. Way to distort history. You need to read the real history of the crusades.

        January 30, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Alex

      Here you go another Christian nutjob. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are practically the same religions, just different variations. Muslims do not consider Christians and Jews infidels and our allowed to marry within. All these religions are over rated. If you are weak and need beliefs to get a hold of yourself, so you don't lie, cheat, or murder. I am all for it. just keep your crap to your self!

      January 30, 2012 at 1:07 am | Reply
    • schlammerhammer

      As Christians, we are not to give false witness. You just did. Why are you scared of Islam? Read the bible and trust in God because he is leading us. You should goofle La Read, the 40 christian principles instead of spreading fear.

      January 30, 2012 at 5:32 am | Reply
    • Vikki Petersen

      Mr. J. Graham the leader of the Imam-Muslim is a typical ordinary human and a son of GOD..If their practice is to kill the children of GOD to have a place in heaven is a complete understanding of the Koran's Faith. With so much religion,
      people can easily lure to kill just to be in HEAVEN,,,Just like the CULT people, they also killed, to be in heaven. No difference with the Muslim, if the Teaching was to Kill is their definition to get into Heaven or have a place there that is totally, INSANE..the practice is demonic.
      absurb

      January 30, 2012 at 7:15 am | Reply
  5. Dude

    Hey Joe, I like how Fareed Zakaria completely just exposed you as a liberal schill. You say "cutting pensions is NOT THE ONLY WAY" when in fact he mentions numerous reforms, but since you're so politically biased all you saw was the pensions. If you subsidize and protect people too much then you discourage exploration, this is common human knowledge.

    January 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  6. brown

    Get used to your new station in life!

    You will bow to your Chinese master or you will exist no more!

    hahahahaha!

    January 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Reply
    • schlammerhammer

      Itr is our own fault. Our politicians are selling us out every day. Why are Congressmen and Senators millionairs when tehy leave Washington? Yes, precisely tehy have betrade the people who voted them into office. Take Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader and former Speaker, made millions on insider trading and she is still in Washington on the payrol, flying home to CA every week on a Gov jet costing us taxpayers about 60000 a round trip. These are the people we need to get rid of. These are the people who destroy Amedrfica. Lets get rid of our politicians.

      January 30, 2012 at 5:38 am | Reply
  7. Jon

    Hrm. Wonder if China will someday be in the same boat?

    January 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Reply
    • Edwin

      Almost certainly. Their star is rising now, but it will eventually set. I hope whoever replaces them is from Africa - we haven't had a lot of World Powers from Africa in thousands of years...

      Or maybe if Global Warming is really bad, their replacement might be the tropical country of Antarctica...

      January 30, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply
      • Antelope Tim

        We are on the verge of social and medical changes that will allow vast population booms in Africa. Assuming that political landscape can change, you may not be too far off.

        January 30, 2012 at 1:02 am |
      • Patrick

        >we haven't had a lot of World Powers from Africa in thousands of years...

        And they’ve been around the longest. This should tell you something.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  8. karmaisabirch

    all the evil you inflict on others tend to catch up with you in good time.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Reply
    • - -

      Are you paying attention, Democraps?

      January 30, 2012 at 6:21 am | Reply
  9. Steven Grapperhaus

    "With its debt at 211% of its GDP, if the cost of its borrowing increases, Tokyo would face an even greater crisis: A default."

    So, you've failed to consider that almost all this debt is domestically held?

    January 30, 2012 at 12:25 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      You're right Steven. It has to do with the high savings and patriotism of the people, who bought government bonds.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:31 am | Reply
    • John Doe

      If your father was a C-141 pilot, give me a call. Important information about his death. (817) 831-2080.

      March 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  10. Hanuman Capital

    Reblogged this on Hanuman Capital.

    January 30, 2012 at 12:56 am | Reply
  11. mmi16

    Why does it seem that one of the first thing anyone wants to do at times of economic stress is to 'Cut Pensions' to those that have worked and are working their lifetimes away to earn them. Time to cut your income & pension Mr. Zakaria!

    January 30, 2012 at 1:55 am | Reply
  12. jackinbox

    The ideal of the East is not democracy but meritocracy. I think the Chinese are trying to implement an authoritarian meritocracy now. It can supress the special interest groups on the one hand and limit the power of the leader using tools such as term limits.

    They have one party that has all kinds of people inside. We have two parties that fight over the favors of noisy interest groups to the degree of starting wars, changing marriage, and managing people's wombs. Maybe China needs more democracy but we need more meritocracy.

    January 30, 2012 at 1:59 am | Reply
  13. pm

    Did anyone ever expect them to grow infinitely? The US will go through the same balancing out eventually...

    January 30, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
    • - -

      Spoken like a true liberal retard.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:21 am | Reply
      • cabotool

        Spoken like a right wing fool who only thinks of the 1 %. Even if he is one of the 99% in money. HE watches Faux News. But he is probably poorly enough educated that he doesn't know that "faux" means fake!

        January 30, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  14. Danny Chau

    If only the world knows that we don't even need money in order to survive, that money was created for control. There is enough abundance in our world for all, we never need to compete or to fight for survival if the powers that be releases the technology and it's evil and greedy lust for control.

    There are thousands of hidden advance technologies that could change humanity for good, our world is at best a prison planet, wake up and don't believe the indoctrination that you have been feed with since your birth. You are a soul spirit and you are a free sovereign being with you own free will, let no one to have any power over you.

    The politician have no interest in your well being except for his or her own, they are also the pawns for the people in control who pulling all the strings, they are just a puppet working for their masters. The truth is that you are all gods, comes from the single cosmic consciousness that get yourself lost in the game of your own construction, the duality existence we know is but a pale reflection of our great powerful being, time to wake up folks!

