A Google search for ‘Globalisation is dead’ highlights a revealing divide. Western journals and think-tanks often agree. Their equivalents elsewhere rarely do.
Even in most of the Western death notices, there is nuance. But many concur with Adam Tooze’s assessment in The Guardian that “the broader vision of the flat world of globalisation is dead”1.
The idea of globalisation’s demise long pre-dates Donald Trump’s trade schism with China in the run-up to the 2020 election, and his subsequent dubbing of COVID-19 “the China virus”. As The Economist put it, “Even before the pandemic, globalisation was in trouble”2. So too was the philosphy that defended it, globalism – though only in the West.
Back in 2016, in the wake of Trump’s election victory, journalist Paul Mason correctly sensed the tone of the coming four years, noting “Globalisation is dead, and white supremacy has triumphed”3. The two ideas are not often connected. But with the Trump experiment over, it can now be seen that the version of world order – economic order included – centred on the ‘white man’ and more broadly the West is drawing to a close.
Talk of the order’s passing escalated during the Trump presidency. By 2018, it had become central to the US political debate. In a speech in Houston, Trump said: “You know what a globalist is? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much.” He went on to describe what he saw as the political philosophy that opposed globalism: “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, okay? Nationalist. Nothing wrong. Use that word.”
But not everyone agrees that globalisation is an idea whose time has come and gone. Far from it. Beyond the West, many believe it is simply evolving – and fast – to a new structure in which Asia will be the centre of gravity. For investors, the implications are likely to be profound.
1 ‘The death of globalisation has been announced many times. But this is a perfect storm’, The Guardian, June 2020.
2 ‘Has covid-19 killed globalisation?’, The Economist, May 2020.
3 ‘Globalisation is dead, and white supremacy has triumphed’, The Guardian, November 2016.
Currency exchange: Changes in the relative values of different currencies may adversely affect the value of investments and any related income. Emerging market (inc. China): These markets carry a higher risk of financial loss than more developed markets as they may have less developed legal, political, economic or other systems.
All investments carry the risk of capital loss. The value of investments, and any income generated from them, can fall as well as rise and will be affected by changes in interest rates, currency fluctuations, general market conditions and other political, social and economic developments, as well as by specific matters relating to the assets in which the investment strategy invests. If any currency differs from the investor’s home currency, returns may increase or decrease as a result of currency fluctuations. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.