The Economist this week (Oct 15 issue) includes a special report on the world economy, where an important conclusion is that the forward march of globalisation has paused since the financial crisis, with nations states and trade unions returning to a more conditional, interventionist and nationalist model.
According to The Economist, a simple measure of trade intensity, world exports as a share of world GDP, rose steadily from 1986 to 2008 but has been flat since. Global capital flows, which in 2007 topped $11 trillion, amounted to barely a third of that figure last year. Cross-border direct investment is also well down on its 2007 peak.
After two decades in which people, capital and goods were moving ever more freely across borders, walls and trade barriers have been going up. Governments increasingly pick and choose whom they trade with, what sort of capital they welcome and how much freedom they allow for doing business abroad.
Below is a video published on YouTube today, where the author of the special report, Greg Ip, discusses his conclusions.