April 13, 2006 at 4:46 PM #6484
When America was the growing Economy, students all over the world learned English. I think America’s glory days are dwindling.
China will be the new economy, and wealthy New Yorkers are paying Chinese nannies between $60K – $100K annually, so their children can grow up speaking Mandarin.
In this recent CNN video, commodities investment guru Jim Rogers, author of Hot Commodities, features his nanny with his 3-yr-old daughter. He says the little girl speaks mandarin better than english.
High schools are picking up on the trend, too. Last year, 50,000 high school student studied mandarin.
I am on the bandwagon. My kids and I are starting mandarin lessons next week, from fellow forum participant “hs”.
This is related to housing, you ask? Yes, because America was the great economy at one time. We are growing at 4% annually, China is growing at 19% annually.
The decline of the housing bubble is the pin that breaks the camel’s back. Look to China for your economic future. Do your kids a favor and let them learn mandarin.
Did I miss anything? Any opposition, agreement, counter points, further thoughts?April 13, 2006 at 5:03 PM #24198
Yes and 15 years ago it was Japanese. So are we that insecure about our dominance of world finance? The commies have a long way to go before they surpass us in any meaningful manner, oh and a bloody civil war or two to avoid.
JoshApril 13, 2006 at 6:31 PM #24206BugsParticipant
I learned Mandarin almost 30 years ago and other than being able to order in some of the restaurants and follow along with “Crouching Tiger – Hidden Dragon” without most of the English subtitles it’s done me no (economic) good whatsoever.
There are reasons why English is the dominant language of business and other languages like French and Japanese aren’t. Verbalized Chinese has an extremely limited number of syllables, so to “produce” new vocabulary they either have to adopt it outright from another language (“sofa” is an example), or string a bunch of existing characters together. The chinese word for “thermostat” is 5 characters long.
It’s not like learning Mandarin would make you an insider there. A native would still be able to slip into their home dialect if they didn’t want you listening in and there are literally dozens of those in regular use.
Spoken Mandarin is more pleasant for me to listen to than Cantonese or Hakka or Vietnamese or Japanese, but I’m sure that’s just a personal preference. In my ear, spoken Mandarin tends to be more melodic and moderately paced – there’s a lot less tendency to slur or mumble because the tones are so much more distinct. Not as distinct as what you’d hear at the operas but still pretty clear.
I would advocate learning Mandarin if you or your kids were considering living there or doing a LOT of business there. Otherwise, I think Spanish is still going to have more application here in the U.S. Much easier to learn, too (similar linguistic and cultural roots). The overseas Chinese will invariably assimilate and learn English. Not every group shares that priority.
Just my opinion.April 14, 2006 at 12:16 AM #24211FarlsParticipant
Speaking of China…I believe they are feeling the pain of an over-cooked housing market right now. Their bubble has started to pop. I saw something recently on tv about the Beijing market and how it was in the tank. (Sorry I don’t have more specifics about it.) Powayseller…you are great at research..maybe you could find a good article on it?
FarlsApril 14, 2006 at 6:13 AM #24212hsParticipant
It is interesting to read all of your intelligent discussion here and I have learned a lot from you.
Just a quick point of view from a native Chinese about the Chinese housing market.
The housing price definitely is imbalanced there compared to their average income. The Government is trying to cool down the market, but I don’t know how effective it is so far since there are 1.3 billion people living there, and also lots of overseas investment pouring in.(The Chinese living overseas are sending their US$ back home to invest.) I heard big cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai cooled down a big last year, but it is heating up again, especially office buildings. Most people in China think their housing market will and should go down because most people basically cannot afford it. The rich people are extremely rich there, but poor people are terribly poor, too. Politically they are still communists, but economically they are doing capitalism. It is good to see China is developing fast, but on the other hand, it is sad to see more and more people are losing morals. All they know is $$ signs in their eyes.
BTW, my Chinese class is open to whoever is interested in learning Manderin or Chinese culture. If you or your kids or friends are interested in learning, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].April 14, 2006 at 8:20 AM #24214lindismithParticipant
HS I might take you up on your lessons. I’m in manufacturing, and just started producing offshore about 2 years ago. (I only produce about 3% offshore, but I expect that to grow.) The first time I went to the mainland to inspect the factory, I was stunned that the factory managers didn’t speak a lick of English! (But then I realized I didn’t speak a lick of Chinese. Ignoramus Deluxe, you might call me.) I could immediately see the benefit of being able to at least greet each other, and make small talk. I took Spanish in high school and college, and it has served me well; I’m sure learning Mandarin (or another dialect – which one to pick?) would be the same.
