ISS Blog

Fortune Cookie Economics

[A guest blog spot by ISS Managing Editor Elaine Foxwell.]

I am once again putting together the annual Inside Self-Storage U.K./Europe supplement issue. I approached this project with anticipation and a little trepidation. How will we be received this year? The value of the dollar has dropped against many currencies. The pound is at a high I havent seen in 20 years or more. While this is good news for foreign companies looking to expand into the United States, what does it do to U.S. companies casting their eye beyond the purple mountains majesty?

Now I am far from being any sort of economist (I left that up to my Dad, who had a degree from the London School of Economics). But since my family has financial ties to the U.K., we watch the rise and fall of the dollar fairly closely. And what is apparent is the world is smaller than a global villageit has shrunk to the size of a global cottage populated by a large family vying for chow at the world-trade dinner table. One member of the family is chowing down faster than the rest. And while this kid is demanding more of the global trade pie, it also presents new economic opportunities for outsiders.

Im speaking of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Anyone in development knows the PRCs ever-increasing demand for cement and steel is having a huge impact on the prices of these commodities everywhere. An article in the Aug. 29 issue of The Business Standard quotes a steelmaker saying there has been a 12 percent to 14 percent rise in the demand for steel over the last two years. And between 1996 and 2006, the demand for steel in China increased from 100 million tons to 500 million tons. As for cement, China accounted for 37 percent of 2006 global demand, reaching 760 million metric tons according to Research Studies Fredonia Group.

The PRC has the world's fourth largest economy and second largest purchasing power parity and the population in the PRC, some 1.3 billion people, are all slowly, slowly embracing the concept that having lotsa stuff is a good thing. So, they move from owning bicycles to mopeds to small cars. They add electronic equipment and sports equipment and more furniture and barbeques (maybe) to their household inventories. Eventually, they will need places to keep their hard-earned goods.

No crystal ball here, but even a fiscally challenged individual such as me sees that mainlined China will someday be the new frontier for self-storage. Have any thoughts on this? Please post them to the blog!

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