/Want to know what future battles over globalization will be about? Look to the chip shortage

Want to know what future battles over globalization will be about? Look to the chip shortage

Summary: The worldwide shortage of semiconductors is a window into competing priorities about how to handle the virtues and vices of global economic integration.

Original authors and publication date: Anthe Roberts and Nicolas Lamp – October 6, 2021

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Humans fought so many war for so many reasons that a war for micropchips will surprise nobody.

From the article:

The worldwide shortage of semiconductors has been a staple of this year’s headlines, and for good reason. The chip shortage is a story of superpower conflict, corporate concentration, and industrial policy ambitions, with affected parties ranging from carmakers to cryptocurrency miners.

But the shortage is also something else: a window into competing priorities about how to handle the virtues and vices of global economic integration.

Perhaps the most common reading of the chip shortage is that it’s a spectacular comeuppance for the hyperefficient, yet brittle, supply chains that have been a hallmark of the post–Cold War wave of globalization. This ties to a broader focus on “resilience” that has been growing since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as officials scrambled to procure masks and ventilators. This argument emphasizes self-reliance over interdependence, diversification over concentration, and redundancy over efficiency.

Yet the resilience argument misses important parts of the picture: namely government actions, specifically by successive U.S. administrations. First, President Trump levied tariffs on all things Chinese (including semiconductors). Then his administration also tried to prevent exports of U.S.-made, and later of any U.S.-designed, semiconductors to China. Many of these policies have been continued by the Biden administration.

What was (and is) going on here?

READ the full article here