The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s


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By the millennials those born between the first half of the 80s and the first half of the 90s, AKA Generation Y will have inherited the world. Well, the workplace anyway. Gen Z has never known a world without social media.

They use hashtags to describe feelings and objects. Smartphones are a fundamental need, as is immediate and top-speed WiFi, all the time. This is the generation that will shape business travel in the next decade. In business travel, these new stereotypes will include obligation meeters whose travel choices are restricted by the need to meet pre-set objective.

Their needs and behaviors are shaped by their need to be in a certain place at a certain time. Inevitably, segmentation of this type is hotly debated.

In the U. The drive to make managed travel programs more personalized will also continue well into the next decade, fuelled by the possibilities afforded by the Internet of Things IoT. The is the network that connects devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other electronic items with the software and connectivity that joins them all up.

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Ultimately the Internet of Things will make total personalization of travel products and services possible. Mobile has transformed the way we search, book and pay for travel. These days, as sizable constituencies have voted in country after country for anti-free-trade policies, or candidates that promise to limit them, the old self-assurance is gone. Millions have rejected, with uncertain results, the punishing logic that globalisation could not be stopped.

“The challenge is to figure out how fast and how far to go.”

The backlash has swelled a wave of soul-searching among economists, one that had already begun to roll ashore with the financial crisis. How did they fail to foresee the repercussions? I n the heyday of the globalisation consensus, few economists questioned its merits in public. But in , the Harvard economist Dani Rodrik published a slim book that created a stir. Rodrik pointed to a series of dramatic recent events that challenged the idea that growing free trade would be peacefully accepted.

In , France had adopted a programme of fiscal austerity in order to prepare for entry into the eurozone; trade unions responded with the largest wave of strikes since What was the pathology of which all of these disturbing events were symptoms? Since the s, and especially following the collapse of the Soviet Union, lowering barriers to international trade had become the axiom of countries everywhere. Tariffs had to be slashed and regulations spiked.

Trade unions, which kept wages high and made it harder to fire people, had to be crushed. These moves were generally applauded by economists. After all, their profession had long embraced the principle of comparative advantage — simply put, the idea countries will trade with each other in order to gain what each lacks, thereby benefiting both. In theory, then, the globalisation of trade in goods and services would benefit consumers in rich countries by giving them access to inexpensive goods produced by cheaper labour in poorer countries, and this demand, in turn, would help grow the economies of those poorer countries.

Workers were suffering more spells of unemployment, more volatility in the hours they were expected to work. While many economists attributed much of the insecurity to technological change — sophisticated new machines displacing low-skilled workers — Rodrik suggested that the process of globalisation should shoulder more of the blame. It was, in particular, the competition between workers in developing and developed countries that helped drive down wages and job security for workers in developed countries.

Over and over, they would be held hostage to the possibility that their business would up and leave, in order to find cheap labour in other parts of the world; they had to accept restraints on their salaries — or else. Opinion polls registered their strong levels of anxiety and insecurity, and the political effects were becoming more visible. The inevitable result would be a huge political backlash. As Rodrik would later recall, other economists tended to dismiss his arguments — or fear them.

Over the course of the s, an unwieldy international coalition had begun to contest the notion that globalisation was good. Activists were intent on showing a much darker picture, revealing how the record of globalisation consisted mostly of farmers pushed off their land and the rampant proliferation of sweatshops.

In , the movement reached a high point when a unique coalition of trade unions and environmentalists managed to shut down the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. In a state of panic, economists responded with a flood of columns and books that defended the necessity of a more open global market economy, in tones ranging from grandiose to sarcastic.

Animated timeline shows how Silicon Valley became a $2.8 trillion neighborhood

Language like this lent the fight for globalisation the air of an epochal struggle. Arguments against the global justice movement rested on the idea that the ultimate benefits of a more open and integrated economy would outweigh the downsides. The fact that proponents of globalisation now felt compelled to spend much of their time defending it indicates how much visibility the global justice movement had achieved by the early s. Still, over time, the movement lost ground, as a policy consensus settled in favour of globalisation.

The proponents of globalisation were determined never to let another gathering be interrupted.

