The developing world is poised to become a major player in global investment. The World Bank says in fewer than 20 years half the global stock of capital will be in developing countries. That compares to about one-third today. The bank has released the latest edition of its Global Development Horizons report.
The World Bank forecasts, by 2030, “developing countries’ share in global investment is projected to triple” to nearly 160-trillion dollars. Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President Kaushik Basu said that “demographic changes will profoundly influence structural shifts.”
“Population will increase from the current roughly seven billion to eight-point-five billion at the end of 2030. Some societies will be well advanced in the process of aging. The demographic bulge in different countries will progress at different paces. And the big question that should concern us all is what will happen to the major drivers of growth and development, namely savings and investment – and in particular, infrastructural investment.”
The report is being released during – what Basu called – troubling times. He said there is a “decoupling between the world of finance and the real economy.”
“By most financial indicators we are doing better, distinctly better, actually, than a year ago. But if you look at the real economy, including the news that came from Europe, the recession is prolonging. Europe is probably into the longest stagnation since 1945. There is a trap lurking at every level of income for every country. Policymakers have to be aware of that,” he said.
He admitted that long-term economic forecasting can be difficult. However, he said that the Global Development Horizons report reveals “a host of interesting trends.”
“By 2030, we are also being told that China and India will be the largest investors in the world. Developing countries will account for 47 to 60 percent of global capital flows in 2030. This is an amazing shift from the current roughly 23 percent,” he said.
That’s expected to continue until the late 2030s, when another region will rise.
“At that stage,” he said, “the demographic dividend will be on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa. A lot of our global attention will no doubt turn to the great opportunities that will happen in sub-Saharan Africa.”
The report paints a scenario of deeper financial market development there. It adds that foreign investors will become much more willing to invest in the region. Also, sub-Saharan Africa will have a much younger labor force than many other parts of the world.
“By 2030, for every dollar that will be invested in the world 60 cents will be invested in developing countries. This is a dramatic change with respect to the past. For almost four decades, from the 60s to the 90s and 2000, the investments were only 20 cents to the dollar. So this is a major change,” said Maurizio Bussolo, lead author of the World Bank report.
Bussolo added that by 2019, total investment share in developing countries will overtake the total investment by developed nations.
“This is happening even though we foresee the investment rates coming down across all the regions. This is because growth will decelerate from [a] very high level and there will be a lot of churning within countries where investment will shift toward service sectors from agricultural and manufacturing.”
The report also says that “unlike in the past, developing countries will likely have the resources needed to finance massive future investments for infrastructure and services, including education and health care.”
Education is described as the best opportunity for policymakers to increase the earning capacity of its poor citizens.