Postpandemic and Globalization: The New World Order

The first pandemic in times of globalization affected 180 countries in less than three months, saturated the health system around the world, put the global economy in check, generated border closures in the five continents, increased unemployment and poverty, affected 70% of world air traffic, fractured the global production, supply and distribution chain, nationalist fervor resurfaced and disinformation became an infodemic.

But although a crisis of globalization seems to be consolidating, the evidence put in context indicates that it is a transformation that could, on the contrary, end up strengthening the phenomenon.

Did Globalization enter into crisis due to the Covid19 Pandemic?

By: Gabriel E. Levy B.

Globalization is a social, economic, political and cultural phenomenon that originated at the end of the last century and that accounts for the dissolution of multiple barriers between different modern societies, which through trade, the opening of borders, political and commercial treaties, transoceanic travel, the massification of tourism, cinema, literature and, above all, the consolidation of the Internet, have allowed humanity to be connected and to have access to other territories and cultures regardless of distance, in what the Canadian author Marshall McLuhan once defined as a “great global village”[1].

The Impact of the First Pandemic of the 21st Century

The most recent analyses published by the World Bank Forum[2], warn that the pandemic has pushed 88 million people into extreme poverty, a figure that could reach 115 million in the coming months, the vast majority of whom will be located in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America.

According to the latest edition of the report “Poverty and Shared Prosperity[3]” most of these new poor are people who before the pandemic worked in informal services, such as construction, manufacturing and other fields that were affected by mobility restrictions.

Deterioration and erosion of the economy

Restrictions on mobility, put in place to control the spread of the virus and thus alleviate pressure on vulnerable and overburdened health systems, have had a huge impact on global economic growth and sustainability.

The World Bank’s report on the global economic outlook states that:

“The Pandemic unleashed an unprecedented global crisis and a global health crisis, which in addition to generating an enormous human cost, is leading to the deepest global recession since World War II. This year, the global economy and per capita incomes are expected to contract and push millions of people into extreme poverty[4].”

The same report argues that the forced and prolonged confinement to which millions of people were exposed, especially in 2020, slowed mass production, slowed economies, disrupted the complex global air transport network, paralyzed tourism, affected shipping and consequently supply chains, in an effect that at first glance, could be defined as accelerated “de-globalization”, a perspective that while notorious, we must not lose sight of the full context of the situation.

More connected than ever

The study “Business Futures”[5], published by the Irish-based multinational consulting firm Accenture Limited, reveals that the global economy is much more interconnected than at any other time in human history and that, contrary to what we perceive, macro indicators show that it is far from regressing as a social, economic and cultural phenomenon.

The document suggests that the world is undergoing an accelerated transformation, in which globalization has a new aspect, totally different from the previous one.

Thanks to the pandemic, the number of virtual meetings has catapulted, allowing not only the same people to be present at them as would be present in person, but also many others who are in different latitudes, achieving greater regional integration in business, education, health, economic and even political processes.

The consumption of connected multicultural content increased significantly, not only on existing digital platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video or Youtube, but many new ones such as Disney+ and Paramount+ were born.

In the particular case of Netflix, the number of international movies and series grew exponentially during the pandemic and series such as “La Casa de Papel” dethroned content of North American origin in number of global viewers[6].

Book sales on Amazon and other digital bookstores increased significantly during the pandemic[7] and Spotify users grew by 31%, as did the consumption of music genres and tracks from around the world during this time[8].

Many companies reinvented themselves with the pandemic, some of them have compensated the losses with the sale of office buildings, saving a lot of money, while the staff now works from home, improving the quality of life of their employees and families with a very significant contribution to the environment[9].

“There were two obstacles to the implementation of teleworking in many companies: a technological part (computers, connectivity …) that was not considered, but having had to prepare it by force majeure, it is already in place. The other is the fear of some managers of losing control. This has been broken, and the results are generally good. The consequence will be that it will not even be necessary to have all the employees living in the same city as the company, as long as they can travel there from time to time it will be enough”, concludes Fernando Encinar for Xataca[10].

Many multinational and local companies have broadened the spectrum of their human talent recruitment, obtaining more economical specialized personnel from other latitudes, creating multicultural interdisciplinary work groups.

Although the tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, the projections of global travel agencies and even the airlines themselves, is that the number of tourists will grow exponentially when the world recovers normality, because the confinement and confinement generated that people value much more the privilege of traveling the world and know other cultures, generating a damming effect that will trigger an unprecedented outflow of tourists around the world[11].

Todo lo anterior se podría definir como una profundización de la globalización, con todas las implicaciones que esto pueda representar.[12].

The Digital Divide the biggest threat

As we have discussed in many previous articles, the concept of digital divide refers to any type of unequal distribution in the access, use, or appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) among social groups, which is not only a matter of technologies, but also of social aspects that have an impact on multiple dimensions of human life and that, in the particular case of the economy, become a burden for the growth of a region.

Considering that the phenomenon of globalization is undergoing a digital transformation, where a significant dependence on connectivity is evident, many people, especially in developing countries, will experience greater difficulties in accessing productive chains, triggering a new spiral of poverty that will further accentuate the already alarming figures presented by the World Bank[13].

In conclusion, although at first glance everything would seem to indicate that the pandemic suddenly halted the phenomenon of globalization by reducing production chains and the mobility of people around the world, a rigorous analysis in context shows that what we are actually experiencing is an accelerated migration from globalization to the digital world, where, on the contrary, there is greater integration of the human species, in labor, cultural, economic and social terms, which unleashes a host of new opportunities and subsequent threats.

In this new WORLD ORDER: Hyperconnected globalization, many people who do not have the means to access the benefits of the Internet (Digital Divide[14]), will experience an exponential increase in the already alarming indicators of poverty, especially in developing countries, which in turn will trigger a spiral that, in the absence of digital skills and access limitations, will prevent these same people from being able to break out of this vicious cycle.

Finally, cultural hegemonization could end up increasing in this new context of hyper-connected globalization, putting at even greater risk the diversity of pluricultural manifestations already threatened.

[1] Article in the Spanish newspaper El País about Marshall McLuhan.

[2] World Bank Forum Reports on the Pandemic

[3] Reports of the World Bank Forum on Pandemic and Shared Poverty 2021

[4] World Bank Report on Global Economic Prospects

[5] Business Futures Report published by Accenture consulting firm.

[6] Analysis of the specialized magazine Retina on the impact of the pandemic on globalization.

[7] Press article from the business newspaper La República on the growth in book sales.

[8] Article from the newspaper El Tiempo on the growth in the consumption of content on Spotify.

[9] Article of the Blog Xataca on the post-pandemic Teleworking

[10] Specialized article of the Blog Xataca on Postpandemic Teleworking

[11] Article of the Spanish newspaper La Razón about the Postpandemic Disbandment effect.

[12] Article of the Blog Xataca on the Telework postpandemia

[13] Report of the World Bank on global economic perspectives

[14] Andinalink article: Digital Divide the burden of Latin America