Our sense is that the world is currently in a benign transition from full globalization to multipolar state, though this is not complete. ... We find evidence of region-specific trends in economic, social and technological factors that are distinct from aggregate world trends. ... In this context, we are increasingly mindful of George Orwell’s 1984, where he divided the world into three regions – Oceania, East Asia and Eurasia on the basis of economic power and form of government. Although it requires some conceptual shoehorning we could well fit the major countries of the world into the following categories: Oceania (USA, Canada and Latin America), Eurasia (Europe, the Middle East and Russia), East Asia (Africa, Asia and the Pacific economies). Some countries like the UK, Japan and Australia could just as easily fit in two categories. In today’s world, Orwell’s classification is not a ‘clean’ one but the three broad regions he has set out give a sense as to how a multipolar world might evolve at a high level.What is some of the evidence for the movement to a multipolar world economy? One chunk of evidence is a de-emphasis of the role of international organizations like the World Trade Organization in favor of regional and preferential trade agreements, along with bilateral investment treaties. Here are some trends in each of these areas.
"Our analysis of corporate investment and revenue growth shows that globalization remains intact in terms of consumption and marketing patterns, there appears to have been a retrenchment in cross-border investment by corporates. ... We read these results as pointing towards a more multipolar world where companies continue to sell across borders but are more cautious in investing across them.
"In terms of governance, the impetus provided to the spread of democracy by globalization looks to have reached a limit, with less democratic forms of government being perceived to produce economic success and new regional institutions replacing the activities of world ones. ... Geopolitically, conflict now takes place more within countries and regions, than between countries.
"The world is increasingly undercut by faultlines in terms of religion, climate change, language, military development and indebtedness to name a few."If a multipolar world is coming, it behooves the United States to consider what our core alliance would look like. I've posted here before on "The North American Vision" (November 5, 2014) of stronger US ties with Canada and Mexico, but I suspect that broad vision is should be expanded to include Latin America as well.
Finally, here's an angle on the very long-run evolution of the global economy: a breakdown of what share of the global economy was represented by different countries or regions over the last millenium. Maybe the easiest way to read this figure is to start from the bottom dark green area, representing China, and then work your way up through the other countries in the order they appear in the key.