Globalization - that irresistible force that was inevitably, inexorably making the world flat - looks to be in retreat. Trade growth has never recovered to the levels reached before the 2008 financial crisis. Donald Trump is fueling his presidential campaign on fear of free trade and immigration. The economic problems of the U.S., he blasted in a June speech, are "the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism." Then came Brexit, the worst setback for the European Union, that most ambitious experiment in globalization. Money manager Bill Gross said Brexit marks "the end of globalization as we've known it."
In the shadow of Greenwich's 02 Arena - the futuristic dome originally built as London’s showpiece for the Millennium - what looks like a picnic cooler on wheels zips among groups of gawking children. This little delivery robot, designed to autonomously navigate sidewalks, not roads, later this year will begin making deliveries from local businesses direct to customers. In doing so, it may just conquer e-commerce's final frontier: the Last Mile, the least efficient and most problematic step in the delivery process.
It's easy to scoff at the anti-free-trade rhetoric emanating from the U.S. presidential campaign trail. Donald Trump keeps yelling about China, Mexico and Japan. Bernie Sanders won't stop shouting about greedy multinational corporations. Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are awkwardly leaning in the same direction. If you're a typical pro-trade business executive, you're tempted to ask: Were these people throwing Frisbees on the quad during Econ 101?
In its quest to slake the world's thirst, Coca-Cola is intent on making milk a billion-dollar brand. But not just any kind of milk. Coke has joined forces with a dairy cooperative to create Fairlife, which produces a filtered, high-protein, low-sugar, lactose-free designer milk also called Fairlife.
Shipbuilders, container lines and port operators feasted on China's rise and the global resources boom. Now they're among the biggest victims of the country's slowdown and the worldwide decline in demand for oil rigs and other gear amid the oil price plunge.
Beijing is crawling with motorcycle-mounted deliverymen, one sign of the rapid growth of China's service industries. Services grew 8.3 percent last year and for the first time generated more than half of gross domestic product, or 50.5 percent. Manufacturing rose only 6 percent. "If it hadn't been for the service sector, China's economy would be in a much worse state today," says Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong. He notes that all kinds of services have expanded quickly in recent years.
In 2016, the U.S. will learn if renewable energy can survive without government support. The most significant tax credit for solar power will expire at the end of 2016, and the biggest one for wind already has.