IE Ideas || 2012, a year of decisions

The world economy will not recover this year. All qualified observers forecast lower growth, unusually high unemployment levels and continued financial tension. The fearsome “double-dip” recession is a reality. But there is no reason for chronic pessimism.

A new reality characterised by the movement of economic activity -production, consumerism, investment and employment- from the North Atlantic to other areas of the world, especially but not exclusively Asia. But also because we have abandoned the world of cheap money and credit abundance and will be away from it for some time. A structural change that gives rise to an understandable feeling of malaise in developed countries, whose populations refuse to accept that the future will not necessarily always be rosier, that they will have to give up some of what they considered as inalienable rights and reform their welfare states to make them sustainable. Simply because we are witnessing the end of the exceptional condition of the West. Emerging countries now produce more than 50% of the world GDP, but they consume only 30%… a proportion that can only rise and which will undoubtedly improve the standard of living of humanity. However, it is a process that needs to be handled intelligently.

We are facing a historic opportunity that is not exempt from risk. Imperial transitions and changes in the relative power of the different states have always been solved by war. This time, it can and must be different. The price system, macroeconomic coordination, financial globalisation and international institutions are poised to ensure a peaceful transition, which does not mean that there will be no cost or tension. The world managed to avoid protectionism after the dramatic events that followed the burst of the financial bubble in the United States. The commercial world maintained its strength, and general policies for making your neighbour poorer were avoided. Regardless of how virulent its death throes may seem in Europe owing to the fact that it coincides with the questions being asked of the monetary union, it would be a paradox now that we are at the end of the crisis if we were to forget the lessons taught by history.