The rise of anti-globalism sentiments has recently inundated world politics, the media and our attention.

Indeed with the 2016 Brexit referendum, the rise of global nationalism and not forgetting the 2016 election of Donald J Trump – all seems to attest that such has been the case in our recent history.

Paradoxical as it may seem at a glance, is globalism really in any danger?

The data tells us an interesting story.

It is true that international trade volume, as measured by world merchandise trade as a percentage of GDP, shows a gradual decreasing trend after hitting its apex of 51.54% in 2008.

Absolute trade volume has seen a gradual increase, but world trade volume to GDP ratio has been downward sloping since 2008.

Source: World Trade Organization and World Bank.
is Globalism dead?
Source: United Nations Population Division, Workbook: UN_MigrantStockTotal_2019 Note: International migrant stock is the number of people born in a country other than that in which they live. It also includes refugees.

However, different data shows another story on other aspects important to the globalism movement.

International migrant stock, as measured by people that are born in a country other than in which they live, has been increasing since the 2000’s, albeit at a gradual rate.

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Source: OECD (2019), FDI stocks (indicator). doi: 10.1787/80eca1f9-en (Accessed on 17 December 2019) Note: (1)Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks measure the total level of direct investment at a given point in time, usually the end of a quarter or of a year. The outward FDI stock is the value of the resident investors’ equity in and net loans to enterprises in foreign economies.

Despite the rise in populism and protectionist policies, which subsequently increased in 2016, another indicator, named the world outward FDI stocks shows an increasing trend up until 2017, with a dip in 2018 as policies took effect with an adjusted lag.

However compared to trade volume, movements of people and capital are significantly higher, as they can move freely around the globe without restrictions that constrained them in the past.

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Such data can be interpreted in a number of ways. While it is true that anti-globalist sentiment and tariff policies have negatively affected international trade since the global financial crisis in 2008. Other indicators such as movements of capital and human resources are less hindered, as they now have cheaper and more efficient forms of transportation to go to other countries and because borders have become more open for both people and capital.

The data is also telling us that while it is easy to block the movement of tradable goods through tariffs and other protectionist policies, movement of people and capital stocks are not as much restrained.

Is globalism really in danger?

For now trade may be negatively affected. Contrarily ever more people and capital are moving around the world thanks to globalism.

Not sure what globalism is? find out here.


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