The issues of globalization, the digital revolution, global institutions, finance and trade, economic integration and political division, and tension between cooperation and conflict are hallmarks of the 21st century. Martin Wolfe has in his own brilliant manner laid them out in a recent article in the Financial Times and put forth his view of their interaction. The following are some quotes from his recent piece:
“The salient characteristic of the past quarter of a century is globalization. Driven on by the worldwide acceptance of the market economy and turbocharged by the digital revolution, humanity has created an economy that is more highly integrated than in 1913 ….”
“Moreover, this has happened not under empire but under the aegis of global institutions, both public (such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the EU) and private (transnational companies).”
“Trade has proved more robust than finance, but even it ceased to rise relative to world output between 2005 and 2012. It is not yet clear how deep-seated this slowdown in globalization will prove.”
“The tension between economic integration and political division remain the Achilles heel of any globally integrated economy.”
“This tension between co-operation and conflict is permanent.”
I would posit two additional items as being particularly salient in defining this era: the changing role of governments and the rise of social media. In many ways these change the calculus of national interests and promote sub-national and non-governmental actors in the global system. As someone once said the future isn’t what it used to be.
…..”Three Events that Shaped our World.” Financial Times (June 11, 2014)