Tuesday, May 5, 2020

5/5/20: A simple view of Globalization: some thoughts

Globalization in  retreat chart via PIIE: https://www.piie.com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/pandemic-adds-momentum-deglobalization-trend

A neat visual summary of the extent of economic openness and globalization, via trade dimension alone. The caveats here are that this only captures trade in goods & services flows (see https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2017/05/are-you-open/), but ignores capital flows and the extent of globalization-induced complexity within modern economic systems.

We tend to think about globalization as a mass-type measurement, where the volume or the value of flows is what matters. Alas, things are more complex. Mass measurements should be properly adjusted for risks inherent in the flows and stocks, including geopolitical risks. Imagine a flow of goods from China to the U.S. as opposed to the same volume flow of the same goods from China to Ecuador. Geopolitical risks and uncertainties, as well as non-monetary costs/values involved in the two flows are distinct. Similarly, consider a set stock of capital from the U.S. domiciled in, say, the Netherlands as opposed to, say, in Russia. Once again, even when nominal values are identical, risk-adjusted values are distinct.

In simple terms, as neat as the above chart might be, it does not even begin to reflect the VUCA/risk-indicative nature and volumes of globalization-related flows and stocks.

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