Add changes in technology, macroeconomics and geopolitics to the virus, and it becomes clear why we face a turbulent year
Over the last half-century the world has been transformed by huge flows of trade and investment. The source of our food and the manufacture of everything from trainers to mobile phones has been revolutionised. Bank inquiries in Newcastle are handled in Bangalore. Secure industrial jobs have evaporated in Europe and North America and reappeared on the other side of the world. Exports, which amounted to less than 10% of global GDP in the 1970s, now stand at 25%.
Globalisation has been a massive social and economic transformation. It has, by the same token, been hotly contentious, creating losers as well as winners. And this raised the question: would it be brought to an end by eruption of opposition? Again and again – after the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, September 11, the financial crisis of 2008 and the election of Donald Trump – there have been predictions of globalisation’s terminal crisis. In the background lurks the memory of the 1930s and the Great Depression, when trade and capital flows contracted, not to recover for the best part of half a century.
Read the full essay at The Guardian