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by John Brian Shannon | June 7, 2016
Globalization was inevitable. Both the positives and negatives of globalization were inevitable. And we’re now moving into a more mature phase of globalization — a phase where common sense plays a much larger role.
After all, does it make more sense to import onions from thousands of miles away in Chile or Indonesia for example, or to grow them on the rooftop of your local big box grocery store?
Think of the CO2 emission savings alone as one way of many to demonstrate how unrestricted globalization works against our common good.
For years I’ve talked-up the benefits of ‘Regionalism‘ where the largest share of goods and services are provided to consumers and business by producers and manufacturers within that economic or geographic region.
It’s not only in regards to fresh produce. With 3D printing and a regional facility ‘the latest thing’ can be manufactured in minutes, regionally, although the online order may have been received thousands of miles away — resulting in faster shipping and larger numbers of (regional) jobs, as opposed to the One Big Factory model, building ‘the latest thing’ in Shenzhen, China.
Of course it works both ways.
For Chinese consumers who want the latest Ford F-150 pickup truck, does it make sense to have one shipped from thousands of miles away in North America, or does it make more sense that Ford builds an assembly plant in China (and hires local workers) and fills orders from there?
I think there is still more growth to be milked out of globalization, but the next logical step is Regionalism which will cut costs, improve profits, and give consumers and business more and better choices. In high unemployment jurisdictions I would expect to see rates fall — perhaps dramatically, while low unemployment jurisdictions may see tiny improvements.
Although I agree with international trade agreements in principle, TPP seems excessively weighted toward corporate interests and not toward consumers or national sovereignty. For that reason I’m against it. The cloud of secrecy surrounding TPP certainly hasn’t helped. And the fact that someone of the rare and high calibre of Elizabeth Warren has doubts about it, tells me everything that I need to know about it. Full stop.
However, any trade agreement that enhances trade flows while enhancing national sovereignty and can show a distinct benefit to consumers and business alike should be aggressively pursued.
For me it isn’t about abandoning globalization, it’s about globalization reaching its full potential without destroying sovereignty, consumer trust, and entire segments of the economy.
It’s more about continuing to grow globalization (whenever that makes sense) and adding regionalism to the mix (wherever that makes more sense) and enhancing national sovereignty.
The day that Apple Computer is building iPhones in factories in every region of the world, that Ford Motor Company has assembly plants in every second country, every piece of clothing is manufactured regionally to the designer’s exact specifications, and most fresh produce is grown within 100 miles of its target consumer, that’s when we will see the maximum benefit from our investment in globalization.
We are where we are in regards to globalization and it has been a qualified success. But the potential of globalization + regionalism is one whole order of magnitude greater.
- The New Backlash Against Globalization (Project Syndicate)
- Globalization: A Brief Overview (IMF)
- What is ‘Globalization’ video (Investopedia)
- The Role of the International Organisms in the Globalization Process (Tănăsescu et al., PDF)
- Political regionalism in International relations (Wikipedia)
- Economic regionalism in International relations (Encyclopædia Britannica)
by John Brian Shannon | April 22, 2016
When a thing isn’t working, it’s time to quit. Whether it’s a marriage or a political union there comes a time to say a respectful ‘goodbye’.
And it appears howevermuch joining the EU has propelled the UK economy, the social cost of millions of eastern European economic migrants and Levant refugees streaming into the UK is higher than British citizens are comfortable with.
The raison d’être for the creation of the EU is quite wonderful — inspired even. But there can be a difference between the theory of a thing and what has actually occurred.
Scary statistics have been trotted out in order to push Brit citizens into voting to stay in the EU, but when analyzed turn out to be speculative at best.
It looks like the EU project is in trouble. I wish them well, and I hope they solve their problems.
In the meantime, the UK must do what is best for the UK. And in my opinion, that means they should get out now, and invite the Scandinavian nations and Ireland to join The Commonwealth with the goal of increasing economic and social integration with those sovereign northern European nations. (The Scandinavian nations are gone anyway as far as EU membership is concerned. As soon as the first opportunity appears that meets optics standards, they’ll quit the EU)
If the UK, the Scandinavian countries, and Ireland form a loose economic and social cooperative union (or become members of a re-energized Commonwealth) it will immediately boost economic and social metrics across those nations, without the downsides of EU membership.
Without wishing any harm to the EU; The European Union can better concentrate on southern European issues with Germany and France leading the way, and without northern European concerns to complicate things.
I wouldn’t rule out a future UK/Scandinavian nations/Ireland bid (as one bloc) to accede to the EU once things have stabilized there.
But for now, the United Kingdom and northern European countries can do better by joining The Commonwealth and working towards interdependent socio-economic success.
The question is; Do we choose ‘safe’ or do we choose ‘Carpe Diem’?
The European Union is deep in it’s own problems for the foreseeable future, and in that context I make the case for the UK to leave the EU. As there’s no precedent for the Brexit situation it could now become anything the UK government wants it to become.
How about this?
- The UK leaves the EU and adopts a similar relationship to the EU, as Norway presently enjoys.
- The UK invites all Scandinavian nations and Ireland to become part of The Commonwealth.
- The UK institutes a 1% Tobin Tax, keeping one-quarter of one percent for administrative purposes, and remits the remaining three-quarters of one percent to the IMF — to be held in a special account that only the UK government can spend on the UK and other Commonwealth nations.
- Every Commonwealth nation should phase-in a 1% Tobin Tax over a 5-year period. And just as in the UK, one-quarter of one percent would be retained by each Commonwealth nation to cover collection and administration costs of the Tobin Tax.
