Globalization could be doomed — here's a chilling preview of what that world could look like
Robots warring thousands of miles away from their controller, obese citizens who has never left their country, and a reduction in international trade.
That's one possible result of an end-of-globalization scenario.
Credit Suisse published a study in September asking what would cause globalization to end, and what would happen if it did?
Globalization has been a powerful force, impacting economies and societies around the world, according to the study.
"In recent years, the path that globalization is taking has become obstacle strewn and much less clear."
The study highlighted a number of potential consequences of globalization coming to an end and going into reverse, ranging from reduced food imports and exports to increased civil strife.
Credit Suisse also notes that though an end-of-globalization scenario "can be both chilling and entertaining" — it seems that "at the moment we are far from that."
Scroll down to read how it could all play out:Human interactions will change "We are still far from a truly globalized digital sphere. Cultural, linguistic and historical barriers strongly compartmentalize the internet. It is an unlikely scenario, but digital interactions might make actual contact with other parts of the world less important," the Credit Suisse note stated.
Less trade and cooperation between nations
3D printing technology could make it easier and cheaper to produce goods and services on home soil. That could mean less trade and less interaction between nations and their companies.
Countries might also choose to increase trade barriers through tariffs, according to the report. "We also note the relative increase in the imposition of non-tariff barriers, especially since the formation of the WTO in 1995, as an indirect barrier to trade is also a potential threat to globalization along with trade sanctions," the report said.
"We are still far from a truly globalized digital sphere. Cultural, linguistic and historical barriers strongly compartmentalize the internet. It is an unlikely scenario, but digital interactions might make actual contact with other parts of the world less important," the Credit Suisse note stated.
The growing automation sector could lead to robotics warfare, which will lower casualties and the risk to human life. It could also make war seem less costly than it is now, since robots are more replaceable than people.
In this dystopian scenario, countries would be much more willing to engage in battle than they are now — leading to more global political instability and the breakdown of international relations.
Internet security could tighten around the globe
Given the growing threat of cyber espionage, countries might try to insulate themselves by creating closed national networks like the one that exists in North Korea.
Developing countries like Iran and China are currently far more stringent about keeping control of the internet than more developed nations.
Rampant obesity and malnutrition
There were 42 million children under the age of five who were either obese or overweight in 2013, while 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2014. At the other end of the spectrum, 805 million people registered as undernourished in 2012 to 2014, according to the UN.
"Food security in forms of food supply and individuals' access to it could become a major political issue, especially in the most unstable and vulnerable countries," said Credit Suisse.
These twin issues will have to be tackled through international cooperation, according to the report.
'More comprehensive and increasing international cooperation among countries would be highly important in the fight against the imbalances of obesity and undernourishment," the Credit Suisse note stated.
"Being overly dependent on food imports is a concern for many countries, possibly leading them to shy away from globalization in food markets. The Russian export ban on wheat in 2010 and China's goal of self-reliance for all major crops are just two examples," the note stated," the note stated.
Energy exports and imports will also drop
"Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or hydro energy have the potential to decentralize energy production, lessening the need for energy imports in many countries. While it will still be economically reasonable to import energy from the cheapest producer (e.g. solar energy from North Africa to Europe); the desire to be more energy independent may lead many countries to reduce global interdependence," the note stated.
That will be good for the environment
International trade growth has "cumulatively caused a substantial dislocation in global temperatures and weather cycles," according to the report.
An reduction in international trade could lead to less climate change, as there is less need for transport and less exporting and importing.
The world could go through a "reversal in transitions to democracy"
Democracy is "transient", according to the report, with the political system already looking less effective than it did 20 years ago.
"Less democratic forms of government (are) being perceived to produce economic success and new regional institutions replacing the activities of world ones. New institutions—such as sovereign wealth funds and fiscal councils—are amongst the more prominent new actors on the institutional stage," the note stated.
Cultural differences such as religion and language will become key
"The world is increasingly undercut by fault lines in terms of religion, climate change, language, military development and indebtedness to name a few," the note stated, referencing the increase in global terrorism.
There will be more currency wars
A possible future scenario has currency wars in store, hurting the international market as countries use their currency as an economic weapon.
"The latest IMF report on FX reserves suggests that more than 62% of known allocated reserves are in USD, a share broadly held constant since the advent of the EUR in 1999," the report stated.
A rise in the cost of capital
While the continuation of globalization means lower cost of capital, the end of globalization heralds the opposite.
Increased civil strife
An end to globalization could lead to increased poverty and civil strife, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
"First, impediments to exports from developing countries worsen poverty in those countries," the NBER report stated.
Here is a summary of the risks
Trade and financial flows: Barriers to trade and protectionism increase
Markets: Fragmentation; rise in the cost of capital
Currency: Currency wars
Economic growth: Domestic focused: slower. Shocks from debt, inequality, climate and geopolitics
Corporations: National champions. Anti-MNCs (Multi-national corporations)
Global governance: Open conflicts. Geopolitical military clashes. Climate events.
Forms of government: Reversals in transitions to democracy
People flows: Breakdown for migration. Social exclusion of migrant population.
Social and human development: Increased poverty and civil strife. Rise of anti-globalization socio-political movements.
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