Monday, May 23, 2005

Sinking Globalization: What's The World Coming To?

Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson predicts possible de-globalization of the world economyPosted by Hello

The HBS Working Knowledge e-newsletter features an interview with Dr. Niall Ferguson in which he identifies scenarios that could lead to the de-globalization of the economy. He warns that the precarious state of international relations today could bring an end to the world as we know it. As an historian, the basis for his fears is in the similarities between current world conditions and those that prevailed in 1914, which year marked the end of the first great era of globalization and the start of World War I.

The professor identifies tensions between the U.S. and China as a source of trouble. The post on EconOpinion on May 19 identifies one of many specific causes of that tension (see Textile Imports from China--A Quota Without Teeth?). There are many others, including the status of Taiwan.

It's easy to see the stresses created by the effects of globalism. Here in the U.S., the issue of illegal border crossings recently came to a head with the Minutemen controversy. In Europe, the upcoming vote on the EU constitution is causing some leaders to wonder whether the EU will hold together.

As nations turn inward, globalism could end with a whimper rather than a bang. Alternatively, Dr. Ferguson notes a worst-case scenario:

There is a real danger that Taiwan could be what Belgium was in 1914: the small state over which two great powers went to war without either quite meaning to.

For the sake of us all, if globalism needs to be cut down somewhat, let it be through peaceful means. Of course, that's probably what they were saying in 1914, too.



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