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The Economist Leaders, Reinventing globalisation

Reinventing globalisation

Leaders.

Reinventing globalisation.

Switching to a security-first model of globalisation would make the world more expensive and dangerous.

Three years ago, The Economist used the term “slowbalisation” to describe the fragile state of international trade and commerce. After the go-go 1990s and 2000s the pace of economic integration stalled in the 2010s, as firms grappled with the aftershocks of a financial crisis, a populist revolt against open borders and President Donald Trump's trade war. The flow of goods and capital stagnated. Many bosses postponed big decisions on investing abroad: just-in-time gave way to wait-and-see. No one knew if globalisation faced a blip or extinction.

Now the waiting is over, as the pandemic and war in Ukraine have triggered a once-in-a-generation reimagining of global capitalism in boardrooms and governments (see Briefing). Everywhere you look, supply chains are being transformed, from the $9trn in inventories, stockpiled as insurance against shortages and inflation, to the fight for workers as global firms shift from China into Vietnam. This new kind of globalisation is about security, not efficiency: it prioritises doing business with people you can rely on, in countries your government is friendly with. It could descend into protectionism, big government and worsening inflation. Alternatively, if firms and politicians show restraint, it could change the world economy for the better, keeping the benefits of openness while improving resilience.

After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the lodestar of globalisation was efficiency. Companies located production where costs were lowest, while investors deployed capital where returns were highest. Governments aspired to treat firms equally, regardless of their nationality, and to strike trade deals with democracies and autocracies alike. Over two decades this gave rise to dazzlingly sophisticated value chains that account for half of all trade: your car and phone contain components that are better travelled than Phileas Fogg. All this kept prices low for consumers and helped lift 1bn people out of extreme poverty as the emerging world, including China, industrialised.

But hyper-efficient globalisation also had problems. Volatile capital flows destabilised financial markets. Many blue-collar workers in rich countries lost out. Recently, two other worries have loomed large. First, some lean supply chains are not as good value as they appear: mostly they keep costs low, but when they break, the bill can be crippling. Today's bottlenecks have reduced global gdp by at least 1%. Shareholders have been hit as well as consumers: as chip shortages have stalled car production, carmakers' cashflows have dropped by 80% year on year. Tim Cook, the supply-chain guru who runs Apple, reckons such snafus could reduce sales by up to $8bn, or 10%, this quarter. Covid-19 was a shock, but wars, extreme weather or another virus could easily disrupt supply chains in the next decade.

The second problem is that the single-minded pursuit of cost advantage has led to a dependency on autocracies that abuse human rights and use trade as a means of coercion. Hopes that economic integration would lead to reform—what the Germans call “change through trade”—have been dashed: autocracies account for a third of world gdp. Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has painfully exposed Europe's reliance on Russian energy. This week McDonald's in Moscow, which opened in 1990, restarted under local control. Big Macs are no longer on the menu. Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping's ideological and unpredictable China has a trade footprint seven times as big as Russia's—and the world relies on it for a variety of goods from active pharmaceutical ingredients to the processed lithium used in batteries.

One indication that companies are shifting from efficiency to resilience is the vast build-up in precautionary inventories: for the biggest 3,000 firms globally these have risen from 6% to 9% of world gdp since 2016. Many firms are adopting dual sourcing and longer-term contracts. The pattern of multinational investment has been inverted: 69% is from local subsidiaries reinvesting locally, rather than parent firms sending capital across borders. This echoes the 1930s, when global firms responded to nationalism by making subsidiaries abroad more self-sufficient.

The industries under most pressure are already reinventing their business models, encouraged by governments that from Europe to India are keen on “strategic autonomy”. The car industry is copying Elon Musk's Tesla by moving towards vertical integration, in which you control everything from nickel mining to chip design (see Business section). Taiwan's electronics assemblers have cut their share of assets in China from 50% to 35% since 2017 as clients such as Apple demand diversification. In energy, the West is seeking long-term supply deals from allies rather than relying on spot markets dominated by rivals—one reason it has been cosying up to gas-rich Qatar. Renewables will also make energy markets more regional.

The danger is that a reasonable pursuit of security will morph into rampant protectionism, jobs schemes and hundreds of billions of dollars of industrial subsidies. The short-term effect of this would be more volatility and fragmentation that would push prices yet higher: witness President Joe Biden's consideration of new tariffs on solar panels, which he paused this month in the face of shortages. The long-run inefficiency from indiscriminately replicating supply chains would be enormous. Were you to duplicate a quarter of all multinational activity, the extra annual operating and financial costs involved could exceed 2% of world gdp.

