Saturday, January 29, 2022

What the ‘squid game’ tells us about the changing face of globalization

As fresh Covid-19 restrictions cut this month, it’s a fair bet that millions of Western families will spend the holiday season glued to streaming services. It’s also a fair prediction that many will watch the wildly popular Netflix hit squid game, a violent dystopian fantasy originating from South Korea.

So far, so trivial, you might think. But underlying this viewing option is a symbol of the changing nature of globalization that is rather encouraging – and one that investors should pay attention to as we prepare for 2022.

Over the past few decades, the term “globalization” has become largely synonymous with Westernization, at least in the minds of the global business elite. The globalization of media content meant that Hollywood was exporting its hits; And when US media platform Netflix came into existence 24 years ago, it offered American-made fare, mostly to US-based consumers.

But squid game Is a Made-in-Korea product backed by Netflix, which this year has become the most-watched show in 90 countries around the world. Indeed, polls show that one in four Americans has watched it, while Spanish, Brazilian and French offerings produced for global audiences now litter the Netflix site. The globalization of the media, in other words, is no longer about Hollywood; Digitization has made this a multipolar affair.

And this is just a metaphor for what is happening in other areas. Think of fast fashion, where Chinese company Sheen now has a quarter of the US market, or social media, where another Chinese conglomerate, TikTok, has 1 billion global consumers. Then consider fintech, where Singapore is now such an innovation hub that the Bank for International Settlements opened its fintech innovation hub there instead of moving to Silicon Valley. Or think of development flows and how Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative is creating non-Western linkages in Asia and Africa.

This point about multi-polarity may seem obvious, as it has been emerging for some time. But it’s worth emphasizing right now, given the current gloom about globalization.

Over the years, Western pundits have often expressed concern that we are moving into a “globalization” phase. And no wonder. Although global financial integration increased in the early 21st century, it has flattened since the 2008 financial crisis, according to a Globalization Study released annually by DHL.

Trade wars and rising nationalism have also weakened global trade flows, while an authoritarian crackdown on digital freedom in countries such as China threatens to destroy the internet – and pandemic lockdowns have further shattered global supply chains .

However, it is possible that when future historians look back on 2022, they will see not only deglobalization, but an emerging re-globalization, or a kind of global connectivity driven by new, non-Western and non-traditional forces .

“Globalization had a very specific topology—it was the denomination of the dollar, shaped by Washington’s consent,” says Joshua Cooper Ramo, co-head of Kissinger Associates. “But globalization is a response to too much openness and too much momentum – a new, re-globalization model is coming. Most of Washington has not seen it yet. [but] The fight is again on the new topology of globalization.”

This may sound alarming, at least to those Washington observers. But it can also give a new impetus to global integration. Once again, consider the DHL Globalization Report, which is compiled by combining metrics about the movement of people, money, trade and information.

The latest survey, released late last month, shows that the global movement of people, capital and business collapsed in 2020 as the world absorbed the Covid-19 shock. The only globalization metric that remained strong was information due to the explosion in Internet use.

But even more surprising is the recent increase in global trade flows, despite disruptions in the supply chain. Capital movements have jumped dramatically, not only between Western countries but also among non-Western countries, amid a flurry of investment flows and cross-border mergers and acquisitions.

And while the growth of information flows has returned to the pre-pandemic trend (perhaps due to Internet nationalism), and the movement of people remains low, DHL calculated that the overall index of global integration was around 124 at the end of 2020 , compared to a baseline of 100 in 2000.

Yes, this is down from the pre-pandemic peak of 127 in 2019. But it is higher than the level of 119 recorded in 2007 – in other words, just before the financial crisis and at the high point of a Western-driven globalization wave. Beginning of 21st century.

In addition, DHL estimates its index will be around 130 by early 2022, setting a new peak. So, although the pandemic was a massive stress test for global connectivity, it seems that integration is now greater, not less, than before.

Is it because of “re-globalisation”? The data do not yet support this conclusion. But if you stream TV content this Christmas, consider the trend. Yes, the world may seem dystopian, xenophobic and hopeless now; But it is being created by digital innovation in exciting ways, in finance and business – as well as in our TV shows.

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Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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