Asian Financial Crisis: A Macro Perspective

By Kavaljit Singh

Almost three years have passed since the Thai currency devaluation led to the emergence of a severe currency crisis in the entire Southeast Asian region (except Taiwan and China) in mid-1997. The currency crisis, initially dismissed as a temporary phenomenon by many commentators, has taken the form of a severe economic crisis in these countries. Despite the multi-billion dollar IMF-led bailout programs in Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia, there are no positive signs of economic recovery. On the contrary, the bailout programs have further jeopardized future prospects of an early economic recovery in these countries, which had witnessed rapid growth in the 1980s and the early 1990s. Tight fiscal and monetary policies, as part of bailout programs, have led to a contraction in these economies. Various estimates have put the recovery period of these economies in the region to be at least half a decade.

The ripple effect of the Southeast Asian financial crisis have rattled markets not just within the region but even in far away countries of Eastern Europe and Latin America. Very few emerging markets in the world have been left untouched by the crisis. Even the highly industrialized countries are facing the impact of the Asian crisis. The implications of the Asian crisis on the global economy are far reaching as there is hardly any region in the world that has not been negatively affected by it. Thus, many commentators have rightly pointed out that the Asian crisis is no longer a regional crisis but a global crisis. None other than the world’s leading financier and speculator, George Soros, called it "the crisis of global capitalism."

What Really Caused the Asian Crisis: Crony Capitalism or Casino Capitalism?

A consensus on what really caused the Southeast Asian financial crisis is still to emerge. One school of thought holds domestic factors responsible for propelling the crisis. According to this school of thought, the Southeast Asian crisis was an outcome of ‘crony capitalism’ that led to widespread political interference with market processes by cronies of political leadership. Its proponents argue that ‘crony capitalism’ not merely led to corruption and inefficiency, it also induced fragility in the financial system in terms of misallocation of investments and moral hazard.

Although the author is critical of ‘crony capitalism’ since it works against the democratic spirit, public interest and the rule of law, however, it would be a serious mistake to blame it solely for creating the crisis for various reasons. First, in the case of Korean crisis, it is difficult to prove the role of ‘crony capitalism’ because large enterprises had been allowed by the government to go under in the pre-crisis period and much of foreign borrowings went into the tradable sector rather than fuelling asset bubbles in the non-tradable sector. Second, cronyism in the crisis-affected countries is not a recent phenomenon as it had been prevalent for the last four decades or so. Therefore, it does not explain why the financial crisis occurred as late as in 1997. Further, there is no evidence to prove that cronyism had suddenly cropped up in the years immediately preceding the onset of the crisis. Third, there are many countries in the Asian region and elsewhere where large-scale corruption and cronyism exist (e.g., China and India) but were not affected by the financial crisis. Lastly, similar financial crises have occurred in countries that are supposed to be free from ‘crony capitalism.’ Can one argue that the financial crisis in the ERM in 1992 or the crisis in the Scandinavian countries in the early 1990s was the result of ‘crony capitalism’?

There cannot be any unicausal explanation because a host of factors worked together in triggering the Asian crisis. In my view, if one is looking for one major reason responsible for the crisis, it is none other than financial globalization that facilitated massive and abrupt flight of capital almost to the tune of $105 billion in 1997. Attracted by short-term speculative gains, these financial flows are highly liquid and footloose, and can leave the country as quickly as they come. The problem is further compounded by the domestic structural weaknesses in the financial sector of recipient countries that find it difficult to manage the volatile capital flows. As a result of these factors, one is witnessing an increased frequency of financial crises in both the developed and the developing countries. For instance, the European Monetary System remained under siege for almost one year in 1992-93 (which also affected the non-EMS countries such as Finland and Sweden), to be followed by the Mexican currency crisis of 1994 and the Southeast Asian crisis which began in mid-1997.

The speed at which trillions of funds move across the border without any restrictions poses new challenges to policy makers, especially in the developing countries. Before policy makers can take corrective steps to deal with the rapid movements of flows, the damage has already been done to the financial markets and the real economy. "We started building the foundations of a house but suddenly we had to host a party," says former Governor of the Indonesian central bank. On the one hand, rapid inflows can lead to excessive lending and to bubbles in equity and property markets, while outflows (which are more rapid than inflows) can put downward pressures on currency, stock markets and real assets.