The trouble with safe spaces

That is why restraint is crucial. Governments and firms must remember that resilience comes from diversification, not concentration at home. The choke-points autocracies control amount to only about a tenth of global trade, based on their exports of goods in which they have a leading market share of over 10% and for which it is hard to find substitutes. The answer is to require firms to diversify their suppliers in these areas, and let the market adapt. Will today's governments be up to the task? Myopia and insularity abound. But if you are a consumer of global goods and ideas—that is to say, a citizen of the world—you should hope globalisation's next phase involves the maximum possible degree of openness. A new balance between efficiency and security is a reasonable goal. Living in a subsidised bunker is not.


Reinventing globalisation 重塑全球化

Leaders. 领导。

Reinventing globalisation. 重塑全球化。

Switching to a security-first model of globalisation would make the world more expensive and dangerous. Переход к модели глобализации, ориентированной на безопасность, сделает мир более дорогим и опасным. 转向安全第一的全球化模式将使世界变得更加昂贵和危险。

Three years ago, The Economist used the term “slowbalisation” to describe the fragile state of international trade and commerce. Три года назад The Economist использовал термин «слоубализация» для описания хрупкого состояния международной торговли и коммерции. 三年前,《经济学人》使用“缓慢化”一词来描述国际贸易和商业的脆弱状态。 After the go-go 1990s and 2000s the pace of economic integration stalled in the 2010s, as firms grappled with the aftershocks of a financial crisis, a populist revolt against open borders and President Donald Trump's trade war. После бурных 1990-х и 2000-х темпы экономической интеграции замедлились в 2010-х, когда компании столкнулись с последствиями финансового кризиса, популистского восстания против открытых границ и торговой войны президента Дональда Трампа. 在 1990 年代和 2000 年代快速发展之后,经济一体化的步伐在 2010 年代停滞不前,因为公司正在努力应对金融危机的余震、民粹主义对开放边界的反抗和唐纳德特朗普总统的贸易战。 The flow of goods and capital stagnated. Поток товаров и капитала остановился. 货物和资本流动停滞不前。 Many bosses postponed big decisions on investing abroad: just-in-time gave way to wait-and-see. Многие начальники откладывали важные решения об инвестировании за границу: «точно вовремя» уступило место выжидательной тактике. 许多老板推迟了在海外投资的重大决策:及时让位于观望。 No one knew if globalisation faced a blip or extinction. Никто не знал, ждет ли глобализация всплеск или исчезновение. 没有人知道全球化是面临昙花一现还是灭亡。

Now the waiting is over, as the pandemic and war in Ukraine have triggered a once-in-a-generation reimagining of global capitalism in boardrooms and governments (see Briefing). Теперь ожидание закончилось, поскольку пандемия и война в Украине вызвали переосмысление глобального капитализма в советах директоров и правительствах, которое происходит раз в поколение (см. Брифинг). 现在等待已经结束,因为乌克兰的流行病和战争已经引发了董事会和政府对全球资本主义的千载难逢的重新构想(见简报)。 Everywhere you look, supply chains are being transformed, from the $9trn in inventories, stockpiled as insurance against shortages and inflation, to the fight for workers as global firms shift from China into Vietnam. Куда ни глянь, цепочки поставок трансформируются: от товарно-материальных запасов на сумму 9 трлн долларов, накопленных в качестве страховки от дефицита и инфляции, до борьбы за рабочих, когда глобальные компании переходят из Китая во Вьетнам. 随处可见,供应链正在发生转变,从 9 万亿美元的库存(作为应对短缺和通货膨胀的保险),到随着全球公司从中国转移到越南,争夺工人。 This new kind of globalisation is about security, not efficiency: it prioritises doing business with people you can rely on, in countries your government is friendly with. Этот новый вид глобализации касается безопасности, а не эффективности: приоритет отдается ведению бизнеса с людьми, на которых вы можете положиться, в странах, с которыми ваше правительство дружит. It could descend into protectionism, big government and worsening inflation. Это может привести к протекционизму, большому правительству и усилению инфляции. 它可能陷入保护主义、庞大的政府和恶化的通胀。 Alternatively, if firms and politicians show restraint, it could change the world economy for the better, keeping the benefits of openness while improving resilience. В качестве альтернативы, если фирмы и политики проявят сдержанность, это может изменить мировую экономику к лучшему, сохранив преимущества открытости и повысив устойчивость. 或者,如果企业和政界人士表现出克制,它可以使世界经济变得更好,保持开放的好处,同时提高弹性。

