Delving Deeper into the Unknown: Rethinking Globalization and Regional Integration in the context of the global financial crisis

George Mavrotas*

The 2008 global financial crisis has prompted us to take a fresh look at a wider spectrum of issues related to the globalization process. We no longer find ourselves embracing globalization with the easiness and the enthusiasm of the pre-crisis era. The current second phase of globalization is different from the first phase of globalization at the end of the 19th century in many respects. Still though, it is rather fair to argue that the lessons learnt from the first globalization phase can help us to understand many of the current problems.

However, the context is now dramatically different due to the unique nature of the current global financial crisis and because of the emerging ‘southern engines of growth’ and the BRICs which with a combined 43 per cent of the world population and 21 per cent of the world GDP cannot and should not be ignored.

An important feature of the recent crisis is that it came from the ‘North’ contrary to what many observers would expect 2-3 years back, thus demonstrating quite vividly the iron law of the globalization process, namely ‘expect the unexpected to happen’. At the same time, the crisis seriously challenged the Anglo-Saxon economic model and gave rise to a new debate on alternative models of capitalism ranging from the “Beijing consensus’ to the broad variety of the ‘European model’. Furthermore, the EU integration model which remained almost unchallenged for many years is currently under severe scrutiny in the aftermath of the crisis as it also raised central issues regarding the entire regional integration process.

What are the lessons emerging in the EU case for integration of the developing world? Will political pressures to push back globalization now come from the ‘North’? Is a new era of globalization going to emerge and if so, what will its features be? These are challenging questions which require an independent, frank and forward looking debate to provide us with helpful and healthy reflections if not clear answers.

Against this challenging background the 11th Annual Conference of the Global Development Network (GDN), to be held in the historic city of Prague on 16-18 January 2010, provides us with an ideal platform to re-examine the overall global and regional integration processes, take a fresh look at a variety of issues related to the recent global financial crisis, bring developing country perspectives into the debate and suggest constructive ways on how we should move from there.

The GDN is well positioned to lead the debate on these important issues in view of its independence and also the fact that it brings developing country perspectives into the debate. An audience of about 450 participants across many disciplines from all over the world putting questions to some of the world’s leading thinkers and policy makers in Prague on globalization and regionalization processes is guaranteed to produce a timely as well as important discussion on the key issues involved and also guide our thinking on these topics. After all, as global citizens we need this sort of independent dialogue and reflection on possibly one of the most debatable issues of our times.

* George Mavrotas is GDN’s Chief Economist and the GDN Conference Director in Prague.

See more stories from the GDN 2010 Conference, watch participants’ videos interviews, download conference presentations and papers

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About Pier Andrea Pirani
Information, knowledge sharing and communications in international development - Social media and collaboration tools.

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