The Economist 封面文章精读 20190126 (2)

The Economist 封面文章精读 20190126 (1)

The Economist 封面文章精读 20190126 (3)

Globalisation has slowed from light speed to a snail’s pace in the past decade for several reasons. The cost of moving goods has stopped falling. Multinational firms have found that global sprawl(n.[sing,U]a large area of buildings that are spread out in an untidy and unattractive way) burns money and that local rivals often eat them alive. Activity is shifting towards services, which are harder to sell across borders: scissors can be exported in 20ft-containers, hair stylists cannot. And Chinese manufacturing has become more self-reliant, so needs to import fewer parts.

This is the fragile backdrop(n.[C]the conditions or situation in which something happens) to Mr Trump’s trade war. Tariffs tend to get the most attention. If America ratchets up(ratchet up: to increase something by a small amount, especially after a series of increases, or to increase in this way) duties on China in March, as it has threatened, the average tariff rate on all American imports will rise to 3.4%, its highest for 40 years. (Most firms plan to pass the cost on to customers.) Less(prep. taking away or not including a particular amount) glaring, but just as pernicious(adj. very harmful or evil, often in a way that you do not notice easily), is that rules of commerce are being rewritten around the world. The principle that investors and firms should be treated equally regardless of their nationality is being ditched(v[T] to stop having something because you no longer want it).

Evidence for this is everywhere. Geopolitical rivalry is gripping(v[T]to have a strong effect on someone or something) the tech industry, which accounts for about 20% of world stockmarkets. Rules on privacy, data and espionage are splintering. Tax systems are being bent to patriotic ends—in America to prod firms to repatriate capital, in Europe to target Silicon Valley. America and the EU have new regimes(n[C] a particular system - used especially when talking about a previous system, or one that has just been introduced) for vetting(v[T]to check someone’s past activities, relationships etc in order to make sure that person is suitable for a particular job, especially an important one) foreign investment, while China, despite its bluster(n.[U]speaking in a loud angry way that is not really very impressive), has no intention of giving foreign firms a level(adj. having the same value or position as something or someone else) playing-field. America has weaponised the power it gets from running the world’s dollar-payments system, to punish foreigners such as Huawei. Even humdrum(adj. tedious) areas such as accounting and antitrust(adj. [only before noun]反垄断的) are fragmenting.


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