After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the lodestar of globalisation was efficiency. 1989 年柏林墙倒塌后,全球化的标志是效率。 Companies located production where costs were lowest, while investors deployed capital where returns were highest. 公司将生产设在成本最低的地方,而投资者则将资本部署在回报最高的地方。 Governments aspired to treat firms equally, regardless of their nationality, and to strike trade deals with democracies and autocracies alike. 各国政府渴望平等对待企业,无论其国籍如何,并与民主国家和专制国家达成贸易协议。 Over two decades this gave rise to dazzlingly sophisticated value chains that account for half of all trade: your car and phone contain components that are better travelled than Phileas Fogg. 二十多年来,这催生了令人眼花缭乱的复杂价值链,占所有贸易的一半:你的汽车和手机包含的组件比 Phileas Fogg 更适合旅行。 All this kept prices low for consumers and helped lift 1bn people out of extreme poverty as the emerging world, including China, industrialised. 随着包括中国在内的新兴世界实现工业化,所有这些都为消费者保持了低价,并帮助 10 亿人摆脱了极端贫困。

But hyper-efficient globalisation also had problems. Volatile capital flows destabilised financial markets. 不稳定的资本流动动摇了金融市场。 Many blue-collar workers in rich countries lost out. Recently, two other worries have loomed large. 最近,另外两个担忧越来越大。 First, some lean supply chains are not as good value as they appear: mostly they keep costs low, but when they break, the bill can be crippling. Today's bottlenecks have reduced global gdp by at least 1%. Shareholders have been hit as well as consumers: as chip shortages have stalled car production, carmakers' cashflows have dropped by 80% year on year. Tim Cook, the supply-chain guru who runs Apple, reckons such snafus could reduce sales by up to $8bn, or 10%, this quarter. Covid-19 was a shock, but wars, extreme weather or another virus could easily disrupt supply chains in the next decade.

The second problem is that the single-minded pursuit of cost advantage has led to a dependency on autocracies that abuse human rights and use trade as a means of coercion. Hopes that economic integration would lead to reform—what the Germans call “change through trade”—have been dashed: autocracies account for a third of world gdp. Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has painfully exposed Europe's reliance on Russian energy. This week McDonald's in Moscow, which opened in 1990, restarted under local control. Big Macs are no longer on the menu. Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping's ideological and unpredictable China has a trade footprint seven times as big as Russia's—and the world relies on it for a variety of goods from active pharmaceutical ingredients to the processed lithium used in batteries.

One indication that companies are shifting from efficiency to resilience is the vast build-up in precautionary inventories: for the biggest 3,000 firms globally these have risen from 6% to 9% of world gdp since 2016. Many firms are adopting dual sourcing and longer-term contracts. The pattern of multinational investment has been inverted: 69% is from local subsidiaries reinvesting locally, rather than parent firms sending capital across borders. This echoes the 1930s, when global firms responded to nationalism by making subsidiaries abroad more self-sufficient.

The industries under most pressure are already reinventing their business models, encouraged by governments that from Europe to India are keen on “strategic autonomy”. The car industry is copying Elon Musk's Tesla by moving towards vertical integration, in which you control everything from nickel mining to chip design (see Business section). Taiwan's electronics assemblers have cut their share of assets in China from 50% to 35% since 2017 as clients such as Apple demand diversification. In energy, the West is seeking long-term supply deals from allies rather than relying on spot markets dominated by rivals—one reason it has been cosying up to gas-rich Qatar. Renewables will also make energy markets more regional.

The danger is that a reasonable pursuit of security will morph into rampant protectionism, jobs schemes and hundreds of billions of dollars of industrial subsidies. The short-term effect of this would be more volatility and fragmentation that would push prices yet higher: witness President Joe Biden's consideration of new tariffs on solar panels, which he paused this month in the face of shortages. The long-run inefficiency from indiscriminately replicating supply chains would be enormous. Were you to duplicate a quarter of all multinational activity, the extra annual operating and financial costs involved could exceed 2% of world gdp.

The trouble with safe spaces

That is why restraint is crucial. Governments and firms must remember that resilience comes from diversification, not concentration at home. The choke-points autocracies control amount to only about a tenth of global trade, based on their exports of goods in which they have a leading market share of over 10% and for which it is hard to find substitutes. The answer is to require firms to diversify their suppliers in these areas, and let the market adapt. Will today's governments be up to the task? Myopia and insularity abound. But if you are a consumer of global goods and ideas—that is to say, a citizen of the world—you should hope globalisation's next phase involves the maximum possible degree of openness. A new balance between efficiency and security is a reasonable goal. Living in a subsidised bunker is not.