I’m writing from Las Vegas where I’m wrapping up a brief stay. Remember the $3.99 shrimp and prime rib buffets that used to dot the city here? They’re long gone as they’ve embarked on a campaign to destroy every low-priced hotel left on the Strip and ushered in new super-luxury hotels where $3.99 won’t buy you a bottled water.
I recently finished reading The $10 Trillion Prize, a brilliant book discussing the current and future trends of class ascension and increased consumer spending in China and India. If you’re an investor or entrepreneur, these are two markets you need to be focused on and you need to read this book.
One thing that stood out to me as I stood at a $100 craps table on one of the slowest days of the year was just how the massive increase of wealth from these two nations will shape the global economy this century. If you embrace it, you’ll flourish. Those who don’t will suffer the consequences.
For example, while the US has been mired in a recession, Vegas is back on the upswing, with fresh new casinos and more rooms than ever. It’s not Americans filling those rooms. It’s cash-flush Chinese, Middle Easterners, and the new affluent from other developing countries.
They’re flooding into the West with cash in hand to experience fine hotels and dining and to stock up on luxury goods of indubious authenticity.
When the mob ruled Vegas, it was all about gambling, a bit seedy, catered to Southern Californians who drove in and other Americans who could fly. As it has become a global entertainment destination, Vegas has de-emphasized gaming, added a slew of me-too gourmet steak joints run by celebrity chefs, and rolled out more and more luxuries.
If you’re an American who was used to cheap gambling, generous comps, friendly service, and cheap food, the globalization of Las Vegas and the new international demand has priced you out.
China and India will add hundreds of millions to the rolls of their new middle class in your lifetime. Countless new developing world billionaires will be created as there have been over the past decade alone. These people come from another culture where consumer demand is shaped in different ways than you may be used to.
Entrepreneurial innovation in those countries will eventually force innovation and, in kind, lower prices in the west. But it will also create a larger demand for resources for luxury goods to oil.
Prices for westerners will be higher, but I suspect Americans will be hit the hardest. Save the falling value of the dollar; compared to Europeans, Americans have grown accustomed to cheap fuel, cheap food, and the cheapest standard of living among first-world democracies.
As China and India rush to grab their share of the world’s resources, prices will go up, just like in Vegas. You can learn the lessons of The $10 Trillion Prize, embrace the future, and profit, or you can watch the world change before your very eyes.
Unfortunately, I suspect as this phenomenon causes disposable incomes to decrease in the west, the middle class here, far less secure in outlook than their Chinese and Indian counterparts, will put more demand on people like you to “do your fair share”.