Every economic system develops a politics around the institutions and rules that govern it. The economic system now being created by the relentless merging of the world's markets will be no exception. But what global politics will emerge to match the new global economy?
The economic orthodoxy that guides the management of the global economy has failed to deliver. During the past two decades of accelerated privatization, deregulation, and free trade, global growth has actually slowed. The countries (mostly Asian) that grew faster rejected the advice of the bankers, bureaucrats, consultants, and media pundits who constitute the Washington Consensus on such matters. At the same time, inequality both in developed and in developing countries has generally worsened and poverty is spreading. Even James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, has observed: "At the level of people, the system isn't working."
The World Trade Organization finally found a safe place to hold a meeting. Doha, a city in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikhdom of Qatar, is only 1,000 miles from Afghanistan. It is a 9,000-mile flight from Seattle, where two years ago street protestors frustrated the WTO's attempt to set an agenda for another "round" of negotiations over rules for global trading and investment. But this time, on November 14, protected by a detachment of plainclothes U.S. marines in a desert theocracy sealed tight against outsiders, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick engineered an agreement on an agenda over which 142 countries will negotiate during the next three years.