Paul Craig Roberts
If the coronavirus proves to be serious, as it does not appear to be at the present time, many economies could be adversely affected. China is the source of many parts supplied to producers in other countries, and China is the source of the finished products of many US firms such as Apple. If shipments cannot be made, sales and production outside of China are affected. Without revenues, employees cannot be paid. Unlike the financial crisis of 2008, this would be an unemployment crisis and bankruptcy of large manufacturing and marketing corporations.
This is the danger to which globalism makes us vulnerable. If US corporations produced in the US the products that they market in the US and the world, an epidemic in China would affect only their Chinese sales, not threaten the companies’ revenues.
The thoughtless people who constructed “globalism” overlooked that interdependence is dangerous and can have massive unintended consequences. With or without an epidemic, supplies can be cut off for a number of reasons. For example, strikes, political instability, natural catastrophes, sanctions and other hostiity such as wars, and so forth. Clearly, these dangers to the system are not justified by the lower labor cost and consequent capital gains to shareholders and bonuses to corporate executives. Only the one percent benefits from globalism.
Globalism was constructed by people motivated by short-term greed. None of the promises of globalism have been delivered. Globalism is a massive mistake. Yet, almost everywhere political leaders and economists are protective of globalism. So much for human intelligence.
At this point of time, it is difficult to understand the hysteria over coronavirus and predictions of global pandemic. In China there are about 24,000 infections and 500 deaths in a population of 1.3 billion people. This is an inconsequential illness. Compared to the ordinary seasonal flu that infects millions of people worldwide and kills 600,000, the coronavirus so far amounts to nothing. Infections outside of China are miniscule and appear to be limited to Chinese people. It is difficult to know for certain, because of the reluctance to identify people by race.
Yet China has huge areas in quarantine, and travel to and from the country is restricted. Nothing like these precautions are taken against seasonal flu. So far this flu season in the US alone 19 million people have been sickened, 180,000 hospitalized, and 10,000 have died. The latest report is that 16 people in the US (possibly all Chinese) have come down with coronavirus, and none have died. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/03/the-flu-has-already-killed-10000-across-us-as-world-frets-over-coronavirus.html
Perhaps the coronavirus is just warming up and much worse is to come. If so, world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will take a hit. Quarantines prevent work. Finished products and parts cannot be made and shipped. Sales cannot take place without products to sell. Without revenues companies cannot pay employees and other expenses. Incomes decline across the world. Companies go bankrupt. You can take it from here.
If a deadly coronavirus pandemic or some other one does erupt and there is a world depression, we should be very clear in our mind that globalism was the cause. Countries whose governments are so thoughtless or corrupt as to make their populations vulnerable to disruptive events abroad are medically, economically, socially, and politically unstable.
The consequence of globalism is world instability.