The U.S. has one key edge in this global competition because it is the sole industrial power with the ability to project military force just about anywhere in the world. A key question is how often the U.S. will choose to employ that edge in the competition for resources.

China has helped generate the explosive growth in for-profit education. When the job market gets tough, the tough go back to school. And the toughest go back to school while they're still employed. UBS Financial Services calculates that about 17 million adults in the U.S. fit this bill. It's these people, fearful of the changes now sweeping through the economy, who are fueling the boom in for-profit education. UBS projects that revenue at a company such as Career Education ( CECO) will grow at a rate of 55% a year over the next five years. Expect the traditional colleges and universities to react to this market shift with increasing numbers of nontraditional, postdegree programs for working adults. The college campus will be a very different place in a decade.

China will accelerate development of the next generation of the Internet. The new global economic system assumes subassemblies are made in Malaysia, assembled in China for a Japanese company and, finally, sold to U.S. consumers through Wal-Mart.

The flow only works if a company operating different functional divisions under different ownerships can communicate vast quantities of information in real time. The Internet as we now know it is showing signs of stress and overload. So companies operating within this global economic framework will push for the Internet's next generation to reach commercially valuable stability as quickly as possible.

China is increasing the importance of logistics to business. These global virtual companies don't just have a need to communicate vast amounts of data. They also must be able to track an immense number of real objects in varying states of market readiness.

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