The Mexican crisis of 1994-95 and the currency crisis of Southeast Asia in 1997 highlight this problem. These crises were the results of massive and sudden withdrawal of private capital flows, thereby putting further downward pressure on their currencies. South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines experienced in the aggregate an outflow of US $105 billion in 1997 — from an inflow of $93 billion in 1996 to an outflow of $12 billion in 1997. Statistics further reveal that the outflow of funds was almost 10 percent of the combined GDP of these economies and much of this reversal originated from commercial bank lending and portfolio investment.

Therefore, any analysis of the Asian crisis will remain incomplete without a simultaneous analysis of the process of globalization. The Asian crisis is not a crisis of developmental state model; rather it is a crisis of globalization, particularly the globalization of finance.

The Words and Worlds of Globalization

Globalization, one of the most fashionable words nowadays, means different things to different people. Although there is no one particular definition of this term, people normally use trade and investment indicators to describe the growing economic interdependence among the countries. As the topic assigned to me is restricted to economic globalization, I will not deal with other types of globalization (e.g., cultural globalization).

Globalization is not a new phenomenon because people have been trading across the border throughout the history. Even in the recent history (50 years before the First World War of 1914-1918), there was massive flow of private capital across borders. From 1870 to 1913 period, the world was globalized as there were no restrictions on movement of goods and capital. In fact, trade and investment flows were much higher during that period than now in terms of GDP. For instance, the UK’s trade was almost 45 per cent of its GDP, which is not the case now. During this period, much of financial resources flowed into bonds for financing railways, roads and other infrastructure projects. The global financial system, at that time, ran according to the rules of the classical gold standard. The earlier phase of globalization was dominated by 8 military-economic superpowers (Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US). Currently, the G-7 countries (Canada has replaced Austria-Hungary) dominate the global financial system while Russia has been relegated to the status of a Third World country.

The present phase of globalization began in the late 1970s and early 1980s after the collapse of Bretton Woods system. What is new in the present phase of globalization is the speed in which money travels as billions can be transferred in just a few seconds by pressing a few buttons on the computer screen. However, there are three distinct differences between the present phase and the earlier phase of globalization. Firstly, in the earlier phase, there were no restrictions on movement of people and labor, which is certainly not the case now. Secondly, nation-state was the key economic and political player. Nowadays, nation-state is no longer the main economic player, it is only the political player. The real economic players are TNCs, international fund managers and international financial institutions. Lastly, financial flows in the earlier phase of globalization were related with production or trade. Nowadays, they are largely delinked from the real economy.

Essentially, the present phase of globalization consists of three distinct phenomena — the globalization of trade, globalization of production and the globalization of finance. The globalization of trade began much earlier as compared to other phenomena. Various bilateral and multilateral treaties such as GATT, WTO, NAFTA, etc have facilitated the globalization of trade and production. While the globalization of finance is a product of deregulation and liberalization of financial markets and capital account in the developed countries in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which was subsequently imposed on the developing countries by the IMF and the World Bank as part of structural adjustment programs. The globalization process has been further enhanced and strengthened by the growing collaboration and nexus of the national elites of the developing countries with their international counterparts.

In the recent past, much attention has been given to the globalization of trade and production by social movements and groups. Perhaps the best illustration of this was the huge demonstrations by the anti-WTO campaigners against the WTO ministerial meeting at Seattle in 1999. Let me concentrate on the relatively unknown and less debated issues related to the globalization of finance that includes the currency trade and investments in stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. I will focus on financial aspects more because it is much more dangerous than other processes. While globalization of trade and production contributes to the real economy, the globalization of finance has no linkage with real economy. It can not only destroy the economy of a nation within a few hours, but can also pose systemic risk to the economies of the entire region or the entire world.

The Carcinogenous Growth of Casino Capitalism

A number of factors, particularly unbridled financial liberalization, over-capacity and overproduction, technological advances have not only drastically changed the landscape but also the basic function of the global financial system. Thanks to innovations in the global financial world (e.g. options, futures, swaps, etc.), the financial system has become much more complex and unruly than it was twenty years ago. Much less regulated than the real economy, the financial economy has outgrown the real economy and has considerably blurred the existent relationship. The global financial markets have moved beyond their original function of facilitating cross border trade and investment. The financial markets are no longer a mechanism for making savings available for productive investments. Nowadays, global financial flows are less associated with the flows of real resources and long-term productive investments.

