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Globalized Crisis

If there is a bright side to the turmoil that has roiled the world economy since 2008, it is that it has not erupted everywhere simultaneously. But, as the crisis becomes ever more global in nature, the challenge for policymakers will be to contain the impulse to reduce engagement with the rest of the world.

PRINCETON – If there is a bright side to the turmoil that has roiled the global economy since 2008, it is that not every part of the world has erupted simultaneously. The first blow was the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, to which Europeans responded with self-satisfied reflections on the superior resilience of their social model. Then, in 2010, with the outbreak of the European debt crises, it was America’s turn for schadenfreude, while Asian countries pointed to the over-extended welfare state as the root of the problem.

Today, the world is obsessed with the slowdown in China and the woes of its stock market. Indeed, to some, what is happening in China may be a modern version of the American stock-market crash in 1929 – a shock that shakes the world. And it is not only the Chinese economy that has hit turbulence; Russia and Brazil are in much worse shape.

As globalization connects far-flung people and economies, the consequences are not always what was expected – or welcome. And, with the economic crisis becoming ever more global in nature, the next challenge for policymakers will be to try to mitigate its effects at home – and to contain their constituents’ impulse to reduce engagement with the rest of the world.

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