- It’s obvious that perhaps a trillion pounds of Tobin Tax revenue would accrue quickly — and be available to each Commonwealth nation to spend in any other Commonwealth nation. (Need a new SASOL headquarters with a London address? Perhaps you need to double the export capacity in the port of Accra? Or, with the proper funding you can finally build that 1 GigaWatt wind farm and export billions of dollars/pounds/rands worth of electricity to neighbouring countries. Now you have instant funding!)
- If you’re the UK there’s one thing you want, countries lining up to join The Commonwealth! And within 5-years of joining The Commonwealth, beginning to contribute their own Tobin Tax revenue to the special IMF account which is only used to strengthen trade links with other Commonwealth economies.
- The ultimate goal of course, would be for the entire Commonwealth to copy the Norwegian economic model (as uniformly as possible) in order to attain Norway’s enviable statistics — such as the world’s highest per capita income, among the world’s highest productivity, free university for all citizens and residents, free universal healthcare ranked almost as highly as the UK healthcare system, and so much more. (Keep in mind Norway’s #1 ranking on the Social Progress Index (SPI) and very high ranking on the UN Happiness Index. And remember, all positive indicators flow from those two stats, not the other way around)
The question would then become; “Which country wouldn’t want to join The Commonwealth?”
In this, the 21st-century, it should never be a case of looking at a glass, half-full. It should always be about creating a massively better system; One that is a whole order of magnitude better than the presently sputtering economic model.
Previous generations of politicians rose to meet the challenges of their time, and likewise the UK government must also rise to the so-called challenges of our time.
But meeting the challenges of our time must be considered passé as the UK is sufficiently advanced that it should blow past the challenges of our time — in the same way a Bentley Mulsanne Speed blows past a Trabant on the M6 motorway.
Who Should Lead an Economically-Empowered Commonwealth?
Whomever is the most recently dismissed Prime Minister of any Commonwealth country should (within 180 days of losing office) be given the top job — Secretary General of The Commonwealth.
In that way, a flow of different approaches from highly empowered and knowledgeable people will lead The Commonwealth of Nations and each former PM will undoubtedly leave their stamp on the broad policies of that organization.
A former Indian Prime Minister sitting as Secretary General might advance the cause of microgrid power generation across all developing Commonwealth nations, while the next SecGen (from the UK for example) might take up the cause of getting resources from all Commonwealth nations to China and other major markets. And during the time of an African Secretary General of The Commonwealth, the preferred cause might be improvement of all Commonwealth port facilities in order to dramatically expedite trade — getting Commonwealth goods to every market, faster, fresher, and better.
What matters to me, is that each Secretary General leaves a positive impact on The Commonwealth using his or her unique worldview, experience, contacts, and ability.
It will be this synergy that will make The Commonwealth all that it can and should be.
The Commonwealth of Nations is a group of interdependent countries.
“The Commonwealth is a name for countries which were part of the British Empire before they became independent. This group of states works together on many important matters, like business, health and the fight against poverty.” — Wikipedia
by John Brian Shannon | April 10, 2016
Recently, it has been posited that the IMF needs structural reforms to make it more responsive to the needs of developing nations, by removing the (de facto) prominent position held by the International Monetary Fund’s major shareholders.
“For their own sake – and that of an institution that is needed today more than ever – the Fund’s major shareholders must leave the building.” — Professor Ashoka Mody in Project Syndicate
In the absence of a better IMF vision that would surely be the plan. Everything is right about it, there is nothing better to be done.
But in the presence of a visionary plan for the IMF and a ramping-up of it’s mission by one order of magnitude, depowering the Fund’s major shareholders from their overarching role must be considered ‘Plan B’.
Meaningful IMF Reform
If IMF benefactors, supporters and beneficiaries can agree to implement a 1% Tobin Tax within their respective jurisdictions with the proceeds used to fund IMF operations, then the International Monetary Fund will become one order of magnitude more effective, and this must become our logical ‘Plan A’.
Nations contributing their quarterly Tobin Tax proceeds (minus fair and uniformly applied administration fees) would thenceforth receive robust support including proactive advice, IMF expertise, and economic assistance designed to improve and strengthen their economy. (Think: ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’)
Both minor and major shareholders would remain within the International Monetary Fund membership via their respective Tobin Tax contributions.
By displacing the present funding scheme with a (universal, among members-only) Tobin Tax funding scheme the IMF would suddenly have single-digit trillions of dollars available to help it advance member economies.
Yes, it is bold and daring. And yes, a lot of money could accrue. And on account of that, the International Monetary Fund would need to become proactive, sending targeted assistance on a ‘just-in-time delivery’ basis, with easy repayment terms for developing nations.
If generous IMF funding for job creation exists, national economies will suddenly find themselves structurally sound in months instead of decades, and therefore, require lower levels of future assistance.
I’m not for a minute suggesting, throwing shiploads of money at problems in an effort to make them disappear because we suddenly have shiploads of money available; Rather, I’m suggesting that such a lucrative funding mechanism could finally allow the IMF to become all that it can and should be, and should have been all along.
Instead of pushing major donor nations away in an attempt to lessen their powerful influence on today’s finite IMF funding — why not change the entire conversation to one that is an ‘all-IMF-members-contribute-to-the-IMF-via-a-1%-Tobin-Tax’ conversation and are ‘thereby generously and proactively assisted’ by the International Monetary Fund.
The question; ‘How can we afford to fund what needs to be done?’ need never be considered again.
Note about Non-Participant IMF Members:
Nations that decide against contributing to the IMF via a national Tobin Tax contribution programme would lose the ability to benefit from the IMF — except in the case where ‘country A’ would hire the IMF directly on an ad-hoc basis, to ‘survey’ or ‘comment’ or ‘create a report on’ the economy or prospects of ‘country A’.