Wednesday, August 19, 2009

About wealth in China & India

The ten most valuable companies (in terms of market capitalization) are
(see my separate post on this here)

1. PetroChina (China)
2. Exxon Mobil (US)
3. Ind & Comm Bank of China (China)
4. China Mobile (China)
5. Microsoft (US)
6. Wal-Mart (US)
7. China Constr Bank (China)
8. Johnson & Johnson (US)
9. Proctor & Gamble (US)
10. Royal Dutch Shell (UK/NL)

Now look at the list of the ten wealthiest persons in the world (Source Wikipedia)

1. Bill Gates (US)
2. Warren Buffett (US)
3. Carlos Slim (Mexico)
4. Larry Ellison (US)
5. Ingvar Kamprad (Sweden)
6. Karl Albrecht (Germany)
7. Mukesh Ambani (India)
8. Lakshmi Mittal (India)
9. Theo Albrecht (Germany)
10. Amancio Ortega (Spain)

These two lists say something about China, and India.

China dominates the first list; a sign of the times. However it is completely absent from the second list , upto the Top 100 ! India does not figure in the first list anywhere, even in the top 100. But a number of Indians are on the second 100 list. Some readings from this

- Most of China’s business remain predominantly state owned. Conventional wisdom states that state ownership of business rarely succeeds. China has proved over the last 20 years that it is a shining exception

- In China its OK to be rich. But its not OK to be stinkingly rich ! For being super rich means accumulating power, which is a no no in China

- In India its not OK to be rich. But its OK to be stunningly rich. It’s a paradox, which is hard to understand

- India is growing largely by individual initiative. China is growing largely by state intervention. A sweeping statement that is riddled with holes, but broadly true

- Disparity of wealth, while existing is both countries, is less in China than in India. Average is higher, but extremes are lower in China

- There are, of course, very wealthy people in China. But they tend to hide their wealth; not flaunt it.

As a complete aside, I am amazed to see only 2 Japanese in the top 100 wealthy people. Even more than the rise of China, what amazes me is the decline of Japan. For those who predict endless growth of China, perhaps this is a sobering thought. In the 70s and 80s, Japan could do no wrong. Look where it is now.