Ten Years

That Shook the (Capitalist) World: 1988-1998 (2e)

This book opens with an introduction to the essential principles of ‘Free Trade, Globalization and International Business’ before exploring the nature of uncertainty, risk and decision-making in ‘unknowable’ times.

Ten Years then embarks on a fascinating exploration of an extraordinary decade in modern economic and business history during which globalization forces combined to create the hi-tech, inter-connected world we live in today.

The journey commences in 1988 with markets in turmoil, greed in the ascendency (a sign of things to come), walls falling, curtains opening, Germany reunifying, China emerging, the USSR collapsing, George Soros taking on the Bank of England, the fractious 1992 process limping towards a European Single Market following five centuries of turmoil and terror —  and all of this within four years!

As the decade progressed, the Chinese dragon fiercely roared and its economy soared. Japan wilted while the ‘Asian Tiger’ economies of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand flourished before many then floundered. The US quietly blossomed in a sustained period of real (non-inflationary) economic growth underpinned by cumulative annual productivity gains and technological progress.

At the outset of our tumultuous ten years, the much-maligned and misunderstood WTO, with all its rules and regulations and deterrents and structures and commitment to fair play, was still on the horizon. Meanwhile, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) meandered along its half-century journey towards a belated birth of multilateral, rules-based ‘free trade’ in 1995.

In our decade, global financial markets were characterized by extreme turbulence that saw capitalism face-off against two varieties of communism, witnessed dramatic transformations in information and communications technologies, and concluded with the Asian financial crisis and the newly minted Russian state defaulting on its sovereign debt in 1998, threatening Wall St. in the process.

Ten Years That Shook the (Capitalist) World: 1988-1998 (2e) chronicles these cataclysmic events and addresses many burning questions that define the modern era:

      • What is globalization? And was it designed?
      • Why do countries trade? And is it ‘free’?
      • Risk, uncertainty and chance: Does God play dice?
      • The Berlin Wall falls, Germany reunifies, Comecon unravels, the Soviet Union dissolves, the Cold War ends: Game over? Or end of Round One?
      • What is liberal democracy? And did history end?
      • A tale of two Chinas: What happened and why?
      • The EU is born, kicking and screaming. But did this success sow the seeds of future failure?
      • What is the WTO? And does it matter?
      • Who invented the internet? And how did it happen?
      • Capitalism versus communism: Final score or half-time?
      • Is there a case for optimism?
      • 20/20 vision: Doom and gloom or new enlightenment?

Over many decades there have been multiple interruptions to the smooth progression of globalization, as our studied decade in Ten Years amply demonstrates. Despite this, by taking a long-term historical perspective, it is possible to recognise that the forces driving it forward have far outweighed those working against it.


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