March 28, 2005

Trends in International Markets & Trade

The most recent issue of The National Interest contains an article by Peter Drucker entitled "Trading Places" which discusses international economic trends:

The new world economy is fundamentally different from that of the fifty years following World War II. The United States may well remain the political and military leader for decades to come. It is likely also to remain the world's richest and most productive national economy for a long time (though the European Union as a whole is both larger and more productive). But the U.S. economy is no longer the single dominant economy.

The emerging world economy is a pluralist one, with a substantial number of economic "blocs." Eventually there may be six or seven blocs, of which the U.S.-dominated NAFTA is likely to be only one, coexisting and competing with the European Union (EU), MERCOSUR in Latin America, ASEAN in the Far East, and nation-states that are blocs by themselves, China and India. These blocs are neither "free trade" nor "protectionist", but both at the same time.

Even more novel is that what is emerging is not one but four world economies: a world economy of information; of money; of multinationals (one no longer dominated by American enterprises); and a mercantilist world economy of goods, services and trade. These world economies overlap and interact with one another. But each is distinct with different members, a different scope, different values and different institutions...

Drucker concludes the article with concerns about the future competitive strength of the American economy:

For thirty years after World War II, the U.S. economy dominated practically without serious competition. For another twenty years it was clearly the world's foremost economy and especially the undisputed leader in technology and innovation. Though the United States today still dominates the world economy of information, it is only one major player in the three other world economies of money, multinationals and trade. And it is facing rivals that, either singly or in combination, could conceivably make America Number Two.

Greater economic risks lead to increased political risks. America would do well to develop strategically appropriate economic policies that anticipate these international trends.