In the 1960s James Lovelock introduced the popular Gaia Hypothesis, proposing the entire earth (living and non-living) is part of a complex interacting system functioning as a single organism. (Read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis.)
Another baby-boomer, utopia-dreaming mantra of world unity was John Lennon's 1971 song: Imagine. Everyone knows it. (Come on sing along, you know you want to.) Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do…
It's said that Lennon described the song as "an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted." He also (supposedly) said Imagine is "virtually the Communist Manifesto."
Believe it or not, both visions of utopia are starting to come true! But probably not quite in the way Messrs Lennon or Lovelock would've imagined. It's no small bit of irony that the world is more cohesive today—and growing evermore so—precisely because of capitalism and globalization. Call it the Gaia economy.
But we think folks are still too often focused on their domicile country and fail to see the bigger picture. At this point, it's not just important for investors to recognize the Gaia economy, it's imperative. Gaia isn't just the stuff of multi-lateral governmental trade pacts or big multinational corporations. Everyone's affected by it, even the little guys.
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A few benefits of a Gaia economy include:
Therefore, one of the biggest risks to stocks and the economy is governments blocking the global Gaia initiative (AKA protectionism). Potential barriers to free trade could kill the global organism. But for all the political rhetoric lately, the trend seems to be in globalization's favor. World trade borders are evaporating and new trade accords are signed regularly. Governments are increasingly aware their countries aren't islands. To wipe out the percentage of GDP arising from foreign lands—for any developed country today—would effectively cripple it. The recent decision to reject tariffs on Chinese paper goods is only one example of many.
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The best way to imagine accelerating global growth and prosperity is to continue opening borders, eliminate tariffs and other fees, and allow evermore folks (particularly in developing regions) to participate.
We aren't saying the world isn't without its problems, or even that globalization is the answer to all ills. Huge economic and cultural challenges remain:
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But for all that, the web of economic interdependence grows denser by the day—countries and regions inextricably linking themselves together. And there is much further to go.
We imagine a world of free trade where governments allow capital and goods to flow freely through borders. You may say we're dreamers, but we're not the only ones. We hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.
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*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.