Parable of Globalization – The New York Times

The global supply chain is almost invisible to consumers. Through this long line of manufacturers, customs agents, containers and carriers, all kinds of goods are moved from one point of the planet to another without our noticing. Until he fails.

So when factories close in China or a ship gets stuck in the Middle East or fuel prices go up, start to wear out toilet paper, wheat, masks, glass, microchips. Globalization is stumbling and, with it, our daily lives.

A recent report by Peter S. Goodman illustrates how logistical difficulties are linked and multiply in times of pandemic. The note tells in detail the journey of a single container filled with plastic objects bearing the effigy of the characters of sesame street from a factory in Ningbo, China, to a warehouse in Mississippi, USA owned by a modest company, Glo. Unlike larger companies, which may purchase additional inventory, charter special vessels or modify production, smaller companies are more likely to suffer from logistical disruptions. Peter writes:

This container would carry more than the usual Glo bath toys. It also carried the aspirations of the company, a start-up that embodied the American entrepreneurial spirit.

Just as shipping containers are a symbol of a globalized and interdependent economy, microchips – which power cell phones, cars and many household appliances, among others – represent the growing dependence of the American economy on foreign markets. The recent shortage of these tiny components is driving today’s price inflation and a technology gap. In this article we visit a microcomponent factory. It is fascinating to know, from the inside, how it works, as well as the amount of water and cleaning required to produce one of the protagonists of the modern global economy.

However, global transport and supply disruptions are not the only symptom that globalization is in trouble. There are also political and ideological divisions which accentuate it.

Columnist David Brooks recalled in a recent Opinion essay that in the 1990s it was optimistically thought that the world was moving towards the integration of “worldviews, products, ideas and cultures”. Analysts also predicted that the normalization demanded by trade would result in convergence around democracy and human rights. But, says Brooks, citing the war in Ukraine, that has not been the case. “The process of globalization has slowed down, and in some cases it has started to move in the opposite direction”, he underlines and adds that “trade, travel and even communication between the different political blocs have become much tighter.”

But while port delays and microchip shortages are not irreversible, globalization is clearly not a linear process either. Do you feel it advancing or retreating in the corner of the corner of the world in which you live? Does it affect you in your personal life? Participate in the comments.


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Before leaving, enjoy this postcard:

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas has one of the largest collections of modern art in the region: hundreds of works by Picasso, Miró, Chagall and Dalí. Around the square, an urban project includes restaurants, swimming pools, schools and luxury apartments.

In recent years, the museum and its surroundings have suffered a decline which is both the product of the economic crisis and, as write Anatoly Kurmanaev and Isayen Herrera in this reportof the “lasting effects of political polarization on national culture”.

Last year, the note says, senior officials responsible for guarding a collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars earned about $12 a month, and the museum had a daily budget of $1.50 to maintain its facilities, to which it faces the ravages of the passage of time. , the climate and also the risk of theft.

Today, the MACC is experiencing a modest recovery due in part to the fact that the government of Nicolás Maduro has authorized the participation of private parties in cultural activities.


PS: Speaking of globalization coming and going, last week our readers joined the conversation about landline nostalgia. Don’t miss the comments and join the dialogue.

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