Major capitalist countries

USA, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Canada (they are also called the Big Seven). These countries lead the world in terms of economic, scientific and technological potential, total GDP, the most diversified economies, and the largest human potential.  These countries account for about 70% of the world’s industrial output, all foreign direct investment.

The first place among the “big seven” is occupied by the United States, which controls the most significant part of the capitalist world economy and plays a decisive role in it.

The competition between the leading countries, which intensified by the mid-80s, revealed three opposing centers: the United States, Western European countries that occupied “defensive” positions, and Japan  (“advancing” positions in the markets of mass consumer goods).

It was Japan that turned out to be the main rival of the United States and the EU in these years. By the mid-80s, it provided 82% of the world’s production of motorcycles, 80.7% of the production of home video systems and about 66% of photocopier equipment. Japanese companies took a dominant position in the American market of numerically controlled machine tools. Between 1973 and 1986, the U.S. share of world production of goods and services fell from 23.1 to 21.4 percent, the EU’s from 25.7 percent to 22.9 percent, and Japan’s from 7.2 percent to 7.7 percent. The consequence of this process was the deterioration of the positions of American companies. If in 1971 280 of the 500 largest TNCs were American, by 1991 only 157 remained. By this time, Japan had actually caught up with the United States, possessing 345 of the largest companies, despite the fact that in the EU countries there were 17, and in North America – only 5; 9 of the 10 largest service companies also represented Japan. In the late ’80s, Japan’s economic miracle demonstrated how far a country using the industrial paradigm could go, surrounded by neighbors belonging to the post-industrial world.

However, Japanese manufacturers, fascinated by the quantitative indicators of their success in the field of industrialization, did not take into account a number of other factors.

First, although the terms of trade of the United States with the rest of the world in the 80s.

Having deteriorated seriously (the price level of American exports fell by more than 20 per cent between 1970 and 1990 relative to the level of prices for imported goods), the United States continued to receive most of its imports from countries close to its own level of development, so that the resulting trade deficit was not irreversible. In addition, the American companies themselves, which reduced industrial employment in the United States and moved jobs abroad, made a significant contribution to the growth of the deficit, in this case quite formal (it is known, for example, that ibm, using 18 thousand employees in Japan and having annual sales of $ 6 billion, has become one of the leading Japanese exporters of computer equipment since the beginning of the 90s, including in the United States). This factor had and has a much greater importance than the one that is usually attached to it. If in 1985 Japan exported goods to the United States for $ 95 billion, and bought only $ 45 billion, this did not mean the huge gap that politicians and economists often talk about. In the same year, American companies produced and sold goods in Japan for $ 55 billion, while the corresponding figure for Japanese firms in the United States did not exceed $ 20 billion. and if you take into account the payments of Japanese companies for American copyrights and patents, then virtually absent altogether.

Secondly, Japanese producers fed themselves a positive balance of their trade balance with the United States in much the same way as oil suppliers did during the period of high inflation in 1977-1980 Analyzing the process of formation of trade imbalance between countries, it is impossible not to see that such actually did not exist in 1980, but already in 1981 it reached $ 36 billion, in 1982 – 67 billion, and in 1983 exceeded 113 billion dollars. What happened during this period and what was the main reason for this situation? The answer to this question is very simple: the most important factor in the growth of American imports and the stagnation of exports was the unprecedented increase in the exchange value of the dollar against the “basket” of major world currencies – only between mid-1979 and the first quarter of 1985 it was 73%. Under these conditions, it was quite natural both to increase the consumption of imported goods in the United States and to reduce the ratio of the volume of exports of American goods to the total volume of their production in all commodity items without exception.

Japanese strategists did not take into account two circumstances: the fact that the strengthening of the dollar is explained by the temporary difficulties of the American economy and therefore cannot be  prolonged; and the fact that, as long as settlements are conducted in dollars, the United States has no foreign trade in the proper sense of the word, and the problem of “restoring” the balance sheet is solved by organizing a speculative attack against the dollar, devaluing the funds received by exporters from the sale of their goods to the United States.

As soon as the situation in the American economy began to normalize, interest rates began to decline, and with it the fall of the dollar in world markets; in a year and a half, its rate fell by more than 25%, and by February 1987 it had “won back” almost four-fifths of its previous unprecedented increase. As a result, from mid-1986 to mid-1988, U.S. exports grew by more than a third, and the trade deficit narrowed by 40 percent. The trends that emerged in these years actually eliminated the deficit in US trade with European countries, and the depreciation of the dollar by another 15-20% would ensure a complete overcoming of the trade deficit with Japan. The difficulties of the 80s seriously disoriented US competitors, who, convinced of the attractiveness of the American market, strengthened their presence on it, primarily in the field of distribution and trade and preferred to abandon the creation of production capacities. This can be seen when comparing American and Japanese indicators in the field of export of finished products and the transfer of production abroad. If in 1988 the total volume of Japanese exports was only 20% lower than the American, the scale of sales of Japanese goods produced abroad lagged behind the same indicator of American companies by almost four times, and the sale of goods through Japanese trade conglomerates created abroad was twice as large as through American ones. As a result, the total volume of U.S. goods exported from or produced abroad was almost twice that of Japan; Thus, against the background of unprecedented formal successes of the Japanese, American manufacturers managed to seriously revise the previous guidelines, which became the key to their success in the 90s.

At the end of the twentieth century, it became obvious that Japan lagged far behind the United States in the effective use of the achievements of the information revolution. So, by the mid-90s. cable networks were connected to 80% of American homes and only 12% of Japanese; in the United States, 233 personal computers were used per 1,000 people; in Germany and England – about 150, while in Japan – 80; e-mail was used by 64% of Americans, between 31 and 38% of the population of Western Europe, and only 21% of Japanese.

In the early 90s, the world market for software products was controlled by American companies by 57%, and their share exceeded the Japanese one by more than three times. In the mid-90s, the United States restored equality with Japan in the microchip production market.

Thus, in the new conditions, the most important direction in the evolution of the Western world as a whole and the seven developed countries, among other things, was the formation of a post-industrial civilization as an integral system. The possibilities of including Japan in it at the end of the twentieth century were significantly narrowed due to the fact that the paradigm of economic growth professed by this country is inherently inadequate to the values of the post-industrial system. Japan, having failed to win the information and technological competition with the United States, moved to a defensive position.

Japanese entrepreneurs and political leaders are confident in the possibility of restoring their economic power through expansion in Asia. However, this position led to the fact that Japan itself by the end of the twentieth century.  rolled far back compared to the mid-80s.

Taking into account the fact that the development of the “Quaternary sector” was inevitable to lead to a deep crisis of the traditional industrial model, a possible task facing the “Big Seven” and other highly developed countries in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is to reduce the industrial sector of the economy and redistribute economic power in a way that corresponds to the already realized redistribution of both technological and intellectual potential between the main the centers of the modern world are the USA, Western Europe and Japan.