Weighing The Costs And Benefits Of Globalization

For decades there has been a growing debate over the benefits or costs of a more globalized world. And for decades, the world has moved on almost oblivious to that debate. Whether opponents or advocates of a more globalized social and economic system recognize it, the reality is the Internet and the ongoing expansion of trade across borders and oceans have virtually assured globalization is here to stay. The question, however, remains of where it stands today as a movement and the impact it has on individuals and nations.

Globalization Needs A Reboot
Kevin Rafferty in the Japan Times says that globalization faces serious challenges and that the movement has been “gravely wounded by a multitude of simultaneous enemies, including the failure of international leadership, both globally and nationally, political paralysis in the United States and the dangerous flaws and contradictions in the concepts of globalization and of the Internet.”

According to Rafferty, globalization “has already started to creak and needs attention.” He says that there is some legitimacy to the flaws pointed out by critics, such as Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz, who argues that “the rules of the globalization game are unfair, and benefit the rich and powerful, both governments and corporations” and “that the poorest countries are vulnerable; and that the modern market often leads to greater inequality to the disadvantage of the poor.”

“Whatever the theories may claim, the world is far from being or becoming a small village,” he adds.

Globalization Raises Questions Of Inequality But Few Solutions
Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations also weighs in on the costs and benefits of globalization, particularly from the standpoint of how free trade has impacted global income inequality.

Alden, who recently attended a conference at the Peterson Institute for International Economics on the ethics of globalization, says a more open market has benefited some at the cost to poorer nations, a reality which raises some questions, but few answers.

Also in attendance was Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute, who believes that even if growth in emerging markets has “increased inequality within the United States and other advanced economies” that is of little concern to him as an “international cosmopolitan.” According to Alden, Subramanian holds his concern for workers in countries than China will be hurt.

Globalization In The Coming Decades
In an article in the Huffington Post, Christophe de Margerie, Parag Khanna, and Felix Marquardt assert that globalization is entering a new phase that is going largely unnoticed by many in the Western world.

“Beyond the daily impact on our world, a re-balancing act of planetary magnitude is in the works. For the first time in five centuries, sixty-something white men from Western Europe and North America are no longer calling all the shots across the globe. The balance is shifting: it takes only a few minutes in any major Asian airport to understand that the exclusive invitation-only party is over for the West,” they maintain.

In confronting the “new realities” of a globalized world, the authors suggest individuals take hold of the reins themselves by using “new transnational issue driven networks to advance the debate on global issues rather than waiting for the agenda to come from Washington or Beijing.”

They point to initiatives like the the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as virtual and creative tools that “allow for global participation in fundraising and development spending” to encourage and enhance efforts to bring a variety of issues to the forefront of international discussion.

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