What Could Bring Globalization Down?
Niall Ferguson from the Harvard Business School parallels the "present globalization" with the first one ninety years ago and suggests that this could be a "sinking globalization" as the first one.
I am an historian who has long been preoccupied by the similarities between our own time and the pre-1914 period. That the years 1880–1914 were the "first age of globalization" is now quite a widely accepted idea among economic historians. The data on trade, capital flows, and migration certainly bear that out.
I don't say it's impending. I just say it's possible. Like the outbreak of the First World War, a crisis of globalization today is a low-probability worst-case scenario. The key causes of the 1914 crisis were:
To see my point, just change the words in parenthesis to:
- The overstretch of the hegemonic empire (Britain).
- The escalation of rivalry between great powers (Britain and Germany in
particular, but also Germany and Russia).
- The destabilization of the alliance system (unreliability of Austria in
German eyes, of Britain in French eyes).
- The existence of a rogue regime sponsoring terror (Serbia).
- The rise of a revolutionary organization hostile to global capitalism
(the United States)
(the United States and China)
the Europeans in American eyes, unreliability of the Americans in Japanese,
South Korean, and Taiwanese eyes)
(Syria, Iran, etc.)
It would be a very good idea if the United States were to act now to avert the danger of a clash with China over the future of Taiwan. There is a real danger that Taiwan could be what Belgium was in 1914: the small state over which two great powers went to war without either quite meaning to.