Although the negative effects of geopolitical events get more attention, geopolitical events also create positive investment opportunities. From globalization to free trade, international cooperation has complex implications for investing.
Geopolitics is not all about conflict and potential economic and market shocks. The flip side of geopolitical rivalry is geopolitical cooperation in the form of free trade and globalization. Chapter 4 of Geo-Economics: The Interplay between Geopolitics, Economics, and Investments shows how out of the ruins of the Second World War, the Allied forces created the modern structure of global economic collaboration based on the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. Much maligned, these institutions and the overall shift toward globalization and free trade have been the most powerful forces for good ever invented by mankind. Thanks to globalization and free trade, billions of people in emerging markets have been lifted out of poverty and living standards in industrialized countries have increased significantly for decades. And although globalization has slowed in the last decade, this chapter shows that further globalization and trade liberalization would benefit even the most developed countries.
Of course, globalization and free trade have not only been forces for good. The current critique of globalization points to rising inequality in developed countries as a negative side effect. And although globalization has reduced global inequality, it has indeed increased inequality on a national level. This shift, in turn, has led to populist anti-globalization movements on both the left and the right of the political spectrum. But reversing globalization in the name of reducing inequality is the wrong move. As this chapter shows, there is still plenty to be gained from further globalization. The political challenge is to make sure that those benefits are more equally distributed than in the past.