We are now at the half-way point of the course. Up to now, the course has been heavy on readings and viewings assigned by me, the professor, accompanied by my own writings. From here on until the end, we are shifting a bit. There will still be some assigned readings and viewings, and I’ll still offer some of my own commentary. But the second half of the course is more up to you and depends on your insights. A bigger part of the work now involves you reading, analyzing, and sharing the books you chose. Towards the end of the course, in last unit, there’s an extended essay for you to clarify your thinking on some particular issue.
Along with this shift in emphasis, there is a shift in what we are exploring. So far, we have essentially been exploring questions that ask What is?, What has happened?, How have economists described it?, and What was?. That is, we’ve been rather past-centric. Now I want you to shift your thinking and look forward. In the next few units we are going to explore current issues, trends, and dynamics. I don’t know how issues will play out. I don’t know what the outcomes will be. I do know that the issues we are going to explore may play a significant role in determining the economic system and economy that you will live in. In other words, I want you to start looking forward and trying to figure out what’s happening now and how it might change your future world.
In 1992, Francis Fukayama suggested in a well-publicized book that the end of the Soviet Union and soviet-style communism meant the end of history. He suggested that struggles over economic and political systems and ideology were over. Free-market, “liberal democracies” as practiced by the U.S. and the U.K. had been established as the only option. Now, two decades later and well into the 21st century, it appears he could not have been more wrong. Perhaps the Soviet-communism vs. U.S. globalization struggle was settled, but ideology for economic systems settled? Not likely.
In this unit we look at some of the challenges, issues, and trends that will transform economic systems and societies in the 21st century. So warm up your crystal ball and let’s look. First up is the global banking system, the European currency system, and the rise of multi-national corporations.