During an overdue clear out during lockdown, I came across an old wedding list from 28 years ago issued by a department store. The secateurs were priced at £29.95 last week I saw secateurs at a DIY store for £6.25.
The story of the world economy in the last three years, particularly manufacturing can be encapsulated by the fact that an item now could be priced at just over one fifth from 28 years ago. This is before even taking into account inflation.
The contrast between the 1992 secateurs; Wilkinson Sword and made in the UK, which have stood the test of time and still work today; and the cheap imported secateurs tells its own story. The movement of manufacturing out of the West to cheaper locations has resulted in a windfall for those whose jobs have not been adversely affected. A large amount of the rise in living standards in the last three decades is down to the fact that goods are offered cheaper. There are, of course, losers in this process such as those who have seen their jobs disappear both in manufacturing and in labour intensive repair work. What is the point of repairing something expensively if it can be replaced cheaply?
The process of globalisation has enriched most of the world economy and the economists have been right that most of the manufacturing jobs in the West have been replaced by service jobs. This means that until Covid-19 employment rates were at record high.
For a number of reasons globalisation is in retreat, economic, social and political. Covid-19 did not create this retreat but may have accelerated it.
This talk takes an in depth look at globalisation; why it is in retreat and who will be the winners and losers of that change in policy.