Dambisa Moyo is an economist and the award-winning author of "Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working." Her latest work is "Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World."
She was interviewed by
Q: What is the central thesis of your new book, "Winner Take All"?
Dambisa Moyo: The book basically looks at how supply and demand for commodities are going to shape the future. On the demand side we have a rapidly increasing population, from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2100; an unprecedented rate of economic development and global wealth whereby the emerging markets will deliver 3 billion new people into the middle class; and finally, a massive rate of urbanization. These three factors are and will continue to strain commodity resources. On the supply side, there simply is not enough land, water, energy and minerals to support these trends.
This competition for scarce resources is manifesting itself in higher commodity prices, which have increased 150 percent since 2009, and armed conflict. There have been about 25 wars the origins of which can be traced to commodities.
Q: Who will be the winners and losers in this competition?
First, they are investing in what I call the Axis of the Unloved -- underdeveloped economies which have traditionally been overlooked by the Western developed countries as investment destinations.
Second, they are making themselves the go-to buyer.
Finally, they have become a monopsonist -- the key buyer of a particular commodity, such as copper and coal -- which means they can set the prices.
Q: So could the underdeveloped countries in the axis be among the winners, finally bringing these formerly marginalized economies into the globalized world?
DM: I hope so, but it will take a change in attitude by Western developed countries.
Q: How will the competition for scarce resources impact relations East and West in the 21st century?
DM: There is a battle of philosophies under way between the U.S model, with democracy as a political ethos and private capitalism as its economic platform, and the Chinese model of authoritarianism and state capitalism. The emerging economies are the spectators to the battle, watching to see which model can best deliver economic growth. Democracy and private capitalism will be a harder sell when
Q: You refer to the "legal vacuum" in which
DM: Despite the urgency and concerns around commodities scarcity, there is no global governance institution focused solely on commodities. We actually need a new institution where the full mandate is the effective management of scarce resources. I am not a believer in more bureaucracy as the answer, but we need a new institution for two reasons. First, the others have their mandates and this cannot be a priority for them. Secondly, they are legacy organizations which, in structure and attitude, are still in the 20th century.
We need a new organization that acknowledges the massive transformations under way, treats all countries as equal citizens -- both those who have the resources and those who want them -- and doesn't take for granted that Western-style democracy is going to be the dominant paradigm of the future.
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