I was asked again the other day what the “theme” of this blog is. It can sometimes seem like a collection of rambling musings on the world. Well…
Besides being just that, it is really the place that the network at TomorrowToday.biz put all their musings on the world. This is part of what we do at TomorrowToday – we track societal trends, trying to spot patterns and identify futures and scenarios.
Every now and again, we get glimpses of how major forces combine to shape societies and destinies globally. One such thought hit me today, and it brings together things we say around retiring Boomers, globalisation, governments, investment opportunities, emerging markets, and much more. Its a simple, yet profound thought.

Europe and the USA have promised their pensioners remarkable amounts of money. Their governments do not have enough cash to make these payments. As the Baby Boomers (born 1946 and later) start to retire, this cash crunch will start to hurt. Besides raising taxes, the only other way to get the cash required will be to reduce other government expenditure. The most obvious place to do this is in subsidies paid by these governments.
There is increasing pressure from world bodies for these governments to get rid of agricultural subsidies in particular. It would seem to be a fairly obvious and easy decision to make, to deal with increasing pension payment issues and increasing world market pressures in one stroke of the pen. And dismantle agricultural subsidies. Not such a nice future for farmers who have come to rely on these subsidies for their livelihood, as many have.
This will work perfectly for those emerging market countries that have “spare” agricultural land and capacity (like South Africa, Brazil and China), but currently simply cannot compete on the international stage because of the subsidies in Europe and the USA in particular. With subsidies reduced, these countries will find agricultural exports to be more viable, and will in turn receive huge boosts to their economies. A rosy future indeed, if they’re geared up for it.
Interestingly all three of these emerging market countries mentioned are experimenting extensively with genetically modified crops, which may then hinder their access to the markets that will open up. Or, they need to start working now to ensure they change public perceptions about GM.
So, yes, a middle manager retiring in Dresden, Germany does have an impact on a maize farmer in Bloemfontein, South Africa. It might not quite be butterfly’s wings causing hurricanes, but it is nevertheless a global chain of events that is upon us now.

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