The foreign exchange market is the largest market in the world today. According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which monitors transactions in the world’s foreign exchange markets, $1.49 trillion ($1490,000,000,000) is traded on an average every single day. Whereas in 1977, the daily turnover in foreign exchange markets was just $18 billion. Since the breakdown of Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s, foreign exchange (forex) transactions have increased several times (see Table 1). Quite often, analysts tend to underestimate the significance and power of foreign exchange and money markets. It would be a serious mistake to underestimate the importance of these markets because the price at which money is bought and sold dictates the economic policies of national governments and therefore affects the lives of billions of people.

Table 1: Daily Global Forex Turnover, 1977-98 ($ Billion)

Year Daily Turnover
1977
1980
1983
1986
1989
1992
1995
1998
18.3
82.5
119.0
270.0
590.0
820.0
1190.0
1490.0

Source: Bank for International Settlements, 1998

Why do we need forex markets? The main function of forex markets is to facilitate cross border trade and investment. As different countries use different currencies, forex markets convert one currency to another currency for cross border deals. Historically, much of the trading in foreign exchange was due to international trade, as buyers and sellers of foreign goods and services needed another currency to settle their transactions. In the early 1970s, about 90 per cent of forex transactions were related to trade and investment. But now, forex trading has very little to do with international trade as most purchases and sales of forex are related to financial transactions rather than merchandise trade. In fact, forex trading has grown much faster than international trade in goods and services. In 1997, the global volume of exports of goods and services was $6.6 trillion ($5.2 trillion of goods exports and $1.3 trillion of services exports). This comes to only approximately 4 days of global forex trade. If one compares global forex trade with the world GDP ($29.2 trillion in 1998), it is more than ten times the world GDP. Hence, the forex market is much bigger than all the other markets put together. These comparative statistics bring out the fact that forex trading has gained a life of its own. As the value of global foreign exchange trade is many times more than the value of annual world trade and output, much of global finance capital is moving in search of quick profits from speculative activities rather than contributing to the real economy. These statistics also reveal that speculation makes up by far the largest proportion of trading in the forex market.

The global financial system is the world’s biggest casino where every day, trillions of dollars move in search of profit making opportunities from speculative investments. These flows are largely liquid and are attracted by short-term speculative gains, and can leave the country as quickly as they come. It has been calculated that over 80 per cent of spot forex turnover have a maturity of less than seven days. Commercial and merchant banks, in addition to hedge funds, carry out most of the arbitrage and speculative dealing in foreign exchange and money markets.

Although not much attention has been paid, the globalization of finance can give rise to serious social, economic and political problems. According to Phil Cerny, the global finance capital "calls the tune for the real economy." There are several ways in which the domination of finance capital negatively affects the real economy. Firstly, by providing economic incentives to gamble and speculate on financial instruments, the global finance capital diverts funds from long-term productive investments. According to Susan Strange, the real economy of manufacturing, services like entertainment, tourism, transport, mining, farming and retailing — all of it dances to the fast or slow rhythms of financial markets. Secondly, it encourages banks and financial institutions to maintain a regime of higher real interest rates which significantly reduces the ability of productive industries and enterprises in terms of access to credit. Thirdly, finance capital (because of its speculative nature) brings uncertainty and volatility in interest and exchange rates. This volatility is extremely harmful to various sectors of the real economy, particularly trade. Lastly, it seriously undermines efforts by governments to support full employment and reduce inequality.

The world of offshore financial centers (which are also popularly known as ‘tax havens’) display the characteristic elements of ‘casino capitalism.’ There is hardly any region in the world that does not have any offshore financial center. In total, there are over 69 offshore financial centers in the world and the funds routed through these centers are huge. A large number of hedge funds, trust companies, shell companies and brokerage houses are located in offshore centers. Central to financial liberalization, these centers originated primarily for avoiding foreign exchange and capital controls. Closely linked with corruption and crime, these centers are the natural destination of ‘dirty money.’ Often used for money laundering purposes, the offshore financial centers act as a tool to launder not only the proceeds of drug trafficking and other crimes but also aid and abet certain kinds of financial crime. The BCCI scandal is one of the glaring examples of this phenomenon that shook the world’s markets in the early 1990s.

In a similar vein, the global hedge fund industry has witnessed tremendous growth in the past decade. The total number of hedge funds operating worldwide is estimated to be 5500, with $300 billion of funds under management, as of mid-1998. A substantial number of hedge funds operate from offshore financial centers.

