Friday, November 17, 2006

Globalization: The Long-Run Big Picture


Globalization, in conjunction with its essential prerequisite of respect for private property rights, and thus the existence of substantial economic freedom in the various individual countries, has the potential to raise the productivity of labor and living standards all across the world to the level of the most advanced countries. In addition, it has the potential to bring about the radical improvement in productivity and living standards in what are today the most advanced countries, and to provide the strongest possible foundation for unprecedented further economic advance everywhere.

These overwhelmingly beneficial results are often hidden from view by the fact that at the same time globalization implies a substantial decline in the relative or even absolute nominal GDPs of today's advanced countries, the experience of which engenders opposition to the process. What is not seen is that to whatever extent globalization might reduce absolute nominal GDP in today's advanced countries, it reduces prices many times more, with the result that it correspondingly increases their real GDP, and that to whatever extent it reduces merely their relative nominal GDP, it again increases their real GDP many times more.

This article shows that by incorporating billions of additional people into the global division of labor, and correspondingly increasing the scale on which all branches of production and economic activity are carried on, globalization makes possible the unprecedented achievement of economies of scale—the maximum consistent with the size of the world's population. First and foremost among these will be the very substantial increase in the number of highly intelligent, highly motivated individuals working in all of the branches of science, technology, and business. This will greatly accelerate the rate of scientific and technological progress and business innovation. The achievement of all other economies of scale will also serve to increase what it is possible to produce with any given quantity of capital goods and labor.

Out of this larger gross product comes a correspondingly larger supply of capital goods, which makes possible a further increase in production, resulting in a still larger supply of capital goods, in a process that can be repeated indefinitely so long as scientific and technological progress and business innovation continue and an adequate degree of saving and provision for the future is maintained. The article shows that from the very beginning, the process of globalization serves to promote capital accumulation simply by dramatically increasing production in the countries in which foreign capital is invested, out of which increase in production comes an additional supply of capital goods.

Some critics of globalization, notably Paul Craig Roberts, do not understand how it promotes capital accumulation and instead believe that it deprives the advanced countries of capital. Others, notably Gomory and Baumol, view the effect of globalization on nominal GDP as though it were its effect on real GDP and are thus led to confuse competition for limited money revenue and income with economic conflict. This article answers both sets of errors, including related confusions concerning outsourcing.

To continue reading, please go to and follow the link to the article.