What’s changed?

Some big changes have occurred in our world recently in a range of areas, from trade to jobs to energy and to environmental issues. What’s behind these shifts? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains.

“Economists and others who look at these kinds of changes think there have been three big global forces in recent decades affecting all of us: One, the collapse of communism. That was, of course, signified by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. What this has done is opened up Eastern Europe, really integrated much of Eastern Europe into the world economy.

“Secondly was the shift in China from a form of communism to now a form of capitalism. And what that has done is unleashed the productive capabilities of the Chinese people and the Chinese country. They have become, as most people know, a big, big player in the world economy.

“And then third is information technology, literally making the world smaller.

“The net result of all this … has been that we really have seen over the last two decades 1.5 billion new customers, really … enter the world economic complex both as consumers and as producers. This has meant more trade. It’s meant cheaper products. But it’s also meant more energy consumption and a shift in jobs, particularly in our country.”

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