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They stopped meeting in major cities, and security everywhere was tightened. Above all, there was a widespread perception that globalisation was working as it was supposed to. The local adverse effects that activists pointed to — sweatshop labour, starving farmers — were increasingly obscured by the staggering GDP numbers and fantastical images of gleaming skylines coming out of China. With some lonely exceptions — such as Rodrik and the former World Bank chief and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz — the pursuit of freer trade became a consensus position for economists, commentators and the vast majority of mainstream politicians, to the point where the benefits of free trade seemed to command blind adherence.

In a TV interview, Thomas Friedman was asked whether there was any free trade deal he would not support. I just knew two words: free trade. I n the wake of the financial crisis, the cracks began to show in the consensus on globalisation, to the point that, today, there may no longer be a consensus. Economists who were once ardent proponents of globalisation have become some of its most prominent critics.

The Roaring Nineties

Erstwhile supporters now concede, at least in part, that it has produced inequality, unemployment and downward pressure on wages. Nuances and criticisms that economists only used to raise in private seminars are finally coming out in the open. By , he was having doubts: the data seemed to suggest that the effect was much larger than he had suspected. In the years that followed, the crash, the crisis of the eurozone and the worldwide drop in the price of oil and other commodities combined to put a huge dent in global trade.

Among these implications appears to be a rising distrust of the establishment that is blamed for the inequality. You need to make policy which brings people to think again that their societies are run in a decent and civilised way. If the critics of globalisation could be dismissed before because of their lack of economics training, or ignored because they were in distant countries, or kept out of sight by a wall of police, their sudden political ascendancy in the rich countries of the west cannot be so easily discounted today.

Over the past year, the opinion pages of prestigious newspapers have been filled with belated, rueful comments from the high priests of globalisation — the men who appeared to have defeated the anti-globalisers two decades earlier. Perhaps the most surprising such transformation has been that of Larry Summers. Possessed of a panoply of elite titles — former chief economist of the World Bank, former Treasury secretary, president emeritus of Harvard, former economic adviser to President Barack Obama — Summers was renowned in the s and s for being a blustery proponent of globalisation.

For Summers, it seemed, market logic was so inexorable that its dictates prevailed over every social concern. In an infamous World Bank memo from , he held that the cheapest way to dispose of toxic waste in rich countries was to dump it in poor countries, since it was financially cheaper for them to manage it. Over the last two years, a different, in some ways unrecognizable Larry Summers has been appearing in newspaper editorial pages. More circumspect in tone, this humbler Summers has been arguing that economic opportunities in the developing world are slowing, and that the already rich economies are finding it hard to get out of the crisis.

Barring some kind of breakthrough, Summers says, an era of slow growth is here to stay. O ne curious thing about the pro-globalisation consensus of the s and s, and its collapse in recent years, is how closely the cycle resembles a previous era. Pursuing free trade has always produced displacement and inequality — and political chaos, populism and retrenchment to go with it. Every time the social consequences of free trade are overlooked, political backlash follows. But free trade is only one of many forms that economic integration can take.

History seems to suggest, however, that it might be the most destabilising one. Nearly all economists and scholars of globalisation like to point to the fact that the economy was rather globalised by the early 20th century. As European countries colonised Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, they turned their colonies into suppliers of raw materials for European manufacturers, as well as markets for European goods.

Meanwhile, the economies of the colonisers were also becoming free-trade zones for each other. In addition to military force, what underpinned this convenient arrangement for imperial nations was the gold standard.

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Under this system, each national currency had an established gold value: the British pound sterling was backed by grains of pure gold; the US dollar by This entailed that exchange rates were also fixed: a British pound was always equal to 4. The stability of exchange rates meant that the cost of doing business across borders was predictable.


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Just like the eurozone today, you could count on the value of the currency staying the same, so long as the storehouse of gold remained more or less the same. When there were gold shortages — as there were in the s — the system stopped working. To protect the sanctity of the standard under conditions of stress, central bankers across the Europe and the US tightened access to credit and deflated prices.

The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s
The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s The Future of Business. Global Issues in the 80s and 90s

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