The recent trends and developments in global financial flows, as discussed above, corroborate the fact that international economy has moved away from productive pursuits to those of finance. That is why, many analysts have described this phenomenon as ‘casino capitalism.’ In fact, it is ‘casino capitalism’ that very often perpetuates economic disasters thereby adversely affecting the lives of millions of ordinary people who have put their savings and assets at its disposal. Even those who are not part of ‘casino capitalism’ (e.g., poor people, workers, small traders, etc.) cannot escape from its machinations as witnessed in the wake of the Mexican and the Southeast Asian financial crises. I have no problem (except for moral and ethical considerations) if rich people of Thailand, Korea, Indonesia go to casino and play with their money. But I have serious problems if ordinary people of these countries who have never played in an ordinary casino or financial casino are forced to pay the price for it. Ordinary and poor people of Thailand, Korea and Indonesia were never asked whether they would like to play with their jobs, savings and income. In fact, not only their human rights but also the economic and social rights of their future generations are being violated by financial globalization. Unfortunately, it is only these sections of society, which are the real victims of casino capitalism while international speculators and their domestic counterparts are adequately skilled and resourceful enough to know when to make a killing and how to escape from economic debacle.

In the words of Susan Strange, "for the great difference between an ordinary casino which you can go into or stay away from, and the global casino of high finance, is that in the latter we are all involuntarily engaged in the day’s play. A currency change can halve the value of a farmer’s crop before he harvests it, or drive an exporter out of business. A rise in interest rates can fatally inflate the costs of holding stocks for the shopkeeper. A takeover dictated by financial considerations can rob the factory worker of his job. From school-leavers to pensioners, what goes on in the casino in the office blocks of the big financial centers is apt to have sudden, unpredictable and unavoidable consequences for individual lives. The financial casino has everyone playing the game of Snakes and Ladders."

Quite often a case is made that only open and liberalized economies can promote democracy. Under the new global setting, democracy is the buzzword. Democracy has been narrowly defined in terms of electoral democracy (i.e. the right to vote). It has nothing to do with democratization or the democratic rights of majority of people such as the right to livelihood, the right to work and the right to food.

Thus, we find a fundamental shift from earlier US foreign policy of supporting dictators to promotion of democracy. Since the specter of communism has receded, the US administration is no longer promoting dictators. As people belonging to diverse political affiliations (from extreme left to extreme right) can join hands to oust dictators and thereby can cause reversals in economic policies (which may hurt the interest of international capital), the dictators are out of fashion nowadays. The classic example of this trend can be seen in Indonesia. The US administration and the international capital supported Suharto in Indonesia for many decades. He was used as an instrument to contain communism just a few decades ago. But last year, he became a burden. Similar trends have also been witnessed in the Philippines, Korea and Pakistan. Under formal democracy, there is no visible threat to elite-based economic and political system. Dictatorships are easy to fight because you know who is your enemy, the enemy is physically visible. But under formal democracy you do not know who is your real enemy and the fight becomes complicated. Many of my friends in Korea and Philippines have shared with me this problem. Thus, the point I wish to make is that globalization is not the solution but part of the problem in restoring genuine democracy and human rights.

The Asian Crisis and Search for Alternatives

Not long ago, the collapse of communism and triumph of global capitalism was described by thinker Francis Fukuyama as the "end of history." In the absence of any countervailing force at the global level, the Washington Consensus, consisting of twin elements — deregulation of economies and globalization of markets — had become the order of the day in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since these policies were fully endorsed by the IMF, World Bank and the G-7 countries, a large number of countries, willingly or unwillingly, adopted free-market policies ostensibly to benefit from the unrestricted cross-border capital mobility. Although critics had warned about the dangerous consequences of following such policies, at the decision-making levels, however, there was hardly any opposition to the tenets of Washington Consensus.

But, now it appears that the Washington Consensus has been breached. The Southeast Asian currency crisis and the near collapse of a multi-billion US-based hedge fund, the Long-Term Capital Management, have turned the tide against the free-market financial system. Increasingly, it is admitted that if the international financial system is not regulated, we will continue to witness financial crises. Even the champions of the free-market economic policies, particularly the IMF, World Bank and the G-7 countries, are now acknowledging the need and effectiveness of capital controls and state intervention.

In the wake of the Asian crisis, the policy measures announced by Malaysia, Hong Kong and other developing countries, in August-September 1998, have seriously challenged the undisputed ideology of the free-market global capitalism. Perhaps, for the first time, the supremacy of markets has been questioned in a significant manner by the developing world especially after the end of the Cold War period.

