Global supply chains

The best way to understand economic interdependence is the classic pamphlet I, Pencil.

Here are a collection of past student assignments that explore how interconnected basic products are:

Here is a great article showing the economic interdependence required to produce the Pfizer vaccine

“A medicine with 280 different components, manufactured in 86 different sites across 19 countries, driven partly by the research of a son and daughter of Turkish migrants to Germany. That’s globalization in a needle”

The Financial Times accompanied a report on disruptions to bicycle supply chains with this amazing interactive graphic.

This tweet went viral in 2021

But it neglects how efficient container ships are.

Modern globalization was partly fueled by technological advances such as containerization:

The impact of containerisation on shipping costs has been dramatic (see DeLong, 2022, p. 466)

Here is Martin Wolf’s overview of the conclusions about globalization:

  1. The impact of global trade on inequality and employment has been modest
  2. Although, from 1999-2011 competition from China contributed to around half of the loss of US manufacturing jobs
  3. Technical change has raised the demand for skilled labour (and this factor is much more powerful than changes in trading relations)
Wolf, M., 2023, The crisis of democratic capitalism, Allen Lane, p. 141

  • Levinson, Marc (2006) The Box, Princeton University Press – this is a stunning account of just how impactful the standardised container box and global shipping industry were for material progress