Would the destruction of China and India benefit the US economically?

A deliberately provocative question; but ignoring the human and moral element (to the same degree as the thread debating the Third Reich’s efficiency in killing concentration camp inmates), if somehow China and India suffered cataclysmic destruction and loss of life, would the USA derive a net benefit from it?

Consider the quarter-century after the end of World War Two, roughly the twenty-five years from 1945 to 1970. An era considered America’s Golden Age as Europe and the Pacific Rim spent decades recovering from the devastation of the war. Which not only didn’t touch the US but left it better developed than ever, and in a prime position as the chiefmost manufacturing power in the non-communist world.

So let’s say that a comet or asteroid impacted the eastern hemisphere. Rather than a single huge strike, once the comet passed within the Earth’s Roche limit it broke up into a multitude of smaller bodies, peppering an arc of destruction from China to India. The equivalent of thousands of nuclear blasts ranging from kiloton to multi-megaton in severity. The devastation is immense, and from both direct deaths and the chaotic aftermath over a billion people in the two countries are dead in a few months.

So how is the USA affected, other than possibly a year without a summer? In the short term losing cheap imports and outsourced services would hurt; but by the same token jobs would be created. Maybe much of the debt we owed would simply cease to exist, obliterated by the extinction of the governments holding it. What was left would be largely spent by the survivors on importing desperately food and equipment, which again would boost jobs and demand in the US. The loss of industry in the devastated region would mean reduced consumption of oil, lowering the world price per barrel.

In short, are catastrophes hell for those who suffer them, a windfall for the bystanders?

(Missed edit window; stupid cats)

Or to put it another way, is the Fallacy of the Broken Window not a fallacy if you consider the original loss an external, some other chump’s bad luck?

Well, it would certainly leave the US in a pretty untouchable position militarily. Russia doesn’t have a big interest in resuming Soviet-era military spending; it’s well recognized that China is probably the mostly likely challenger to the US if there’s going to be another arms race. In terms of manufacturing, there’s a hell of a lot of US investment in China and India, and manufacturing is already moving out of those countries into other stable, poorer countries in Latin America and Africa. China’s booming economy is also helping to buoy the rest of the world’s lousy economy, so it would probably tend to negatively impact the US’s economy in the short term.

Being the worlds largest debtor nation during a world depression hasn’t much to recommend. Even if default on sovereign debt was constitutional.

Without China’s savings during the GFC the US would have gone into financial meltdown (taking everybody else with it).

Long term recovery for the US needs 1) access to that pool of savings and 2) access to that pool of consumers.

I would say that we are all to interconnected for this to be anything other than a bad thing.

Look at the Earthquake in Japan. The loss of life was about 10,000 people, but it’s screwed the world economy by snagging up all sorts of supply chains. What the OP is talking about would be far more devastating.

No, not at all. The cheap slave labourers in China making the plastic dolls are not the problem here (production would simply shift to one of the tiger states), but the highly specialized production centers for computer and cell phone components. Remember that we are in 3rd and 4th generation robot factories there; those can’t be rebuilt from scratch in the US, esp. since not only the knowledge for the current factories, but the knowledge how to build the 1st gen. robots, which built the 2nd gen. robots etc., is also no longer present because of over a decade of outsourcing (and lack of quality education in manufacturing in the US generally).

Don’t forget that to build factories from the ground needs capital investment, and a dry period until its churning out products that earn money; but a lot of investment capital burned along with China. Given the multinational nature of today’s global companies, there would be serious hurt; given the nature of US stock company laws, I can’t see any company big enough to have the money, that wouldn’t also be severely suffering from the loss of its Chinese assets, willing to shell out money for five years or more without immediate revenue.

Additionally, import of coal and rare earth from China would collapse, which would put a strain on the rest of the existing sources, causing prices to shoot up suddenly, making products and energy more expensive in turn.

What’s the use of producing stuff if there’s no market of buyers? People would buy food and clothes, yes, but not in the US, instead in the neighbor markets of the Tiger states (assuming these were miraculously unaffected). The Chinese, esp. after a catastrophe, can’t afford US wares.

