Peterson Institute: Rebuilding the Global Economy

A special series outlining policy priorities and solutions heading into 2021 by the Peterson Institute for International Economics

The world economy is experiencing a corrosion of globalization. The web of economic and commercial ties across the world is fraying, with more frequent and larger gaps in it—even as trade in goods, services, and technology shifts locations and in some places grows. For globalization is multidimensional, encompassing much more than international trade, though panic about trade gets most of the political and press attention. What matters for human welfare is the quality, not the quantity, of globalization. As global economic integration deteriorates, its benefits for everyone are eroding.

Worldwide, people want to be left in peace, make a decent living, educate their children, look after their families, and, if possible, save for the future. For decades that simple but profound state of economic safety and freedom became ever more widely attained, largely hand-in-hand with increased international openness. But we have been going mostly in the wrong direction on both counts since at least 2008, well before COVID-19. The economic and social impact of the pandemic has not just accelerated the corrosion of commerce and relationships across borders but also made undeniable the extreme vulnerability of the world’s population to disease, economic insecurity, and exclusion.

As a result, the risks of the most genuinely existential threats—climate change, technological slowdown, racial and gender-based oppression, digital disinformation and removal of privacy, aging populations, and the likely recurrence of epidemics—have risen. All of these threats are global, in that they are common to all humanity, and can be lastingly reduced only by global cooperative action. All of these threats are economic, in that beyond their direct human toll, their causes and lasting impact are meaningfully changed by our economic activities and policies. Both markets and international institutions have failed to deliver economic safety in the absence of global engagement by governments. Successful economic cooperation needs specific constructive policies with tangible deliverable results.

That is why we at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) are providing work plans for Rebuilding the Global EconomyHeading into 2021 (and a new US presidential term), we are telling policymakers what needs to be repaired by defining critical and practical priorities and solutions. Our work plans will be published on a rolling basis through the end of 2020, culminating in the release in January 2021 of a comprehensive policy program for rebuilding. They will take the form of memoranda to policymakers and Policy Briefs, accompanied by data visualizations, blogs, videos, and virtual events with experts from our team of fellows and our Board of Directors.

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