I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalisation. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer.” That was Tony Blair, Britain’s prime minister, in October 2005.
Two years later, in the autumn of 2007, Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the US Federal Reserve, was asked by a Swiss newspaper which candidate he was supporting in the forthcoming US presidential election. His response was striking. How he voted did not matter, Greenspan declared, because “[we] are fortunate that, thanks to globalisation, policy decisions in the US have been largely replaced by global market forces. National security aside, it hardly makes any difference who will be the next president. The world is governed by market forces.”
Theirs is a world we have lost. To understand it, you had to believe that global markets, like the seasons, were givens. You had to believe that markets had a logic by which they ruled and that the outcome of their rule was, on the whole, benign. You had also to believe, as Greenspan’s exception indicated, that although national security remained political, it was separable from economics. Otherwise, if economics and geopolitics were entangled, then presumably economics would be a matter for politicians, too.
In the 10 years since the financial crisis of 2008, all of those assumptions have been revealed as false. The idea that the economy is a realm beyond politics or the play of international power has been exposed as a self-serving illusion.
Read more here.
This was a fun piece to do for the Observer essay section and an interesting opportunity to try to focus some of the arguments of Crashed on the UK.
It is particularly indebted to the work of Jeremy Green of POLIS Cambridge, whose work was crucial for Crashed.