Recently, some Asian governments have either announced capital controls or are showing keen interest towards imposition of capital controls in the near future, in an attempt to overcome the crisis. On September 1, 1998, Malaysia imposed new controls (both on capital account and foreign exchange) while for two weeks in the month of August, Hong Kong authorities intervened in the stock markets to fight the speculators. Since foreign exchange controls in Hong Kong are banned under the post-handover Constitution, the authorities spent an estimated $15 billion to protect its financial markets from the growing attacks from speculators.

It is a striking coincidence that these events took place when Russia was passing through financial and political turmoil. Russia not only refused to pay some of its foreign debts, but it is also considering to revert to a state-led economy with fixed exchange rates and other control measures. Furthermore, Ukraine suspended trading in its money, and Singapore drafted tough measures against stock-market manipulation. Taiwan has put a ban on any trading of funds managed by US financier George Soros after local dealers blamed those funds for the local stock market’s recent plunges. Some Latin American governments have already put restrictions to cool down the "hot money" flows while many other countries are inclined towards implementing controls and other policy mechanisms to address the problems arising from the globalization of finance.

For many years, a number of progressive intellectuals and economists have been advocating a complete restructuring of the unregulated international financial system. However, their concerns and alternative proposals for building a more transparent and accountable global financial system were, quite often, dismissed by proponents of free capital movement as ideologically driven, biased, and non-pragmatic. It has often been argued that since there are no effective policy mechanisms to regulate capital flows, market should be allowed to control itself through self-discipline instead of direct regulatory intervention. But, it is based on the flawed assumption that the market is the best mechanism to determine how money should be invested; if capital is allowed to move freely, market will reward countries that pursue sound economic policies and pressurize the rest to do the same. But recent financial crises in several liberalized countries have demolished this myth. Countries that were following market-friendly policies were, in fact, pushed to the brink by the very same market forces. History also shows that market has miserably failed to control its own functioning, while the cost of market failure has generally been borne by society.

Since the restructuring of global financial system is not an easy task as the main obstacles to regulate the global financial flows are political (not technical), no meaningful restructuring is possible without strong political support. Perhaps, more political will is expected from the G-7 countries that account for majority of transborder financial flows.

Given the way in which financial globalization is taking place, especially in the early 1990s, it is doubtful whether a particular country or institution alone can address all the problems. This point needs to be emphasized as it became quite evident in the ongoing Southeast Asian currency crisis. Therefore, there is a need to evolve a combination of policy mechanisms to address the issues emerging from the globalization of finance at national, regional and international levels simultaneously. In the present global economic and political context, regulating the operations of global finance is not an easy task. But the alternative option of totally market-based remedies is not working and their impact had been catastrophic.

The experience garnered from developmental policies in the Asian region in the past few decades can serve as a focal point for building new alternatives to globalization. For instance, the globalization process should be altered in such a manner that it provides adequate space and strength to individual countries to design appropriate domestic economic policies (such as monetary policy) as well as to enhance the level of their participation in the global economy. Further, there is a need for fundamental reorientation of the domestic economies with selective linkages with the globalization processes. The domestic economic system should be modified to serve the needs of the real economy and particularly those sections of society who have been marginalized by both the state and the market forces. Though the role of foreign investment cannot be negated, growth must emanate primarily from domestic savings and investment. A progressive direct taxation system has the ability to enhance domestic financial resources. Rather than focusing on export-led growth, domestic markets should act as the prime engines of growth. Besides, the principle of equity must be on top of the agenda of nation-states.

Furthermore, an alternative approach that puts restraints on the global finance capital through the use of capital controls should be high on the agenda of nation-states. A selective delinking from fly-by-night financiers and ‘hot money’ flows is not only desirable but also feasible. Countries should strongly resist temptations to set up arrangements such as the Bangkok International Banking Facility (BIBF) and offshore financial centers. In addition, countries will have to take precautionary measures to strengthen their domestic financial system and closely supervise external debt position, especially the short-term debt. In my forthcoming book, Taming Global Financial Flows, I have enunciated a set of guiding principles along with nine steps to sustain a stable global financial system.

