In 2025, the Center of the Global Economy Will Be Back Where it Was in 1 AD

Author and Academic
What will the global economy look like in 2025? Dr. James Manyika runs through several likely shifts from our current situation, led by the undeniable rise of East Asia. Manyika, who is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute, explains how a new form of urbanization in emerging markets will punctuate global progress leading into the 2030s. Most people aren't familiar with cities like Tianjin and Komatsu, but the evolution of these and other dense, bustling East Asian metropolises will shape business and technology moving forward. Manyika is co-author of the new book No Ordinary Disruption.
  • Transcript


James Manyika:  The center of gravity of the global economy is actually shifting east and south to some extent. In fact what’s interesting about that is that if you actually tried to do a center of gravity analysis, you’ll actually find that the center of gravity of the global economy by 2025 will actually be somewhere in East Asia is where it will be. And what’s interesting about that is that that’s where it was in about year 1 A.D. So in fact in some ways it’s a return back to where the center of gravity used to be. So you’ve got that big geographic shift happening. Associated with that same geographic shift is actually another shift, which is in some ways even more interesting which is the rise in importance of cities and urbanization.

I think for the first time we’re going to see the majority of humanity live in cities in ways that are way more profound than we’ve ever seen before. In fact if you actually look at the global economy through the lens of cities, you see a few different things. One, you see that, for example, between now and the year 2025, something like two-thirds of the global economy and the growth of the global economy is going to be led by about 600 cities. And that’s a very finite number. I mean 600 cities in the grand scheme of things is not a very large number. And of those 600 cities something like 440 of them are actually in emerging countries.

Most people haven’t heard of cities like Komatsu, Tianjin, Honshu. So there’s a lot of cities on that list in the global economy that are quite extraordinary. And, by the way, this rise in urbanization is interesting because, you know, we’ve actually been adding something the equivalent of if you like six Chicagos every year to the global economy, to just the sheer scale of this urbanization trend. We know that people are wealthier on average when they move into cities. We know that cities as economic engines are actually more productive because of that density. We also know now, as a result also of other things like technology, that some of the most interesting innovations and business models and models are actually happening inside cities. So it’s no surprise that the vast majority of some of the trends we’re seeing whether it’s the Ubers or the Airbnbs and all these kinds of new interesting models all happen in dense urban environments. So cities are actually a very interesting place and I think we haven’t thought enough about them as sort of engines of economic growth and performance.