Rana Foroohar writes in TIME:
Tis the season to be selfish. Right after the global financial crisis exploded in 2008, many economists fretted that countries looking to hold on to their share of a shrinking pie would become more self-interested and protectionist, plunging the planet into an even sharper downturn, just as happened in the 1930s after the Great Depression. Thanks to panic-fueled crisis management by policymakers, it didn’t happen. But after three years of pain and very little economic gain, it may be happening now.
The signs are everywhere. Europeans are in the middle of a potentially calamitous debt crisis, one that threatens not only the survival of the euro zone but the idea of the European Union itself: politicians are starting to talk about rolling back visa-free travel between countries. Meanwhile, OPEC is falling apart as the Saudis and the Iranians bicker over how to control the world’s energy spigots. (Result: higher oil prices for all of us.) Then there’s the rise of populist politics not only in the U.S. but throughout the rest of the world. Anti-E.U. political parties are gaining support around Europe, and despite the recent overthrow of several Middle Eastern strongmen, nationalism is on the rise in places like China, Brazil and Russia.
All of which underscores the point that globalization, if we define it as the free movement of goods, people and money, was never all it was cracked up to be. The world is just not as flat as pundits would have us think. More than half of global trade, investment and migration still takes place within regions — much of it between neighboring countries…
Article continues at TIME.