Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A globalised world?

Schumpeter has an interesting column based on Pankaj Ghemawat's latest book on globalisation. Ghemawat contends that the statistics don't bear out contentions about the world becoming flat- or flatter:
Mr Ghemawat points out that many indicators of global integration are surprisingly low. Only 2% of students are at universities outside their home countries; and only 3% of people live outside their country of birth. Only 7% of rice is traded across borders. Only 7% of directors of S&P 500 companies are foreigners—and, according to a study a few years ago, less than 1% of all American companies have any foreign operations. Exports are equivalent to only 20% of global GDP. Some of the most vital arteries of globalisation are badly clogged: air travel is restricted by bilateral treaties and ocean shipping is dominated by cartels.

...Foreign direct investment (FDI) accounts for only 9% of all fixed investment. Less than 20% of venture capital is deployed outside the fund’s home country. Only 20% of shares traded on stockmarkets are owned by foreign investors. Less than 20% of internet traffic crosses national’s levels of emigration pale beside those of a century ago, when 14% of Irish-born people and 10% of native Norwegians had emigrated. Back then you did not need visas.

Companies that operated on the 'flat earth' premise have actually burnt their fingers badly; the ones that were quick to adapt to local realities have done well.... The key question is whether globalisation will accelerate in one key respect: emigration. Demographics requires it should- Europe, Japan and the US all require foreign hands in a big way. But security considerations and xenophobia militate against it. Outsourcing is one way of dealing with the challenge of lower costs: instead of bringing in low cost labour, simply shift production to where costs are low.


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Anonymous said...

Interesting statistics. Seems we're living under hackneyed illusion that world is getting flatter with each day passing. Perhaps, many companies who've build their vision under the assumption of globalization, should change their tag lines, after crunching these statistics.