BOSTON – At times, the world may feel like it’s in a state of chaotic freefall as geopolitical risks continue to escalate. But while existential dread has never felt more tangible, Fareed Zakaria, best-selling author and host of Fareed Zakaria GPS for CNN Worldwide, is calm, cool, and focused on the economic growth of the world. In a keynote address Tuesday afternoon at AFP 2019, he painted a hopeful picture of the future to attendees.
A UNIQUE ERA
While the political nature of the world is concerning, Zakaria pointed out that the world is actually in a state of synchronous growth; China, the United States, Vietnam, India, South American countries, and others have all demonstrated positive growth each year for multiple years. In 2018, Africa was responsible for six of the fastest growing economic markets in the world—highlighting a global resurgence.
This economic security we see is due to three contributing factors—political stability, economic convergence and the development of a global technological information system, Zakaria explained. The world is in a more harmonious state when major powers are not in conflict with one another; prior to the fall of communism, we saw the Soviet Union and the U.S. funding numerous proxy wars, dragging the rest of the world into their battle for global dominance. Zakaria recognizes that the decline of these major conflicts is in part due to the economic convergence that occurred in the free market after communism fell.
What is unique to the current era is the globalization of information systems. Humans are connected in modes we could have never imagined before, and at the same time, populations who haven’t previously been a part of the global narrative are now able to participate for the first time. “We have had an explosion of information, and that information has completely transformed the world; it has connected the world in ways we cannot understand,” said Zakaria.
The invention of satellite communication technology fundamentally changed the way countries in Africa could participate—not only in our global communication network but economically. One of the most positive effects has been the proliferation of economic participation due to mobile banking.
The future is hard to plan for, especially when we account for the threat of our depleting global climate. But for Zakaria, this moment is what the rest of the world has been waiting for. For so long the West has dominated trade policies, has always had power in defining globalism, and has been responsible for most technological advancements. But now, we have seen the emergence of “the rest” of the world. Despite what appears as chaos, for the first time in our history, we are experiencing a seismic shift in the locus of global power, resulting in millions around the world gaining economic and political freedom, as well as cultural recognition and acceptance.
While there is no singular answer for combating forces of global disruption, there is the correct outlook that Zakaria has given us. When we step back and take in the collective account of human history, for the first time ever, we are the lucky ones who get to live through the democratic liberation of millions around the world. We are the lucky ones who get to experience a world that is shaped not by only two major powers, but by a large and diverse number of countries, paving the way toward a world that is truly designed for all. This is the outlook that treasury and finance professionals need as they navigate global forces of disruption, because the future is ours—all of ours, and that is something we cannot lose sight of.
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