Stress, Wine and Disposable Income

If you aren’t reading the Atlantic Monthly on a regular basis…well, I’m just ashamed of you. It is one of the top five magazines in America.

This month’s issue is terrific and something in it caught my eye: The Great P.J O’Rourke’s article on where Big Ideas will come from in the near future. Besides O’Rourke’s always witty prose, the writer uses some very interesting maps to demonstrate where in the world conditions exist that will promote innovation in the coming years. Among those conditions are total children, total R&D expenditures, numbers of Female managers, primary education spending growth and net name but a few.


What really caught my eye was O’Rourke’s map that was created to confirm his analysis of which countries will drive innovation in the next few years: Alcohol and Cigarette Imports. About the map that shows the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Western Europe as the biggest net importers of alcohol and cigarettes, O’Rourke writes:

"That’s one more thing about innovation: it’s stressful. And who, among he world’s innovators are so stressed that they have to bring in stress relief from overseas? That would be the Americans, the Japanese, the Taiwanese, the South Koreans and the Continentals in Western Europe. You folks look like you need a drink. Innovation is a damn big job. Congratulations, Have a Cigar."

The connection O’Rourke makes between innovation, stress and drinking I think is partly tongue in cheek. The connection is likely more to do with disposable income.

Consider the top wine importing nations: the UK, U.S., France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, Canada (not in correct order). What they have in common is, again, being among the top countries in the world based on per capita income. This translates again into disposable income.

So…consider China: Per Capita Disposable Income is rising at a double digit pace for the past few years. It’s no coincidence that their wine imports are increasing also. It turns out home grown Chinese wine production is growing also. I suspect innovation will also come out of China in the next few years.

In any case, one never know where they are going to find intriguing wine-related ideas. Though it should not be surprise that they come out of the pen of P.J. O’Rourke an the pages of the Atlantic Monthly.


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