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The death of globalisation: what we gain, we lose

World

The death of globalisation: what we gain, we lose

As the war in Ukraine speeds up the decline of international trade, it is time to start thinking the unthinkable

Matthew Yglesias

At the dawn of the 20th century, Norman Angell famously (or infamously) predicted that the era of global commercial integration had made great power conflict so costly and destructive as to be unthinkable.

A few years later, the outbreak of World War 1 proved him right about the cost and destruction, but wrong about being unthinkable. The Great War ended the first era of globalisation, and it took generations to rebuild the level of worldwide integration that pertained before the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a much smaller conflict than World War 1, and the trade disruptions associated with the US/European quasi-embargo on Russia are smaller than the British blockade of the Central Powers. But the clash is nonetheless a giant step away from globalisation — and, unlike World War 1, it comes at a time when the world has already been moving away from economic integration: trade’s share of global GDP peaked in 2008, and has been falling for the past decade...

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