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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Irving Wladawsky: The Changing Structure of Global Supply Chains

Nicely done piece by my former IBM connect Irving Wladawsky, excerpt below,  more at the link. Right up my deepest interest alley. 

The Changing Structure of Global Supply Chains

“The golden age of globalisation, in 1990-2010, was something to behold,” wrote The Economist in a January, 2019 article.  “Commerce soared as the cost of shifting goods in ships and planes fell, phone calls got cheaper, tariffs were cut and the financial system liberalised.” The very nature of the global firm was transformed during these two decades, with The Globally Integrated Enterprise destined to become the corporate model of the future, said IBM CEO Sam Palmisano in a 2006 Foreign Affairs article.

But, then global trade started slow down. “After the go-go 1990s and 2000s the pace of economic integration stalled in the 2010s, as firms grappled with the aftershocks of a financial crisis, a populist revolt against open borders and President Donald Trump’s trade war,” wrote The Economist in its June 18, 2022 lead article. “The flow of goods and capital stagnated. Many bosses postponed big decisions on investing abroad: just-in-time gave way to wait-and-see. No one knew if globalisation faced a blip or extinction.”

“Now the waiting is over, as the pandemic and war in Ukraine have triggered a once-in-a-generation reimagining of global capitalism in boardrooms and governments,” added the article. “Everywhere you look, supply chains are being transformed, from the $9trn in inventories, stockpiled as insurance against shortages and inflation, to the fight for workers as global firms shift from China into Vietnam. This new kind of globalisation is about security, not efficiency: it priorities doing business with people you can rely on, in countries your government is friendly with.”

Most everyone agrees that global supply chains will be restructured over the next decade, accelerating the changes that were already in motion. “Decision-makers are increasingly concerned that supply chains should be robust, not just efficient,” said the briefing article in the same Economist issue. “As a result they are choosing to depend less on jurisdictions where they are exposed to risk. And countries are experimenting with industrial policies aimed at self-reliance or international pre-eminence in at least some ‘strategic’ technologies and businesses.” Let me discuss each of these potential changes.   .... ' 

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