And speaking of boom-times, even as we here in the US "whine" about the US economy, it's "boom time for the global bourgeoisie."

In the midst of the current widespread gloom and doom in the west, it is important not to lose sight of the true structural themes shaping our era. Linked to the current mood, commentators often depict an embattled and shrinking middle class, with sharply rising financial inequality. However, globally, this is simply not true. One of the most startlingly positive phenomena for many generations continues to unfold around the world. We are in the middle of an explosion of the world's middle class.

This may be news to people who have not visited India or China recently. From my exposure to India, it is definitely true about the middle and upper middle class in India. The Indian middle class is 'punch drunk' in a wave of prosperity, tempered only slightly by a sluggish stock market this year.

The article goes on to talk about BRIC economies - a topic of great interest to many who investment in mutual funds and ETFs. However, the article points out that this is a phenomenon which s not restricted to BRIC countries.

Middle-class citizens will appear in their millions in many other parts of Asia, central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. This is a Bric-driven phenomenon, but the "next 11" are making their contribution and other nations will also participate.

This is a global phenomenon and is driven by globalization and the generation and redistribution of wealth it creates. (Yeah...yeah. We all know this. We've all read Friedman''s book 'The world is flat', right? In fact, I'd add that we knew all this even before he wrote the book. He just wrote the right book at the right time and got really famous doing it because in some ways, he said it out loud first and is hence (going to be) seen as a visionary; even if what he stated was obvious for anyone who was working and living in 1999-2003 and could have said all the same things if he thought a little bit about what was happening instead of just bemoaning 'outsourcing'.)

Anyways, do read the article. It contains some interesting data, for sure.

According to our calculations, the number of people living on incomes of less than $1,000 dollars a year ($2.75 a day) has already dropped significantly from about 50 per cent of the world's population in the 1970s to 17 per cent by 2000. According to our numbers, it could be as low as 6 per cent by 2015. On the more familiar World Bank defin-ition of one dollar a day, the same dramatic shift is evident. Probably no more than 5 per cent of the world's population now suffers this indignity. Of course, this is too much, but as long as the forces of globalisation continue we expect it to drop further.

Updated: Quite a few more articles on the subject recently.
One in the NYT (July 18th):
Boom Times Take Root in Dubai
Another in WSJ Blogs (August 5th):
Clean Tech: One Sector Is Bucking Global Economic Blues
and one more in NYT (August 12th): Cost-Cutting in New York, but a Boom in India

P.S. In reading up some other articles related to the above, I found this interesting related study about the spending and saving habits of Indians. It found that..

...people in India do not plan for long-term future and keep away from investing in long-term instruments though they save for long-term goals such as emergencies, education and old age.This phenomena is not just confined to just poor or middle-class households, but is prevalent in rich households too.

The survey reveals that most Indians prefer keeping 65 percent of their savings in liquid assets like bank or post office deposits and cash at home, while investing 23 percent in physical investments like real estate and gold and only 12 percent in financial instruments.

Damn...sounds like me! Can take the Indian out of India but not India out of the Indian! ;)