July 29, 2021

“Why the ‘fatigue of globalization’ has gripped the peoples”

Losses and profits. No sooner has the mask of the Covid-19 pandemic fallen than the world reconnects with its old demons. They haunt the campaign for the regional elections of June 20 and 27, and will surely invade the next, national. In particular the fear of globalization, which is added to that of ecological transition. Because, not only did the health crisis not stop the changes in the world, but it accelerated them.

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Evidenced by the spectacular announcement, Tuesday, June 15, of the audit and consulting firm PwC, which will hire 100,000 additional people around the world over the next five years, to help companies face environmental, social transitions. and governance that are emerging.

To take the measure of the transformations underway and their causes, we must read the little bright book by economist Lionel Fontagné, The Payroll and the Caddy (Ed. Sciences Po, 112 pages, 9 euros). A great specialist in international trade, he tracks down the sources of the “fatigue of globalization”, which has gripped the people, in France, America, Great Britain and elsewhere. There he attempts a balance between the benefits of a gain in purchasing power (the “Caddy”), and the consequences of globalization on the decrease in their income (the “payroll”).

Pockets of precariousness

Answer: The decline in industrial employment long predates China’s entry into world markets. Technical progress has done its work before and affected, not so much particular sectors as tasks, those which can be codified and automated. The decline of the working class began at the threshold of the 1980s. Offshoring only accentuated the phenomenon and the shift in jobs.

Let’s be relativistic: between 2001 and 2007, globalization caused the loss of 88,000 manufacturing jobs in France, while in 2019 alone, the country created 230,000 jobs. But they are not the same. Those which disappear are concentrated and those which appear are more diffuse, mainly in the services. The favorable balance sheet is tarnished by pockets of precariousness which are obvious.

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Politics have not been able to take care of the losers who, unemployed in France or with odd jobs in the United States, can no longer afford to fill their cart, even cheap. The answer lies in social and environmental regulations and in training the excluded, not in Trump-style protectionism, which would have cost, according to Mr. Fontagné, 7 billion dollars (5.8 billion euros) per month to American households and businesses. You don’t solve problems by closing the door.