“Globalization in Retreat”

Below is an excerpt from Roger C. Altman’s[1] article in Foreign Affairs, entitled “Globalization in Retreat: Further Geopolitical Consequences of the Financial Crisis.” This article represents a macro/secular/western/American point of view; I believe there is much for us to consider as followers of Christ who serve as advocates of cross-cultural partnerships. The article begins with the following four paragraphs. It is well worth reading the whole article, which is available here.

It is now clear that the global economic crisis will be deep and prolonged and that it will have far-reaching geopolitical consequences. The long movement toward market liberalization has stopped, and a new period of state intervention, reregulation, and creeping protectionism has begun.

Indeed, globalization itself is reversing. The long-standing wisdom that everyone wins in a single world market has been undermined. Global trade, capital flows, and immigration are declining. It also has not gone unnoticed that nations with insulated financial systems, such as China and India, have suffered the least economic damage.

Furthermore, there will be less global leadership and less coordination between nations. The G-7 (the group of highly industrialized states) and the G-20 (the group of finance ministers and centralbank governors from the world’s largest economies) have been unable to respond effectively to this crisis, other than by expanding the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United States is also less capable of making these institutions work and, over the medium term, will be less dominant.

This coincides with the movement away from a unipolar world, which the downturn has accelerated. The United States will now be focused inward and constrained by unemployment and fiscal pressures. Much of the world also blames U.S. financial excesses for the global recession. This has put the U.S. model of free-market capitalism out of favor. The deserved global goodwill toward President Barack Obama mitigates some of this, but not all of it.

What might the macro-perspectives in Altman’s article mean for Christians who are advocates of cross-cultural ministry partnerships?

  1. With their relatively insulated economies, India and China “have suffered the least economic damage.” Might this mean that India and China will become less dependent on resources from the West? Will Christian leaders from India and China assert greater leadership in the world Christian movement?
  2. “…creeping protectionism has begun.” Could this mean that more people in the American evangelical missions community will invest more in local missions? Will a form of “protectionism” in the local church cause a wane in the short-term missions movement—or a reduction in funds available for global concerns?
  3. What are the implications stemming from the likelihood that the “global economic crisis will be deep and prolonged?” That funding for the Great Commission originating from North America will decline? That Christian leaders will take a harder look at the ways that their missions resources are being invested? Will this result in more funding for indigenous ministries, which inherently cost less, and less funding for westerners who want to go as missionaries?
  4. “Much of the world also blames U.S. financial excesses for the global recession. This has put the U.S. model of free-market capitalism out of favor.” Will this hinder the influence of U.S.-based global mission efforts? Or will the “global goodwill” toward President Obama make it easier?
  5. Given the vast numbers of immigrants from non-Western nations and unreached peoples in North American cities, will local churches focus more resources on reaching these people in their own communities?

What do you think? Please comment below.

1. Roger C. Altman is Chair and CEO of Evercore Partners. He was U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary in 1993–94.


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