“The tide of globalization is turning,” says Martin Wolf, the respected economics editor of London-based Financial Times. He cites proof. For example, trade trends have been flat relative to overall economic output in the world this past 8 years (following the Global Financial Crisis). Also, the stock of cross-border financial investment assets have peaked relative to global economic output, falling substantially. Many other statistics could be quoted.
Wolf’s statement is arresting. It is crucial to understand the significance of “globalization turning.” Globalization is and was the FOUNDATION of soaring global wealth this past half-century. It was the culmination of the great visions of many philosophers and visionaries who foresaw increasing cross-border commerce as the road to a common “one-world.” The common interest and global intertwining of prosperity would draw all nations together in world peace.
It is crucial to understand that globalization was the Holy Grail of all the significant global policy organizations from the International Monetary Fund, to the World Trade Organization, the World Economic Forum and many others. “Peace and safety” and “prosperity and the end of poverty” were the catch-slogans of our times.
And, for well over half of a century, cross border trade increased at many times the rate of overall world economic growth.
Globalization, of course, began much earlier … hundreds of years earlier. However, it has been the time span since 1970 or so over which globalization accelerated at double speed.
How has it all worked out? Indeed the world has become much more economically intertwined than ever before. Financial flows are interlinked as never before in world history. Some claim that extreme poverty in the world has diminished. Yet, it must also be noted that wealth distribution has become more uneven than perhaps ever before in world history. All the while, population migration between countries has not been any more significant than in other eras.
One goal has not been achieved: World peace. There remain many rumors of war, inter-tribal skirmishes and wars. And now, the “tide of globalization is turning.”
Observers lament recent declines in global trade volume growth, a broad shift to trade protectionism and a general unwinding of established financial capital flows. Through the current financial morass can be seen the glints of “natural” deflationary pressures that lie underneath. As mentioned, global trade volumes are still flat to down.
We can also point to shrinking bank balance sheets, declining currency reserves, declining foreign reserves deposited with the Fed, etc. Critically, global currency trading volumes for the first time on record have declined according to a recent report issued by the Bank of International Settlements. This last development is a hugely symbolic development as currency trading volume was the poster child of globalization, with trading volumes up by 10,000 per cent and more since 1970.
Prophetic Implications to Consider
Consider the developments of globalism and globalization. Fulfillment of Bible prophecy requires that these global developments must occur. Were this not so, it would not be possible for future prophecy to be fulfilled.
For example, were there no globalism, how would it be possible that Israel “[…] shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9); that world rulers “will band together against the Lord” (Psalms 2:2-3); or that God’s last-day judgments could be shown to be a “global” punishment?
The rapid trend of globalization can be considered to be “prophetically significant” as it is a process that eventually enables the specific fulfillment of prophecy.
Then, what to make of the apparent “turning of globalization.” Will the fulfillment of some prophecies therefore be delayed?
We can point to events and processes of perhaps hundreds of years ago that have served to set the foundations of today’s globalism and globalization. Over such longer periods of time, trends can experience “ebbs and flows” — two steps forward, one back. Significant reversals can occur that may cause short-sighted observers to abandon the “prophetic significance” of longer-running developments such as globalization or globalism.
This apparent reversal is only modest to date … certainly not yet of the scale of the reversal that occurred as a result of WWI. The “Gilded Age” of globalization anchored by the British currency then experienced a harsh reversal.
The decline of globalization at that earlier time (or presently) did and does not negate the long-term trend of globalization. One would be wrong to make the pronouncement that the advance of globalization has ended and therefore is no longer “prophetically significant.” As mentioned, short-term trends can be notoriously misleading. In any case, today’s state of globalization and globalism is already so advanced that any reversal would hardly delay the fulfillment of prophecy.
Ship-Shape for the Endtimes
An interesting side-light to the discussion of globalization is the role of ocean-going ships. Even today over 90% of world trade still travels by ship. Ships therefore are the symbol of global trade. Therefore, the recent bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, the 7the largest ship company in the world, has caused quite a shock. Just why did this South Korea-based shipper run aground? World trade volumes have been flat to slightly negative; however, one would think that a small cyclical downturn should be easily survived.
Virtually every major industry can face steep cyclical downturns. This is rarely fatal. Why not so shippers? The modern container-ship shipping industry has never before experienced a prolonged downturn in growth. The great globalization boom resulted in massive trade volume expansion …. at an average of 7% per annum for over 50 years.
As such, the industry over-expanded its capacity, assuming global trade growth would resume. Since 2000, the total fleet capacity has risen four-fold. The “turning of globalization” has contributed to massive over-capacity, and as such, shipping costs have come under pressure.
It is interesting to recount how the revolutionary changes in the shipping industry contributed to the world boom in international trade. It was only in 1956 that the twenty foot container was invented by the Seal-Land company, which was founded by the shipping pioneer, Malcolm McLean. The container greatly increased the speed of shipments. They could be easily unloaded directly to railroad cars or transport trucks. Prior to that time, cargo would be loaded manually piece by piece.
We here insert an excerpt from the February 2005 article Ship-Shape for the Endtimes:
What’s Shaping Up for the Future?
The Bible says that the spirit of Tyre, that ancient city whose name was synonymous with Tarshish, shipping, trade and idolatry, will again re-appear on the world’s stage. “At the end of seventy years, the LORD will deal with Tyre. She will return to her hire as a prostitute and will ply her trade with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth” (Isaiah 23:16-17). Tyre has never re-emerged upon the world scene in any literal sense.
Likely, the Bible is referring to the spirit behind Tyre — a greed-infused emphasis upon materialism and commerce as the raison d’etre for mankind’s existence. In fact, Ezekiel identifies this very spirit as being Satan himself. (See Ezekiel 28:12-19.) Assuming that this interpretation is correct, we can anticipate that the “spirit of Tyre” will be a mark of the endtime world. The very same spirit is in clear evidence in Revelation 18 which describes a world-wide colossus dependent upon trading ships.
Is that time in the near future? Based on the evidence of trends of just this past half century — even just the past few decades — we would be unwise to not recognize the signs of the times. Even shipping trends and developments cry out their message. It would not be sensationalist to conclude that the time described in Revelation 18 is already in clear view. World trading activity has literally boomed unlike any other period ever before in history. And, moreover, the world trading system is dependent upon ships as ever, despite the emergence of other advanced forms of transport.
A large part — a third — of the world’s trade network is destroyed at the time of the second trumpet (Revelations 8:9). The entire trading system — at least its systemic hub, Babylon the Great — is destroyed in one hour. That same time may be depicted in this Old Testament prophecy: “The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship (ship of Tarshish) and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear” (Isaiah 2:12-18).
But before all this can happen, a world-wide trading and shipping colossus must emerge. We see that happening before our very eyes today … despite the ups and downs of business cycles and periodic financial crises.
About the Author: Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street investment bank, and head of Canada’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis. His newest book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the future.