S+B: Do you have the sense that decision makers are ready to talk about this?
Perez: Not yet. It may be that the experiences of the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Pakistan earthquake create some degree of awareness. But even that may not suffice to start the necessary kinds of conversations — the equivalents to what took place to set up the welfare state and the Bretton Woods agreements.
A lot of people in the developing world are very much against globalization. They’re looking only at the trade globalization that destroyed their industries. Or they see the mess that financial globalization made of many economies (many saw their life savings completely wiped out by collapses such as Argentina’s). But there’s a third kind of globalization — the globalization of production that is increasingly happening now. And that’s the kind that, sooner or later, will probably bring prosperity to large numbers of people across the planet.
S+B: Then why not simply wait for it to emerge?
Perez: Because left to itself, it might not happen. Historical regularities are not a blueprint; they only indicate likelihood. We are at the crossroads right now. It is our responsibility to make sure that the enormous growth potential of the next golden age will not be lost.
Reprint No. 05410
Art Kleiner ([email protected]) is editor-in-chief of strategy+business.