Deglobalization as a Global Challenge

CIGI Paper No. 135

June 28, 2017

The world is threatened by backlashes against globalization, or “deglobalization,” and, remarkably, these are particularly pronounced in the countries that drove the construction of an international order in the second half of the twentieth century. There are also attempts to build an alternative new “globalization 2.0,” which rely on infrastructure investment as a way of building trade and financial ties that circumvent previous linkages. This paper looks at the interrelations between moves toward trade protection, the limitations of movements of people, the regulation of capital flows and the attempts to restrict information access. Strains appear when the political institutions that are supposed to “manage” globalization, at either a national or a supranational level, cannot live up to expectations, and a cycle of disillusion and disenchantment sets in. The paper then considers how international governance might best work in the current circumstances — as a quasi-judicial process, as a provider of confidential advice about policy linkages and spillovers, as a public voice in a debate or as a manager of data openness. The latter aspect, coordinating the availability of continually updated big data, may constitute the best response to the potential offered by a radically transformed technology of communications. It will also be important to frame this data in a common language, creating what the poet Goethe in the early nineteenth century termed “world literacy.”

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