Sep 21, 201208:39 AMCity Beat
Capital Opinion by Michael A. Sand, Jacqueline G. Goodwin and others.
Welcome to the G-Zero Era
In Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World, Ian Bremmer, president of the political-risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group, maps the present and future of G-Zero—a “world order in which no single country or durable alliance of countries can meet the challenges of global leadership.”
A self-proclaimed non-partisan presence in the world of commentary, Bremmer, who was in Harrisburg Sept. 20 to address Pennsylvania’s business community (at the behest of Derek C. Hathaway, retired Chairman and CEO of Harsco Corporation) about a G-Zero world.
Bremmer writes, “For the first time in seven decades, we live in a world without global leadership.”
So welcome to the G-Zero era, a world of every nation for itself, one in which Bremmer believes the United States will remain the sole superpower for the foreseeable future, but war-weary, under-employed, debt-plagued voters will reject an activist foreign policy.
For the first time in seven decades, there is no single power or alliance of powers ready to take on the challenges of global leadership Bremmer argues.
“A generation ago, the United States, Europe, and Japan were the world’s powerhouses, the free-market democracies that propelled the global economy forward. Today, they struggle just to find their footing.”
Bremmer believes that Europeans won't fill the global leadership vacuum because they're busy fighting over how best to save the Eurozone.
He also thinks China and other emerging powers won't be much help.
“They face too many complex challenges at home to accept new risks and burdens abroad. This leadership void won't last forever, but the problem won't be solved this year or next,” he states.
Yet, Bremmer writes that some countries are better positioned than others to prosper in this decentralized global order.
“Options, the ability to ‘pivot’ among multiple political and commercial partners, can ensure that a country is blessed with resilience as well as growth. In an increasingly crisis-prone world, resilience will be a crucial advantage,” he adds.
“We're living in a crisis-prone moment. In just the past four years, the United States has endured a financial crisis and the deepest recession in 75 years. Europe still faces a fundamental threat to the single currency and to the broader European idea. Upheaval continues in North Africa and the Middle East. In a world in transition and turmoil, it helps to have as many partners as possible. That's the power of the pivot,” he writes.
Bremmer is betting on countries and corporations that maintain the widest range of potential allies, including “pivot states”—Turkey, Mongolia, Brazil, and so on—that have maintained relations with a range of big powers.
Losers, we’re told, will be those who depend too heavily on American protection—so long, Japan and Taiwan!—and “shadow states,” such as Mexico and Ukraine, “which cling, suckerfish-like, to the fortunes of larger neighbors.”
“Winners accept the world as it is,” he writes, and predicts that “banks, hedge funds, and private equity funds will shift their operations toward emerging-market states to avoid global and Western regulatory reforms.”
If China’s new dominance in Africa arouses protests, there is “no reason why Western-based companies can’t exploit these vulnerabilities and compete more effectively with Chinese companies.”
In a G-Zero world, he concludes, “it is economic muscle, not military might, that determines the international balance of power.”
But as he describes a “world without leaders,” Bremmer’s last chapter pays homage to America’s advantages—mainly, military might and democratic, entrepreneurial values—but his more persuasive point is simply that power is relative: “if the world descends into a barroom brawl, the United States will still be the largest, strongest drunk in the joint.”
An interesting read, Every Nation for Itself offers essential insights for anyone attempting to navigate the new global playing field.