Published On: Thu, Jun 14th, 2018

Canaries in the coal mine

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IF YOU look only at the headline numbers, populism and protectionism seem to be weirdly good for global business. Since 2015 there has been Brexit, the rise of fringe parties in the euro zone, the election of President Donald Trump and a more nationalistic China under Xi Jinping, its president. Yet over this period the profits of the world’s biggest 3,000 listed firms have risen by 44% in dollar terms. Share prices have soared. As for tariffs, for now they are little more than an irritant for most bosses. Plenty of Western firms are still keen on exotic thrills far beyond their borders—in May, Walmart bid $ 16bn for Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce company. Starbucks is opening a new shop in China every 15 hours.

Look more closely, however, and you will see that the decay of globalisation is accompanied by a steady demoralisation of multinationals. Between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subprime crisis some 20 years later, a few thousand corporate cosmopolitans became ever more…

The Economist: Business

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Canaries in the coal mine