Economic Protectionism

One of the trends that I talked about in my book, Future Files, was that globalisation was creating a strong counter-trend of localisation and that eventually we would see a rise in nationalism and economic protectionism. Well sure enough it’s happening.

India has just banned all imports of Chinese built toys for six months. India gets about 50% of its toys from China and exports are worth around GBP £350 million per year to the Chinese economy. Meanwhile, in the UK there are calls for “British Jobs for British Workers”. It’s much the same story in North America and elsewhere.

So far all fairly obvious. But what are some of the other consequences of a global slowdown?

In my view economics deeply influences politics so we can expect the economic situation to deeply define politics for at least the next 2-3 years. The bad news is that we will probably see a swing towards extremism and there could easily be a significant swing to the far-right.

The model here is the politics of the 1930s, where economic woes fanned the flames of far-right extremism in Europe but also of racist movements such as the KKK in the US. Don’t think that this could be a slow shift either. If recent events tell us anything it’s surely that we live in a globally connected world where ideas and actions can travel at extraordinary speed. I hope this isn’t 1939 returning.

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