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In Davos draw Parallels with 1914. - the year of the beginning of the First world
Material posted: Publication date: 24-01-2014

In Davos, Switzerland came the third day of the annual world economic forum (WEF). Made on the eve of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott, the planned discussion about the prospects of the BRICS countries, global food security and the future of the American economy.

However, the special atmosphere of the forum by tradition is formed not only and not so much the official themes of the ongoing sessions, but some common ideas floating in the air of Davos and with the current Zeitgeist.

The pre-war situation?

One of these ideas was the parallel between the States of the world in 2014. and in 1914. that is, between the modern political and economic situation and the start time of the First world war. The reason for the reasoning on this subject was the speech of the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, who compared the cooling of Sino-Japanese relations in recent years with the rivalry Britain and Germany before the First world war.

Commenting on the territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing in the East China sea, the Japanese leader drew an analogy with the "arms race", which the British fought with the Germans in the early twentieth century. He drew attention to the fact that the close and mutually beneficial economic ties between London and Berlin did not prevent the two monarchies to begin with each other the war in 1914. Japan and China also have strong trade relations: in 2013. the trade turnover between them amounted to 313 billion dollars.

After the speech, Abe Japanese officials hastened to dispel fears about a possible military conflict with China. The chief Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Japan Acehide Suga said that Abe did not mean the beginning of the Sino-Japanese war in the foreseeable future.

"The Prime Minister has made it clear that he is against endless military expansion in Asia. He meant that the dialogue and legality, not troops and threats necessary to establish peace and prosperity in the region", - said E. Suga. And yet the very fact that such statements from the Japanese Prime Minister seemed to many observers not accidental.

The deceleration of globalization

Professor, School of business at new York University Nouriel Roubini, known as "the man who predicted the global financial crisis," he wrote on Twitter that many speakers at the WEF draw analogies with 1914. "at the outbreak of the First world war, which nobody expected."

"Echoes of 1914" in today's day N.Roubini sees "a negative response to globalization, gilded age of inequality, the growing geopolitical tensions and ignoring financial risks". However, the alarming Parallels between 2014. and 1914. surfaced to the present, the world economic forum in Davos. The analysts point to the interruption of the process of globalization as a common place characteristic of the years of the First world war and to the present day.

Chief economist at Morgan Stanley, Joachim Fels last year stated that "concerned about the trend towards de-globalization of economic activity and capital flows" (quoted by Bloomberg). This position is shared by experts at the McKinsey Global Institute that in 2013. published research on the topic of globalization in the financial sector and pointed to the suspension of the process after the financial crisis. Thus, the volume of cross-border movement of capital is one of the indicators of financial globalization - at the present time is more than 60% below the peak level of 2007.

The situation in international politics the beginning of 2014. also justifies the analogy with the era of a century ago. The story of the audition the national security Agency (NSA) of the USA world leaders and their citizens is reminiscent of the spy scandals of the early XX century. For example, the so-called Zimmerman telegram. In 1917. a Washington was the President's message German foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman to the plan of attraction of Mexico on its side in the case of us-German conflict. The incident became a pretext for the United States to join world war I on the side of the opponents of Germany.

In addition, experts point to the implicit protectionism of many large States, which also undermines the process of globalization. Many investors "vote with their feet" in response to the introduction in foreign markets deterrents. The head of a large pharmaceutical company Actavis Floor, Bisaro announced on 20 January 2014. resignation of the firm from the market of the PRC. "In China, a bad business climate. The conduct of Affairs in this country is not worth the frustration and anxiety that we experienced. Investment risks were too great," he explained.

It is also noted the increase of artificial barriers to the free migration of labor. Even such strong lobbyists, as General Electric and Google, are unable to "push" the relief of American immigration rules to attract skilled workers from abroad. It is worth to recall the recent statements of the Prime Minister of great Britain David Cameron against the influx of labour migrants from Central and Eastern Europe after their accession to the EU.

By the way, a recent study by researchers from the business school IESE, University of Navarra (Spain) showed that the global recession and resulting higher unemployment have played a major role in the creation of migration barriers. "Policy of attracting workers in the advanced economies will remain just a catchy slogan, while the unemployment rate in these countries will not fall", - says one of the report's findings.

Should we trust predictions of the Davos forum?

Still, not all experts share the anxious concerns of the participants of the Davos forum. Harvard Professor and influential political scientist Joseph Nye has recently published an article that also compared the current international situation with the era of the First world. Agreeing with some analogies, John.Nai denies the adherence of our world "scenario 1914." A few important details makes our world different from the world a century ago, he said.

First, is the presence of nuclear weapons as a deterrent: current political leaders, unlike emperors of the early XX century, one need not "read the tea leaves" to understand the consequences of global armed conflict. Secondly, the modern ideology and indoctrination is quite weak. In 1910-e years, most people were convinced of the inevitability of war, based on scientific and quasi-scientific theories and ideological dogmas.

British businessman Roger Carr, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Corporation, BAE Systems, notes that the Davos forum is not too reliable a source of reliable global predictions. "If you look back, you will see that many of the themes that seemed important a year ago, now do not occupy so much attention," said R. Carr in an interview with Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the Parallels with 1914. likely to gain momentum in the near future. Not the last role in it plays the upcoming hundredth anniversary of the First world war and the associated "magic numbers".

Georgi Makarenko


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