    January 30, 2012 at 3:26 am | Reply
    • Jeremy

      So you want them to release the technologies? Ok. Who created those technologies? And why did they? Would they have done it had they not been paid? You say there is enough abundance on earth for everyone. But the abundance needs to be harvested, refined, distributed. Who is going to do that, and are they going to do it for everyone with no compensation of any sort? No. Your view is very naive. I'd also like some proof of all these hidden technologies that aren't being released. I have no doubt some companies hold back on releases for profit, but it's nothing superextraordinary that they're holding back on. Just delaying the next product for a while.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:08 am | Reply
    • cabotool

      You remind me of the people who spoke of the 100 mpg carburetors that the oil companies and Detroit had bought up and were hiding. I am 76 years old and I have been a scientist all of my life. I was the first student to ever enter Stanford University without finishing high school. I worked as a staff scientist for Motorola for ten years. When I realized that Motorola only wanted money and had no thought of doing anything new and creating new products... I left and for 42 years I have been a farmer. I look at the world from a reasoned point of view and I predict that our civilization will crash within a few years. People like you are part of the problem because your hope for "hidden technologies" stands in the way of reforming our energy, food and economic distribution systems which is our ONLY chance to survive. You may live long enough to see your children starving. At 76, I am reasonably certain that I will see that day, if fools like you are in the majority.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:44 am | Reply
  15. Steven Grapperhaus

    j. von hettlingen - what I meant is, when you're the government, and all the debt is held by your own people, how can you actually default?

    Either way Zakaria is a moron.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:56 am | Reply
  16. JohnHolmes

    Does this mean we will be left with only crappy American cars?

    January 30, 2012 at 5:40 am | Reply
    • - -

      Pickups, too.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:20 am | Reply
  17. non sense

    Fareed, you have to give up being the prophet of doom, over the years I have seen you become increasingly pessimistic. You should try and change and look at things from a different angle, there is plenty in what you have written, that in my mind qualifies as a positive change.

    Having a pension, a high quality of life, is no sin. Overall, the human race has not seen better times all over the planet.

    January 30, 2012 at 5:42 am | Reply
    • cabotool

      Extreme high quality of life for some and too high a quality of life for many spells doom for us all. We are almost out of usable oil (we will destroy our environment in trying to extract the last bit of oil) When I came to my farm 42 years ago, diesel fuel was 18 cents a gallon. Today it is 20 times that. To me... this proves that we are almost out of oil.) and our food and transportation systems depend on oil. We are merrily speeding forward to a cliff with the deep sea beyond.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
  18. schlammerhammer

    Watch T. Geithner devalue the US dollar before he leaves office. He will shrink the US debt by 50% and our dollars will be worth 50% less overnight. This will happen in 2012. He will be thed new CEO of Goldman Sachs and laugh at us dummies.

    January 30, 2012 at 5:44 am | Reply
  19. toogaloom

    Fareed Zakaria is one of the media's great assets. His essays always rise above partisan and national bickering to the bigger global picture.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:14 am | Reply
    • - -

      Fareed Zakaria is an Obama cheerleader. In his own country they would lop off his head and throw his body in a ditch and say Allah told them to do it.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:16 am | Reply
      • toogaloom

        This is such a sad post. I wish people could rise above their bigotry and discuss the complexity of issues. Our children deserve better.

        January 30, 2012 at 6:21 am |
      • badcafe

        Idiotic comment as always... Fareed is from India, a vibrant democracy with no extremist ties, and a history that is much more tolerant than you can ever hope to see.

        January 30, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  20. - -

    test

    January 30, 2012 at 6:15 am | Reply
  21. - -

    OBAMA AND OCCUPY WALL STREET ARE A DISASTER.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:15 am | Reply
  22. - -

    Obama and the lost American decade.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:20 am | Reply
  23. Robert Smith

    Fareed Zakaria is as usual one of CNNs most interesting commentators. Despite that, the most interesting – yet obvious and not new – conclusion is the fact that democracy comes with disadvantages. A dictatorship that really do care about its people and country has obvious advantages to democracy. China is the most obvious case in point. "Human rights" may be broken, but for the great majority of Chinese, China's government is working consciously and diligently towards a better China and improvements for its people.

    The major problem is of course that there is no guarantee that a dictatorship will serve its people also in the future. Indeed, countless dictatorships have ended up being horrible oppressors, not serving their people, and if no democracy, who will decide who is going to be in power – and with what right? Make no mistake, I am all for democracy.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:48 am | Reply
  24. woodrow

    This is a side effect of the global economy. Trade deficits are what drives unemployment and depressed wages.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:57 am | Reply
  25. ab77

    Must be Obama's fault. The world is ending...

    January 30, 2012 at 7:21 am | Reply
  26. SallyinChicago

    Sounds like the U.S. doesn't it?

    January 30, 2012 at 7:29 am | Reply
  27. JJ

    Economics based on continual growth, growth of consumption and population growth is bound to fail. Take the case where a family divides up its land with each generation, eventually the family members have less and less land to produce goods and hence a general decline. How is this different than basing an economy on a countries population growth and finite resources?

    We don't like to accept this reality because we can't blame someone else for the changes we don't want to accept!!!!!!

    January 30, 2012 at 7:42 am | Reply
  28. Ben

    Fareed, is there anything you can't do or don't know everything about? CNN, either you are trying to cram this loser down America's throat or you've got nothing else to offer.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:46 am | Reply
    • Jugmug Singh

      Correct prognosis.

      February 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  29. David

    Not to mention all of the destruction caused by Godzilla every stinkin year.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:59 am | Reply
  30. James

    Democracy has been a monumental failure. The petty concerns of special interest groups are proof of this. We should adopt the Chinese system of government. Then we will have growth again.

    January 30, 2012 at 8:03 am | Reply
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