Doing business and mitigating risks in an uncertain globalized world

” Built around focused research and analysis work, close-door workshops and conferences, the Political Economy Circle aims at giving business owners and economic decision-makers an opportunity to discuss globalisation and Asia-Pacific developments in a pragmatic way, with experts, lawyers and financiers, so as to build economic and political intelligence and facilitate thought leadership.

Not more, not less! “

Vision Statement  – By Dr Antoine P. Martin and Mr Philippe Bonnet, Founders

Hong Kong, Summer 2016

Today’s world is complex. When it comes to doing business, in fact, today’s world is extremely complex. Countries have become interconnected, markets have become interdependent, industries are changing, and the global growth paradigm is progressively shifting from global trade in goods to regional trade in services… Trends are becoming more and more difficult to identify and, all in all, connecting the dots in order to making sound business decisions is now more than ever before a constant challenge.

Doing business and mitigating risks in an uncertain globalized world

Still, doing business today requires navigation tools, which necessarily includes the ability to anticipate – as much as possible – how markets and trends will evolve or react to unforeseen circumstances. For instance… while the BRICs were presented as the miraculous economic growth Eldorado’s ten years ago, very few anticipated that Brazil would be in difficulty more than a decade later while the idea that China’s export-led growth would lower and become a source of concern for the world economy’s was even less considered. More recently, who would have guessed that multilateral trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would eventually be endangered by democratic deficits and anti-globalization concerns? And, of course, how many business decision-makers predicted that the Brexit would result in a currency fall leading to prices raising, or in the Bank of England eventually having difficulties rising funds on global capital markets? Not to mention the Trump presidential adventure…

Because of all these permanent and never-ending difficulties, doing business globally is an increasingly complex and risky – yet crucial – activity which requires apprehending, understanding and processing the various evolutions of today’s world and global political economy. Doing this, in turn, implies being able to identify trends and connect the dots so as to prepare most probable scenari and mitigate political, economic and regulatory risks. And the Political Economy Circle is about doing just that.

Following the tracks of the Political Economy Club

Of course, the Political Economy Circle makes an obvious reference to the famous Political Economy Club  which was founded in 1821 around economists, financiers  and politicians such as David Ricardo, Thomas Tooke or Robert Malthus, James Mill and Robert Torrens. At the time, these influent personalities focused on various issues related to gold standard monetary policies and free trade doctrines so as to influence policymaking within the British society and Parliament. Debates with the Club related to very contemporary issues such as commodity surplus and value, factors influencing the demand of labour, discussions on wealth and capital, factors influencing currency and money value from one country to another, foreign exchange and cross-border trade. Years later in 1909, one might add, another Political Economy Club was furthermore founded by the notorious John Maynard Keynes to hold similar discussions in Cambridge, on a much more confidential basis.

These topics were not necessarily new. Before the creation of the Political Economy Club, Adam Smith already discussed free trade ideologies during industrial revolution period in The Wealth of Nations (An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776) by considering the relationship between prosperity, productivity and the timely equivalent of cross-border competition and capabilities, thus breaking through the then applicable Mercantilist theories in place and under which trade was a matter of state influence, interventionism and domination over other nations.

In the years 2020, however, forums in the line with the Political Economy Club still have a role to play. Of course, doctrines have evolved. Some decades ago political commentators discussed the Cold War era with the conviction that international relations and policymaking were about building an Hobbesian world built on self-interest, power as well as a certain dose of anarchy. Nowadays, international policymaking is about liberalization, inter-related economies and foreign investment promotion. Still, liberalism is changing with countries rejecting its constraining powers and free trade, despite being the model, is increasingly questioned. A very significant evolution.

Shifting from Political Economy Club to Political Economy Circle

All in all, the above suggests that questions such as “do the low prices of exportable commodities … arise from or domestic competition” or “is there a valid apology for the American Tariff” which were originally discussed within the Political Economy Club as early as March 6th, 1834 remain both contemporary, relevant and unsolved.

This suggests, in addition, that many debates and discussions on how global the world has become remain to be held, and the Political Economy Circle intends to become a forum for having such interactions and creating economic and political intelligence.

Obviously, the Circle does not pretend to do better than the Club. Such a statement would not only be foolish and pretentious, it would simply be irrelevant. The Circle aims at pursuing the démarche, by focusing on modern problematics and factors or change, and by broadening the reach of discussions by opening them to a wider range of discussants.

Built around focused research and analysis work, close-door workshops and conferences, the Political Economy Circle aims at giving business owners and decision-makers an opportunity to discuss globalization with experts, lawyers and financiers, so as to build economic and political intelligence and facilitate thought leadership.

Not more, not less!

Vision Statement  – By Dr Antoine P. Martin and Mr Philippe Bonnet, Founders

Hong Kong, Summer 2016

The political economy circle

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