Three Points for Further Debate

n We need to redefine and debate our relationship with the nation-state. There is no doubt that in most countries of the region, the role of the nation-state has been highly undemocratic, repressive, anti-people which subserves the interest of a small section of ruling elites. There is no doubt that the nation-state is under attack from globalization processes, but the moot question is — should we join hands with the forces of globalization to dismantle the nation-state or should we make it more democratic and accountable to serve people at large?

Another issue is linked with this debate. While globalization is destroying the nation-state from above, the welfare functions of nation-state is also under attack from below under the guise of decentralization, welfare oriented NGOs, self-help groups, micro-credit programs, etc. These forces are supposed to provide a human face to the globalization process. The recent experience shows that these forces have accompanied the process of globalization. We have to closely examine this trend in our own countries so as to develop a critical perspective on this issue.

n Secondly, the backlash against globalization is increasing in various parts of the world because it has failed to remove poverty, hunger and unemployment. Unfortunately, the backlash against globalization policies often takes the shape of tribal conflicts, ethnic conflicts, religious conflicts, etc. It puts people against people, tribe against tribe, one religious community against another and so on and so forth. On the one hand, globalization is making national borders irrelevant while the ‘tribalism’ or ‘jehad’ (the term is not being used in a religious context) is creating new boundaries and fragmenting countries into smaller units. The recent ethnic conflicts in Indonesia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan are examples of this trend. In India and Sri Lanka, these tendencies are becoming more and more visible.

Although both the trends may appear contradictory, yet they have many similarities. Both the forces are at work in the same country. Both the forces are undemocratic and unaccountable, both of them are against the spirit of public interest, social justice, human rights and equality. No one views people as citizens; globalization views citizens as consumers while tribalism strengthens tribe or religion or race. Unfortunately, often we are compelled to choose between these two tendencies. Those of us who believe in secular and democratic politics will have to decide and redefine our relationship with such forces.

n Lastly, financial globalization poses new challenges to trade unions and social movements. We need new tools of analysis and new campaign strategies to deal with it. Earlier strategies of campaigning against the global forces such as the WTO, the World Bank, the ADB and foreign direct investment or local vested interests such as landlords, bureaucracy and political interests is unlikely to be successful in the case of finance capital. Similar is the case with our earlier strategies of fighting against the nation-state.

Some Suggestions

n Since the eruption of the Asian crisis, globalization is in serious crisis. A number of alternatives to globalization are being worked out in many parts of the world. Despite the fact that the restructuring of the global financial architecture is the key motif of the ongoing international debates, people’s movements, NGOs and labor organizations in the developing and the developed countries are yet to respond — effectively and critically — to the issues emerging from globalization of finance. We should work out alternatives to globalization from our own perspectives, experiences and values. As global financial issues affect the lives and livelihoods of vast majority of people, these cannot be left in the hands of rich financiers, international financial institutions and central bankers. There is a need to broaden the debates on global financial issues by seeking participation of people and their representative institutions (e.g., trade unions and peoples’ movements).

n To seriously challenge the process of globalization, we need to understand the working and operations of globalization. For instance, who are the main players (TNCs and fund managers), how do they operate and which are the economic and political forces supporting them. In this regard, we need the help of experts as issues emanating from globalization are very complex and are changing rapidly.

n No doubt that a generalized fight against globalization seems to be difficult but by no means impossible provided there is political will and mass mobilization of people in both the developing and the developed countries. We should mobilize people in the streets, towns and villages on this issue. In order to democratize these issues, popular media in the form of booklets, leaflets, posters, plays, audio, video, etc. could also be used.

n The fight against globalization is not an easy task. There are strong political and economic forces supporting globalization at both international and domestic levels. For instance, in the case of India, we find that globalization process has a strong social base consisting of three main elements:

  • Big business houses (they are ready to become junior partners if they are given capital and technology by TNCs).

  • Big farmers lobby (they are looking for new technologies and better prices for their products at international markets).

  • Upper-middle and middle classes (as they identify globalization with jobs with high wages, better quality consumer goods and services).

n Lastly, the fight against globalization cannot be fought exclusively. No one single NGO, peasant organization, trade union, peoples’ movement, political party can fight this process. Efforts should be made to collaborate with all other like-minded groups (trade unions, peasant organizations, students, etc.) for launching a counter-hegemonic movement. Further, the struggle against globalization cannot be fought only at local or national levels, we must join hands with like-minded groups at international levels as well. Although the arena of struggles may remain national, we should share information and build linkages with international groups. If capital can go global, our campaigns and struggles must also adopt a global stance.