I was reading about China this morning in a daily email I receive and it reminded me of a general thought/feeling I’ve had in recent months. Let me preface what I’m about to say with the following: I’m not a geopolitical, foreign policy or globalization expert. I’m simply sharing thoughts I’ve had about what’s going on in the world with respect to China and to the U.S.
According to economists, it’s a foregone conclusion that China will eventually be the world’s largest economy. It’s a numbers thing. I’m not exactly sure how to corroborate this assertion but intuitively it makes sense so let’s just run with it for argument’s sake. China is very ambitious and is taking steps to increase its influence around the world. There’s no better way to do that than to “invest” in countries (i.e., hand money out). After all, influence is always for sale, right? Regardless, China appears to be very forward thinking in many aspects from reaching out to and building relationships with an increasing number of countries to its silk road initiative to its infrastructure investments at home. China is hungry for growth, influence and power. No doubt about it.
Don’t get me wrong, China is flawed in many ways from massive potential social issues to substantial debt levels to an increasingly authoritative government structure. However, the country is focused and is actively pursuing a vision. Of course a lot of the focus has to do with the centralized nature of its government. Regardless, the country is advancing on many fronts.
On the other hand, the US at times appears to be stagnant and rigid in its approach to many things internationally. I guess that can happen when you’ve been alone at the top for so long. However, the protectionist/nationalistic tone emanating from many parts of the country has a feeling of looking inward and backwards versus looking outward and forward (i.e., projecting power). I don’t know if globalization is the right way or not. However, I generally have observed that extreme reactions in the opposite directions of unfavorable trends usually aren’t the right responses either.
While globalization may be the bogey man in many people’s eyes, it has helped to contribute to the standard of living most of us enjoy now. Sure, there are many people who have been displaced professionally and personally by globalization but I’m not sure their situation is going to change much as a result of the U.S. withdrawing from the global stage and implementing protectionist/nationalist policies. The internet has had a lot to do with disruption and displacement too and will likely continue to be a far larger contributor to disruption and displacement than globalization will be going forward.
So in terms of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, maybe globalization is too hot and protectionism/nationalism is too cold. Perhaps something in between would be “just right”.