Outside of the charmed magic circle of western and central Europe, North America, and the other Anglo-Saxon settler colonies, few indeed are the economies that have managed successful economic development in the sense of convegence: materially closing any significant fraction of their productivity and living standards gap vis-a-vis the world's economic leaders. The Northeast Asian Pacific Rim, now including China; further south, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam; India and Sri Lanka; elsewhere, Turkey, Chile, Botswana, Mauritius, and Cabo Verde. That is all. And with perhaps one or two exceptions, those few have followed the particular economic development path of using low-wage manufacturing exports to nurture their domestic communities of engineering practice—a path that is now closing.
It has long been easy to see the glass half-full with respect to global economic growth: technologies and organizational forms can be imitated and adopted, do diffuse, and even the poorer parts of the globe are much richer than they were two or one or even half a century ago. It has been much harder to see the glass half-full with respect to convergence: the catching-up and closing of the gap vis-a-vis the world's industrial leaders. Why have so few countries been able to walk the path? And what are our prospects for the future? With the prospective closing of the standard parth for convergence, seeing the glass half-full is becoming harder: perhaps there will be no glass at all.