Is Nationalism Perverting Globalization? Yes. But in a Good Way.

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    Global trade relations are changing today. The rise of nationalism, more focus on national interest, and national security has redirected globalization from a stringent focus on economic efficiency to local concerns and domestic welfare. To me this is a redirecting of neoliberalism’s emphasis sole focus on efficient global transactions to a broader focus on the impact of global business on the local level — the domestic national level.

   This is not a rejection of all global transactions or globalization but a call for a more balanced connection between local (national) needs and those of a globalized economy. A good piece in today’s Financial Times discusses many of these points. Here are some of those points made in that article.


  • Today, it’s quite clear that the pendulum of history is swinging away from global economic integration. 
  • Today, we are entering a new era of localization. That doesn’t mean that all things global will fade. Quite the contrary — business, policymakers and society as a whole need a bit more focus on the local to ensure continued buy-in for globalisation. 
  • There will also be a rethink of trade rules, labor rights, and how to figure both the costs, as well as the benefits, of economic growth into the data that policymakers use to shape our world. 
  • But both parties now appreciate that place matters. After decades of a “winner take all” trend, in which the majority of prosperity has been located in a handful of cities and companies, look for business and policymakers to be more focused on ensuring that wealth and place are re-moored.  
  • This will come with costs — such as inflation. The old “efficiency” models, which assumed that people, goods and capital would move seamlessly to wherever they were needed, were cheap. Creating more opportunity at home, while still remaining connected to the global economy, will require building more resilient models. 
  • We have to start thinking outside the black box of conventional economics and look at the world in a more realistic and holistic way, tapping into other disciplines such as law and business. 
  • While Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, held that in order for free markets to function properly, participants needed to have a shared moral framework, the global economy today is made up of a huge number of nations with extremely different values and political systems. 
  • Ironically, the shift towards global market interests has led to exactly the kind of nationalism that the creators of institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization wanted to avoid. 
  • Restoring liberty meant restoring a decentralized economy that bred independent citizens and enabled local communities to be masters of their destiny, rather than victims of economic forces beyond their control. 
  • This sums up not only the founding principal of the country, but the core challenge of the new era — how to reconnect global markets and the value created within them to nation states. 

                       “Guide to a Deglobalizing World.” (10.21.22).


About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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