Generally, no. Can you give an example of this in the last century? Because your example of the time after WWII is flawed; it’s not about Europe being down and rebuilding after the war, it’s more about how the US govt. put money into the weapon industry and then went on war (WWII, followed by Korea, followed by Vietnam, followed by illegal arms sale in the 80s to South America, Iraq, Afghanistan…) basically burning the money.

Who do you think designed these factories? I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t the Chinese or the Indians.

I interned at a automotive testing facility. All of their testing rigs were built in China, but the design was done by a company in Minnesota. It is the same with all sorts of high tech industries in China. The factories, goods, and machines are designed by Westerners.

Having a bunch of cheap labor in India and China allows the United States and the rest of the Western world to move up the economic latter. How many fewer app designers would we need if smart phones cost a grand? That’s an obvious example. But that situation is something that occurs in every industry. With no labor in China or India, everything becomes more expensive, and everyone is able to buy less of everything.

Don’t forget that the current economic situation is rare, and for a good decade plus of outsourcing, we’ve had low unemployment.

Today or ten years ago? Because a bunch of plans 10 years old, on how to build 4th gen. robots using 3rd gen. robots, is not much help when rebuilding from scratch starting with 1st gen. robots.

And designing one factory in a joint venture or outsourcing project is quite different than designing 100 factories overnight to replace the lost ones. The people that were laid off because of outsourcing have now skills that are 10 years out of date and have not been practised (because they had to settle for other jobs), which is not optimal for rebuilding at the top; it would mean a lot of rediscovering, testing the new technology developed in the interim (no use building with 10 year old plans and tech.) and so on.

Which would mean investment, which is unlikely under US stock company law.

Yeah, if we try to replace all of the factories in China and India in a year, we are going to run into bottlenecks. But the bottleneck isn’t a lack of knowledge. All of those people who designed the 1-4 generation robots aren’t in China or India. We have all the expertise and facilities we need to build factory machinery in the West. Immediate demand would be a problem, but in 10 years that will settle out.

  1. During those 10 years or however long it takes, the bottleneck will have huge repercussions on most other industries. You yourself used the example of an iphone being too expensive affecting the programmers who write the apps for that; well, if the chips industry and rare earth minerals are both to 80% or so inaccessible, then most industries will have an output problem.

  2. I can’t imagine any major support in the US for a 10-year program, that is, spending money on something with that long a pay off.

The world economy is so interlinked that ANY country that is a major player being taken out, (Whether we like them or not) would be a BAD thing for everyone.

Why would we have to start from scratch with first generation robots? The OP stipulates that American manufacturing was not touched.

You still have 1st. gen robots around? I didn’t know that, I assumed you had them shipped overseas when the outsourcing started: building 1st gen robots in Asia to build the 2nd gen robots etc.

I think you misunderstood my question. I was wondering why we’d have to use first generation robots at all, instead of the current, state-of-the-art automation we already have.

Because, from what I understand about modern robot factories, humans can’t build 4th gen. robots directly, as they require parts so tiny and special that the parts are built from 3rd gen. robots, which in turn use parts from 2nd gen. robots and so on.

Without chips from China, building any advanced robots would be very difficult, if not impossible, anyway - I think even the modern stupid robots in car factories etc. are actually very advanced with lots of chips inside to perform complicated movements and be adaptable to different models.

So the current 4th generation or whatever robots we have can’t build other 4th generation robots? In this respect, 4th generation robots are worse than 3rd generation robots?

To my knowledge, you don’t have other 4th gen. robots in the US - because the first outsourcing of chips and other manufacture went to Asia and developed over there; so if chip production is cut off, you can’t rebuild any robots in the US. Unless you start cannibalizing the existing ones to build new ones, but that’s more of a Mad Max scenario to keep things going short-time than a long-term, widespread rebuilding of factories to replace lost ones.

I believe Miller was challenging the basic presumption that we are now totally dependent on foreign sources for the most advanced fabrication technology. So are we or aren’t we?

What are you basing this knowledge off of?

Condensed impression from several reports on outsourcing and the development of robot-production in Asian countries, with no mention of major production in the US any longer.

Do you have counter-evidence?