All Roads Lead East

TREND-WATCHER JOHN Naisbitt is targeting Asia now. Known for his cheery takes on the future, the best-selling author is finishing up his next book, tentatively titled Megatrends Asia. Due out in the U.S. in January, the book argues that "the whole center of the world is shifting to Asia," says Naisbitt, "economically and, I think, politically and culturally."

Some Americans might not relish the prospect of losing global hegemony. But Naisbitt, often derided for ignoring the downside of things, feels such concerns are irrelevant. "In a global economy, there are no boundaries," he says.

A relentless synthesizer of news events and others' views, Naisbitt presents a lot of conclusions that won't startle knowledgeable international business folk. Example: As Asians' living standards rise, their economies will move from export-driven to consumer-oriented.

Naisbitt, 66, has spent much of the past 1 1/2 years operating out of Kuala Lumpur. He can rattle off all kinds of facts and figures on Asia, such as how many ethnic Chinese live outside China. Although he speaks no Asian language, he says he has been coming to the region for three decades.