From 'hyperglobalisation' to 'slowbalisation'

AuthorZumer, Klemen; Navarra, Cecilia; Titievskaia, Jana; Stamegna, Carla; Kononenko, Vadim
Slowing down or changing track?
1. From 'hyperglobalisation' to 'slowbalisation'
Globalisation refers to the growing interdependence of
different economies, people, and cultures brought about
by cross-border movement of people, goods, services,
capital and data. Economic globalisation refers to the
interdependence of nations through international
trade and investment. Globalisation has brought about
economic growth, raised millions out of poverty, fostered
productivity gains for firms, and facilitated the spread of
people, technological development and new ideas.
Globalisation has also been accompanied by rising
inequality, encouraged production offshoring, citizen
dissatisfaction, disease transmission and challenges to
1.1. Hyperglobalisation
The end of the Cold War set the scene for a period that is sometimes referred to as the golden era of
globalisation, or hyperglobalisation.1 Far from being the first 'globalisation' wave, it has some
specific characteristics.2 One of the most influential contributors to this narrative, the economist and
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman famously declared the post-1989 world 'to be flat'.
According to Friedman, various 'flattening forces' (e.g. new technologies, such as the internet,
global supply chains, offshoring) converged into a sort of open global platform for economic
competition. This was 'the inexorable integration of markets, nation states and technologies to a
degree never witnessed before in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations, and nation
states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper.'3 After the end of the Cold War,
new realities of economic integration and growing contacts between countries, businesses and
people became the main framework for a new master discourse, in which global economic
integration was the central definitive concept. Hyperglobalisation represented the fusion of US-led
market globalism, economic neoliberalism and consumerist individualism.
The 1990s wave of economic integration, spearheaded by the USA, was expected to bring global
benefits, including an impetus for international cooperation. The end of the Cold War gave a new
impulse to the aspiration towards global governance institutions (e.g. the World Trade Organization
(WTO), the Kyoto Protocol). The mandate of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on cross-border
capital flows was strengthened.4 European integration proceeded with subsequent treaties, and the
deepening of the single market. Bilateral and plurilateral preferential trade agreements
proliferated, and hundreds of trade deals were concluded between the years 1990 and 2010. As a
result, the average level of tariffs fell worldwide, further boosting cross-border trade. Offshoring
production abroad contributed to the expansion of economic globalisation. Companies began
1 M. Kessler and A. Subramanian, The Hyperglobalization of Trade and Its Future, Working Paper 13-16, PIIE, 2013.
2 T. I. Palley, Three globalizations, not two: Rethinking the history and economics of trade and globalization. European
Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, 15(2), 174-192, 2018.
3 T. L. Friedman, The lexus and the olive tree, Anchor Books, May 2000.
4 J. Pisani-Ferry, Should we give up on global governance?, Bruegel 2018.

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