Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Economics Gangnam Style

What ?? You don't know what Gangnam Style is ? It is the K-Pop (Korean Pop) sensation that has taken the world by storm. It  is No 2 on the UK and US pop charts, watched on You Tube some 400 million times . Everybody , it seems, wants to prance like a horse . Even the West Indies team, on winning the T20 World Cup, gave an energetic rendition of Gangnam Style (note the absence of the word cricket in this sentence !). Well, if you haven't heard of the original before, you can add to the 400m+ views by watching it here - beware, you have to practice prancing like a horse while doing so.

This blogger is seriously musically challenged and has no qualifications to write a music post - that being the domain of experts like Suja.  Or like another esteemed reader of this blog who runs his own radio station. Instead he shall demonstrate his "hipness" by linking economics to Gangnam Style !

HTC (a Taiwanese company) just declared its quarter's results announcing a 80% drop in profits. At the same time Samsung (a Korean company) announced a 85% rise in profits. You see its all got to do with Gangnam Style coolness. Galaxy S3 is cool, HTC Desire isn't. Five years ago, you wouldn't dream of owning a Hyundai car. Today, its quite OK to park your Equus next to a Japanese or German equivalent and not be subjected to hoots of derision. Or consider Amore Pacific an increasingly successful cosmetics company - after all if South Korean girls can look so young and pretty, there must be something in the cosmetics they use ! South Korea is just not ships or steel anymore. Brand South Korea is going places - Gangnam style.

The country which has the biggest lessons to learn is China. China desperately wants to be loved and is nonplussed when nobody seems to love it. It would dearly love to export "soft power" in addition to its undoubted "hard power". But it tries to do that by pouring money into CCTV globally- now it must take a seriously self flagellating masochist to watch CCTV for more than 1 minute. It shoots itself in the foot by going after anybody who said hello to the Dalai Lama. It threatens war over a few rocks in the middle of the sea. It stands no chance of global embrace by doing such things. It only results in Huawei not being allowed to sell much in the US. Nobody is going to proudly claim to own a Haier washing machine or even a Lenovo laptop. Instead it should unleash the creative forces of its wonderful people. Make them prance like a horse. Or if they like, maybe waddle like a panda. Preferably Gangnam style !

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