The stubbornly persistent pandemic, events in Ukraine, and simmering U.S.-China tensions have led numerous commentators—and not just the usual skeptics—to boldly proclaim that we’re entering a new era of “deglobalization.” Factories are reshoring, economies are decoupling, and everyone has given up on “free trade.” Influential investors are now openly wondering, as the New York Times reports ominously, whether we’re seeing the “End of Globalization.”
Surely, there are worrying signs for the global economy (some of which, by the way, emerged long before the pandemic). However, commentators have been wrongly predicting globalization’s imminent demise for years, and the evidence we have—so far, at least—shows less that “globalization” is dying and more that it’s constantly evolving in response to various economic and geopolitical trends, including the ones we’re seeing today. Indeed, much of the problem with the current “deglobalization” talk right now is that it seems to misunderstand (sometimes wildly) what “globalization” actually is and the rules that govern it.
There’s a lot to cover here, so this discussion will consist of two parts. Today, you’ll get Part 1; next week you’ll get—go figure—Part 2. (This approach seemed better—for you and me!—than giving you 5,000 words today.)