Finance: Research, Policy and Anecdotes

After Brexit another shock for globalisation and integration as we know it.  While we should never write history before it actually happens, there are a lot of indications that this might be the start of many upheavals in the political and economic global architecture and the trend does not seem toward more openness and integration (to put it mildly).  A U.S. that is withdrawing from the world, a Europe that is mired in a governance and economic if not even identity crisis and an Asia, which is changing alliances away from the U.S. towards China. Previously open societies are closing, the draw bridges are being pulled up, rational discourse is being replaced with shouting and insults. Nationalism, populism and strongmen reign!

After the fall of the Berlin wall, many in my generation had the feeling that things can get only better.  The end of the cold war, rapid spread of democracy across Europe and other parts of the world (e.g., in Latin America) and more open societies resulting in more opportunities. We, the Interrail generation, lived the European integration each summer, even though we still had to carry and show our ID cards or passports across Europe in the 1980s and 90s. Further integration and the definite end of any conflict in Europe seemed inevitable, even in spite of brutal setbacks such as the Balkan conflict.  This feeling has been supported by ample evidence that globalisation (trade but to a certain extent also financial integration) has helped the global economy grow and has pulled millions out of poverty in the developing world. The overwhelming majority of humanity is better off today than it was 30 years ago!  Have Western democracies become tired of the success of their model?

While the 2008 crisis sent a clear warning signal, the G20 cooperation and the swift and coordinated reaction by policy makers across the world prevented the worst and turned a potential second great depression into a great recession.  Eight years later, reality has caught up with us. Future history books might see 2016 as a turning point, with a long period of increasing integration, growth and wealth coming to an end.  These are interesting times, indeed!  However, soon enough we might wish back the boring times. 

9. Nov, 2016