Robots and carbon targets may signal the end of globalisation

19/05/2017

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A new book suggests there is early evidence of a coming U-turn in the globalisation of manufacturing – and that the story we are told about the direction of the global economy is wrong.

 

Holding on to familiar stories about the global economy is not an option, as technological and political changes make a mockery of any past consensus.
- Finbarr Livesey

For decades we have been told that globalisation is an irresistible force. As Tony Blair said: “you might as well debate whether autumn follows summer.” 

According to a new book by a Cambridge academic, however, factors ranging from automation and 3D printing to environmental regulations and customer expectations are now spelling the beginning of the end for globalised manufacturing.

Dr Finbarr Livesey, an expert in public policy, says that while digital globalisation continues apace, early signs can be seen of a sea change in the production and distribution of goods: with global supply chains shrinking as companies experiment with moving production closer to home.

In the book From Global to Local: the Making of Things and the End of Globalisation, published this week by Profile Books, he argues that many of the big assumptions we have about globalisation and outsourcing are now wrong, and that the global economy is subtly changing in ways yet to be picked up by blunt macroeconomic measurements. 

“Robots are becoming cheaper than overseas labour, climate concern and volatile fossil fuel markets are restricting carbon footprints, and consumers increasingly expect tailored products with express delivery. Bouncing production around the planet is already making less and less economic sense,” says Livesey.

“Holding on to familiar stories about the global economy is not an option, as technological and political changes make a mockery of any past consensus.”

Read the full story

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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