China and America dominate like never before
TWENTY YEARS ago this week the share price of a startup run by an obsessive called Jeff Bezos had slumped by 71% over 12 months. Amazon’s near-death experience was part of the dotcom crash that exposed Silicon Valley’s hubris and, along with the $14bn fraud at Enron, shattered confidence in American business. China, meanwhile, was struggling to privatise its creaking state-owned firms, and there was little sign that it could create a culture of entrepreneurship. Instead the bright hope was in Europe, where a new single currency promised to catalyse a giant business-friendly integrated market.
Creative destruction often makes predictions look silly, but even by these standards the post-pandemic business world is dramatically different from what you might have expected two decades ago. Tech firms comprise a quarter of the global stockmarket and the geographic mix has become strikingly lopsided. America and, increasingly, China are ascendant, accounting for 76 of the world’s 100 most valuable firms. Europe’s tally has fallen from 41 in 2000 to 15 today.