Fragmentation or Sustainable Recovery?

Every morning I spend about an hour or so scanning news feeds from a range of sources with the primary of objective of updating my database of world trends – and of course getting ideas for blog posts!

Living here in London we have a saying about buses. When you’re waiting for a bus (sometimes longer than anticipated) they arrive together at the same time. Sometimes articles and thoughts in news feeds are the same.

This time it’s the turn of commentary on the prospects of failed globalization and the emergence of a fragmented world – something that regular followers of my blog will be familiar with.

The first to hit my screen was a piece by Robert Kagan[1] pointing towards the signs of increasing US isolationism and more particularly a feeling in some countries that if the going gets tough in terms of future military stand-offs, then the US might not be there to back them up. Incidentally, if you want a view of the challenges facing globalization try reading Kagan’s book The Return of History and the End of Dreams.

The second[2] was the issue of North Korea and the implications of a regime collapse fuelled, interestingly, by failed attempts at state controlled capitalism. Apparently, East Germany went down a similar route immediately before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The process of North Korea’s collapse could of course bring the first test of the US’s willingness to open a third front bringing us back to Kagan’s point. For those of you interested in looking a a range of scenarios around the collapse of North Korea, please see O’Hanlon’s work[3].

The third article[4] took really the same underlying perspective as the second, of nations and interests seeking recognition on the world stage, warning that a failure to find a lasting settlement in the Middle East could spawn a new wave of international instability.

So, what has all this to do with business and strategy?

Well quite a lot. The President of the World Bank, Richard Zoellick[5] points out that the challenge for us all, but particularly the developed economies, is securing sustainable growth. From the perspective of the developed economies (and arguably even more so for those in my bloc #3 – the Great Recession’s losers), sustainable growth depends upon investment in and demand from the developing world.

So a sustainable recovery depends upon a largely united world.

[1] R. Kagan, “A hollow ‘reset’ with Russia,” The Washington Post, May. 2010.
[2] I. Bremmer, “Dangerous Insecurity,” The New York Times, May. 2010.
[3] M. O’Hanlon, “North Korea Collapse Scenarios,” Brookings, Jun. 2009.
[4] S. Hariri, “Mideast peace: It’s a global issue, says Lebanon’s prime minister,” Los Angeles Times, May. 2010.
[5] R. Zoellick, “Look to the developing world,”, May. 2010.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *