By themselves, emerging-market (EM) giants can't save us from this era of low growth. When Western economies went into hibernation after the shocks of 2008, the common refrain from our politicians and those across the EM neighbourhood was that there were new growth frontiers such as China that would now lead the globe. The post-Lehman Brothers world wasn't too bad, and in its immediate aftermath, it seemed the world's second-biggest economy's insatiable appetite for raw materials ensured that whatever was lost of demand from Europe was largely offset by Asia. But for whom were these Asian Tiger economies producing their goods, if not for an ailing Europe and the US? And it was obvious that the longer Europe and the US struggled, the more factory gates in Chinese cities such as Xiamen would find a slowing onrush from their customer base. The knock-on effect for raw material exporters such as Brazil and South Africa was equally obvious from that point on, and our woes were only furthe...

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