I would also add that if the American economy slows down, it will definitely impact the Chinese economy too, as they are so dependent on us buying their products. And thusly, (to borrow a word from Bugs,) I’d expect the demand for Chinese language to slow down also.
One last interesting tidbit: my Agent in Taiwan predicts there’s probably only 10 years of cheap labor left in China. That speaks to how fast their economy is growing! After that we can all say good-bye to cheap products on the shelves of Wal*mart. Where cheap labor will come from after that is anyone’s guess.April 14, 2006 at 8:43 AM #24215hsParticipant
I am glad you are interested in learning Chinese. As you may have known, there are many many different dialects in China, but Mardarin is the official language. If you have business in China, definitely I will encourage you to learn their language and culture. It will benifit you a lot.Most people don’t speak English in China, but more and more young people are learning English.
You are pretty brave that you went there to do the business without speaking Chinese. How did you handle everything while you were there? Did you have an interpreter?
I live in Scripps Ranch. if you are seriously thinking about learning Mardarin, you are welcome to join my class. please contact me at [email protected]April 14, 2006 at 9:02 AM #24216
How could I resist with smooth talk like that 🙂
There was a housing bubble, but the government has been straight up in telling people about it, issued bubble busting policies and is purchasing/converting unfinished condo buildings.
If you want more details, read on.
The housing bubble, in which prices doubled in 3 years, was mainly confined to Shanghai and other large cities. Speculators purchased about 40% of condos. As prices rose, the government stepped in with policies to squash the fevor. They initiated a flipper 5% capital gains tax, a 5.5% capital gains tax on profits, increased down payment requirements from 20% to 30%, and raised the mortgage rate from 5% to 5.5%. The 121 policy requires developers to have 30% of their own money in the project (China Daily article). Now, with prices down about 30%, many people are upside down on their mortgages, and suing the developers! Since spring, 3000 brokerage offices closed. Houses did not see the run-up of condoes, and have not been impacted in the downturn. Concerns remain for the fallout in the banking sector. Unlike the US, many Chinese economists admit the bubble and the extent of the fallout. Three years ago, a senior economist Justin Lin warned that a RE bubble supported by bank loans may turn into a banking crisis. How’s that for straight talk?
In the island province Hainan, the government purchased half of the of the 165-million-sq-ft of unfinished condo units, and will convert them to low-income housing. This will burst the housing bubble, provide social assistance, and reduce the blight of unfinished construction.
China’s housing market cooled off somewhat after government policy which constrained financing. Still, only 30% of urban households can afford a condo. In March, the lower-end housing heated up, and the government has not tried to stop it. The policy shift is because they hope the RE industry can stimulate domestic consumption. At the same time, they remain concerned about bad loans, which tripled last year to $194million. So they are walking a tightrope in their policy. But unlike the US, they are actively managing RE pricing.
Chongqing’s property market right now is a lot like Hangzhou’s five or six years ago, only without the same kind of bubble Hangzhou went through,Hangzhou, and its close neighbor Shanghai, came under the spotlight for rampant property speculation that sent prices soaring. Beijing responded with a raft of cooling steps, including levying capital gains taxes on homes resold within a short period and higher down payment requirements. Ye thinks Chongqing will be spared a similar fate because its market took off after the lessons from Shanghai had been learned.April 15, 2006 at 8:50 AM #24244
I made my comment about the commies to highlight very briefly the differences in our two economic systems. In some ways the Chinese are capitalits, but even those come with huge asterisks.
JoshApril 15, 2006 at 8:53 AM #24246
China is not the last cheap labor market. From that comment you would think you never heard of Vietnam, PI, or the “Dark Continent.”
