For better or worse, I think Gordon Chang is right. China is on course for what at best may be a military government, and at worst may be a full-on civil war- and it could happen literally overnight. This might not sound like a big deal to most of you reading this, but consider that China is perhaps one of the largest players in the Global Supply Chain, and is manufacturing products (or components of products) that you buy everyday. Almost all computer manufacturing, for example, is dependent on Chinese factories at some level.
If political turmoil happens, all that would literally be shut down overnight, and it could be weeks/months/years to get it back.
What will this do to the global economy?
All our eggs have been placed in one basket by greed and exploitive neo-liberal capitalism, and heaven help us if someone knocks over that basket! (A basket we have no control or influence over, I might add.)
Just finished watching this amazing 2 part interview with John Raulston Saul that aired on TVO’s The Agenda this week. A really fascinating discussion of the real nature of Globalization and how and why Saul believes it failed.
I’m not sure I agree with everything Saul says, but most of it does make a large degree of sense. One of the most interesting things he explained (for me) was about the “Oil Crisis” that occurred in the 1970’s, of which Oil was only a part of the problem. The short version is that what really happened in the 1970’s was that we went from an economy of scarcity (there not being enough product) to an economy of surplus (lots of product available from multiple competing sources) and this rocked our whole financial system. Suddenly, there wasn’t big profit in making things anymore because there would always be so much competition out there to drive prices (and profits) down. Globalization was an attempt to solve this problem by “creating new markets through pulling down borders and bringing up standards of living”, thus creating more customers and in theory driving up prices again by making products scarce again. Of course, I’d say it didn’t work out so well for many reasons, including that those new markets became our factories where where produced products even more cheaply, and instead drove prices and profits down even more!
An interesting sidenote is that this is why in the 1980’s we saw a rise in Stock Markets and financial instruments, because making money by real investing didn’t produce the kind of profit people wanted anymore, so it became about playing with money in order to produce more money. Think about it, people don’t buy stocks because they care about a product or company, they buy them because they want to ride the wave and dump them at a time when they can make more profit from that stock.
Anyways, enough of my thoughts on the subject, spend the 50 minutes it will take to watch this 2 part interview (especially the second part) and give Saul a listen. It’s one of the most interesting interviews I’ve seen in a while, and I may just pick up his most recent book and give it a read.
If you get the chance, absolutely watch/listen to TVO’s interviews with Misha Glenny on cybercrime. They’re really fascinating stuff, even to someone like me who already knows a bit about the topic. Glenny covers not only how it’s done, but who does it, and how they get involved with this shadowy underworld. He also talks about the most vulnerable place for cybercrime in the world- North America. Why? Give them a watch.
If Ian Fleming – author of the James Bond spy novels – were alive today, and wanted to write a non-fiction book about the burgeoning cybercrime industry and the ingenious characters involved in it, he’d be too late. British journalist Misha Glenny, former Central Europe correspondent for the BBC World Service, has already written that book. Drawing on over 200 hours of interviews with players on both sides of the law, Glenny, in DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia, weaves the shadowy, expansive global network of cyber criminals and the police that track them into a terse crime thriller.