We are in a deglobalization period: Business historian Geoffrey G. Jones

21 02 2017


If “post-truth” was the word of the year in 2016, “deglobalization” may be the word of the year in 2017. (Actually people have been talking about deglobalization for the last few years). Livemint, the Indian business website, has published a great interview in which the great business historian Geoffrey Jones discussed deglobalization. The full interview is worth reading.  I’ve pasted some choice excerpts. As you can see, Professor Jones is very much of the view that de-globalization is being driven entirely by policy rather than other forces, such as convergence in labour costs in manufacturing, technological convergence, or higher energy costs.


What drives deglobalization?

It is policy. The question is why. I personally think globalization has a bit of an issue—it rewards winners. Losers, lose out. So, in the first global economy, in the early 20th century, the world as a whole got very rich. But there was a huge gap between the winners and the losers. So who did well? White men in the US and Europe did well. Who lost out? Women lost out, colonized people lost out, Muslims lost out.

Why is deglobalization repeating?

It is the revolt of the losers. In the first wave the colonized people revolted against that. There was a huge wave of extreme Muslim rebellion and Jihadi movement. We are seeing a repeat of that now. This time it’s not colonized people, but the blue collared, the white workers, the middle class due to the rising disparity in incomes and we are seeing that across geographies from the US to China.

How long do you see this period of deglobalization lasting?

The last one lasted 50 years and included a spectacular war and much else.



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