JoshApril 15, 2006 at 11:33 AM #24249daveljParticipant
“america’s glory days are dwindling” because no one stays on top forever and success breeds lethargy. so, yes, china has certainly become an economic force to be reckoned with.
having said that, for our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes the u.s. will continue to be THE dominant economic force on this planet. why? our risk-taking entrepreneurial culture is like nothing else on earth and is the real engine that drives the global economy. it’s no coincidence that silicon valley and wall street (and many others) dominate their respective global competitors in innovation and efficiency.
sure, china’s overall economy is growing very rapidly. but that’s what happens when you have a huge population (1.2 billion vs. 300 million here) and you’re starting from a very low base of per capita GDP. china’s grown at an annual rate of 9% (real) since 1978 but it’s per capita GDP is still only $1,200 (versus $38,000 here in the u.s.). also, as china’s economy gets larger it will run into the law of large numbers and a negative second derivative – that is, it will grow at a decreasing rate.
don’t get me wrong – china’s a powerhouse in the making and if you want to learn mandarin, it certainly can’t hurt. but english will continue to be the language of global commerce and not only that, it will become MORE so as each year passes – the momentum of using english around the globe is too strong at this point to reverse. mandarin will be the language for chinese businesses that don’t want to deal with “outsiders” – for better or worse.
frankly, if you’re going to have your kids learn a language, i’d have your kids learn spanish. there are 600 million people in latin america, we already have free trade agreements with many latin american countries, geographically latin america’s closer, and culturally they’re more similar to most americans than are the chinese (who have a fairly provincial culture when it comes to non-chinese). also, while latin america isn’t growing as fast as china, it’s growing much faster than the u.s. and has 3x china’s per capita GDP.
a general rule of thumb is that if wealthy new yorkers are doing it, it’s probably the result of some neurosis – these are the same people that spend a disproportionate part of their lives making sure that their (soon to be maladjusted neurotic) kids get into the right PRESCHOOL, for christ’s sake. i’ll take the other side of that trade. if they’re so inclined, my kids will learn spanish.April 15, 2006 at 12:44 PM #24253
China is a greater economic powerhouse than Mexico. Look at the differences in infrasture, transportation, communication, education.
I thought of another advantage to learning Mandarin yesterday: on the college application, it will make you stand out. Anything to be different sure helps these days.
I think learning Spanish is also a great idea, because any language you speak gives you the power to connect to more people. Last summer, my kids bought software to learn Swahili.
I hope you’re right about the US continuing to be the economic powerhouse. We need to pay down the national debt and the trade deficit to stay in that position. Our spot as the world’s largest debtor nation is worrisome, and could cause us to lose our premier spot. If foreigners were not lending us billions of dollars every day, our interest rates would be much higher.April 15, 2006 at 1:38 PM #24254lindismithParticipant
Actually I have heard of most places in the world, but even manufacturers producing in Vietnam, Thailand and Korea have moved production to China, as the labor is cheapest there. The tech world is a little different, but manufacturing is concentrated in China for a good reason. As for the Dark Continent, I grew up there, and I can tell you it will never be a viable player because it does not have the infrastructure nor the stability. Not in our lifetimes anyway.
Am not sure where PI is, Josh.
I agree with the comments about English continuing to dominate the world business market, but it sure helps to know what a factory manager is saying in Chinese when I’m negotiating something.April 15, 2006 at 3:24 PM #24255daveljParticipant
i was talking about latin america as a whole in my previous post – i never mentioned mexico specifically. mexico is not the only country for which spanish is the primary language, and in case you aren’t aware we are in the process of ratifying free trade agreements with other latin american countries besides mexico (CAFTA, for example). while mexico and china are about equal trading partners with the u.s., latin america as a whole is a larger trading partner than china. also, u.s. direct investment in latin america dwarfs that of china. put simply, latin america will be equally if not more important than china to the u.s. economy for many decades.
since you brought it up, where mexico specifically is concerned, china is a greater economic power than mexico solely due to its larger population (1.2 billion in china versus 110 million in mexico). mexico’s per capita gdp is over 8x that of china ($10,000 vs. $1,200). outside its major cities, china is a poverty-stricken wasteland, while mexico is just merely poverty stricken (outside its major metropolitan areas, that is). china’s educational system is better than mexico’s, but mexico’s infrastructure, transportation and communication systems are all ahead of china’s when you look at both countries AS A WHOLE (as opposed to just comparing shanghai with guadalajara, for example). i’m curious… how much time have you spent in mexico and china?
again, i’m not knocking mandarin, but you have to keep the current “china hype” in perspective.
finally, if learning mandarin is what will make the incremental difference in your kids’ college applications then perhaps there are other issues that need to be addressed. anyhow, getting into the “right” college is dramatically over-rated in the whole scheme of one’s career and life. just a thought.April 15, 2006 at 7:32 PM #24259
Thanks for your insights.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.