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The End of Globalization as We Know It

The tension between the unprecedented need for global collective action and a growing aspiration to rebuild political communities behind national borders is a defining challenge for today’s policymakers. And it is currently unclear whether they can reconcile the two agendas.

PARIS – For most people, globalization has for decades been another name for across-the-board liberalization. Starting mainly in the 1980s, governments allowed goods, services, capital, and data to move across borders, with few controls. Market capitalism triumphed, and its economic rules applied worldwide. As the title of Branko Milanovic’s latest book correctly states, capitalism was finally alone.

True, there were other aspects of globalization that bore little relation to market capitalism. The globalization of science and information broadened access to knowledge in unprecedented ways. Through increasingly international civic action, climate campaigners and human-rights defenders coordinated their initiatives as never before. Meanwhile, governance advocates argued early on that only the globalization of policies could balance the forward march of markets.

But these other sides of globalization never measured up to the economic dimension. The globalization of policies was especially disappointing, with the 2008 financial crisis epitomizing how governance had failed.

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