Seek Wealth? Look to the Future!

By Shlomo Maital     

crystal ball                       


   You can use Google easily to spot trends (Google Trends), by seeing how many people are searching on a given word.  You get an instant graph that shows ups and downs over the past months and years. 

  Now, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, two  researchers have shown that:  “The more a country is looking forward, the more successful economically the country is.”    They are Warwick Business School associate professor Tobias Preis and Dr. Helen Susannah Moat of University College,  London. 

      They found that countries where “Internet users … search for more information about the future tend to have a higher per-capita GDP,” says Preis,    This makes sense. When the economy is humming along, it is easier to be optimistic—to plan vacations, buy season tickets, investigate investments, etc. The researchers simply checked, by country, the ratio of those who searched on ‘2013’ compared to ‘2011’. 

  Who are the most forward-looking nations!  Well – Germany.  “Of everyone, Germans are the most forward-looking, knocking Britons from the top spot.   This year, the Germans are looking forward to a pivotal federal election.  Preis, a German national,  declined to say whether Germany’s exuberance bodes well for incumbent Angela Merkel.”

   “Interestingly, the U.S. ranks 11th, up from 15th a year earlier. The 2012 findings showed that entering an election year, more Americans were looking backward to 2010.  This year, Americans as a whole are more optimistic about 2013 than they were a year earlier, Preis says.”

    Economic laggards  Pakistan, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan round out the bottom of the list.

    There is a lesson here.  Political leaders must find ways to instill hope in their people, and the measure of success is simply whether people are looking to the future, or looking back at the past.   Google helps us know whether people indeed are future-looking or are looking (with sadness) in the rear-view mirror.