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Commanding Heights Essay

I have questions for you to think about after you watch the video. These are some of the macro implications of the global movement. I do not need you to answer these questions. Just have an understanding of some of the underlying issues. Will these questions be on the test? The answer is NO.

But you have learnt some of these concepts and issues thus far in your exposure to global business environments (Chpts 1-6) and the video serves the purpose of giving you a real life view of how globalization played out since 19991 to 2003. On Page 2 you will see listed some of the key themes that are in the video that you need to know. On Page 3 onwards you will see the transcript of the video for those of you who may want to read the transcript. (You do not have to read the transcript or know it, it is optional. Some folks like to have it so they can follow along with the video.)

These questions are just for you to ponder over and understand. What happens when governments control or dominate a national economy? Why have most countries in the world turned back toward free-market capitalism after 80 years of experimentation with socialism and communism? Why did so many socialist economies fail?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of the capitalist economic system? What happens when command economies transform into market economies? How is the transition best undertaken? Is there a relationship between open markets and political freedom? What happens when national governments restrict their domestic economies from open participation in (and dependence on) foreign trade? What are the benefits and dangers of open flows of capital and trade in goods across all national borders? What have we learned about the effects of imposing price and wage controls, of deficit spending, trade tariffs, and subsidies? What have we learned about the effects of government regulation of markets and privately owned industries? What could be the benefits and liabilities in nationalizing private enterprises and turning them into state-owned industries.

What could be the benefits and risks in re-privatizing state-owned industries. In designing new rules for the evolving global economy, how should we address the risks of economic contagion, currency and debt crises, and other dangers to peace and stability? Is it really possible to do so ? As global capital markets have opened up and investors can invest or withdraw support from entire national economies at will, what has been the impact of “market discipline” on national economic and political autonomy? Is the open market, capitalist economic philosophy now the only viable model for fostering economic development and prosperity? What have the experiences of Asia, Latin America, and Africa to tell us about the advantages and limitations of our own economic viewpoint?

Key Themes Articulated in the Series

The current global economy is the outgrowth of a century of trial-and-error experimentation with different political and economic ideologies. The core battle of ideas is an argument about the best way to promote the economic welfare of society as a whole. For most of the last century the argument has centered on the role that central governments should or should not play in economic activity. For much of the last century the argument appeared to swing in favor of central planning and government control. More recently, the pendulum has swung the other way, toward greater reliance on market forces to determine the allocation of resources. The transition away from central control has increased productivity and expanded wealth, but has also been societally wrenching for the peoples of many nations. In recent decades, technology has also fundamentally changed the way economies behave and interrelate.

We are just beginning to understand how to reap the benefits and manage the risks these changes have introduced. While the growth of globally integrated markets has expanded wealth and raised living standards in many parts of the world, there have also been destructive effects. The Asian economic contagion of 1997-8 is one example. Because the benefits of globalization have not been distributed equitably, the gulf between rich and poor continues to threaten the stability of the system as a whole. Equipping dispossessed populations to benefit from open global markets and entrepreneurial capitalism constitutes one of the major challenges of the 21st century.


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