London Business School |
Globalisation: Is the Consensus Breaking Down?

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JASON: Thanks so much for having me here - it's great to be here, especially on this topic - and [I] would start answering that question by telling you, I lived in Washington for about 14 years. Only once did I see people setting fires to cars in the street, in what was essentially a riot. That was in the year 2000, plus or minus a year; the unemployment rate was incredibly low; wage growth was incredibly high - it was pretty much among the best economies the United States has ever had - and those riots were against globalisation. There were much bigger ones at the WTO meeting in Seattle in the year 2000; so the first part of my answer is, there never really was a consensus around globalisation. In fact, if you had to say there was a consensus, the consensus was probably more like foreigners were stealing our jobs and terrible, than that it was a good thing; so I think that's the first part. Now the second thing though, is there has been a general trend of increased mistrust of elites; of increased disintermediation of information - people get it from their friends on Twitter and Facebook, rather than from the Financial Times or The Economist; and just a general growing suspicion about foreigners, immigrants, everything.

So I think you take a constant worry about trade and a constant worry about globalisation, and you layer on top of that that the elites just are less in charge of it now than they used to; and that means a lot comes out. So I think that's the second most important factor; the third, I think, is that the economic situation has contributed to it; the financial crisis, the prolonged consequences of it; the entry of China into the global economy was a massive, one-time event, that I think is actually in the rearview mirror; now it's sort of a more of a steady thing than a massive growth. So I think the economic factors have exacerbated everything I've said, but I think they're less important than the baseline distrust of globalisation, combined with the growing distrust of elites across the board, not just on this topic.

LUCIAN: Hello, everyone; thank you, Linda, for inviting me here. I'd like to say from the outset - as a discipline bureaucrat - that my views expressed tonight are going to be purely personal, and they do not necessarily reflect - they may not actually reflect at all - the official position of the European Commission or its 28-still member states. Now going back to your question, I think; when you say 'Has there been ever a consensus on globalisation, or is it broken down now, has it been broken down for a long time', I think you have to phrase it a little bit more specifically. Because in many respects the answer's yes and no. I mean, in different epistemological circles among economists - I would agree entirely with Jason. So among different people with similar backgrounds, similar worldviews-

JASON: I was speaking for the Commission, by the way. [LAUGHS]


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