Omnibus of a weeks’ newspaper coverage (reprints):
Are Oil Costs Creating a ‘Made Here’ Movement?
NY Times’ Andrew C. Revkin on August 2, 2008
Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization
NY Times’ Larry Rohter on August 3, 2008
Larry Rohter, who recently returned to the United States after many years covering Brazil, has a fascinating story in the Sunday paper examining how high oil prices may be blunting the globalization of manufacturing. Concerns over carbon dioxide emissions may be playing a role, as well. He starts out with an anecdote about Tesla Motors, which planned to build its batteries in Thailand, assemble most of the components of its electric sports cars in Britain, and then sell them in the United States.
But high shipping costs have changed that company’s plans, and those of many others, Larry writes. Here’s the “nut graf”:
Cheap oil, the lubricant of quick, inexpensive transportation links across the world, may not return anytime soon, upsetting the logic of diffuse global supply chains that treat geography as a footnote in the pursuit of lower wages. Rising concern about global warming, the reaction against lost jobs in rich countries, worries about food safety and security, and the collapse of world trade talks in Geneva last week also signal that political and environmental concerns may make the calculus of globalization far more complex.
Maybe the world is not as flat, or small, as it once seemed. The breakdown of trade talks also implies more countries are thinking local. I’m not sure this bodes well for the global thinking, and interaction, that’d have to take place if the world were to get serious about curbing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. What’s your take?