Spoiler: A lot of people cried wolf at the outbreak of the Corona crisis. Media reports of shortages of medical goods led to demands for increased production inside the EU of such goods. These demands came at the same time as some countries closed their borders and prevented exports of medical goods to other countries.
But these demands have been proven wrong. Most medical goods were produced within the EU, and trade with medical goods increased dramatically during the crisis eliminating the shortages. This and earlier experience from trading with the rest of the world show that decreased globalisation and specialisation will give us fewer resources and make us less resilient when future pandemics occur.
The export restrictions were counterproductive. The correct policies for combatting pandemics are trade-facilitating. Lowering tariffs and reducing the number of Non-Tariff Trade Barriers are obvious policies. In fact, decision makers across the world have realised this and have now introduced trade-facilitating measures for covid-19 goods that cover more trade than the trade-restrictive measures that were initially introduced. The correct policies within the EU is of course to make sure that the functioning of the Single Market is not harmed by trigger-happy politicians.
Spoiler: United Nations is becoming less and less relevant for each passing year. Russia is regularly abusing its veto rights in the Security Council which paves the way for war crimes and violations in human rights. By adding insult to injury, the Human Rights Council, (UNHCR), will next year include a member whose regime is committing genocide: China. Only half of the members in the UNHCR are democracies. The other half regularly violates its peoples’ civil rights.
While Rule of Law and Freedom of Speech are more or less absent in many UNHCR member states, Regime Corruption is pervasive. Are these countries really committed to uphold human rights? No, of course not. Many countries commit themselves to violate human rights. The UNHCR is a joke. A very bad joke.
Spoiler: USA has changed from being exceptional in a good way to being exceptional in a bad way. The dynamism of US product markets has decreased. It shows up in lower firm growth, higher concentration and weaker competition. This has led to increased inequality, lower investments, innovation, and productivity growth. At the same time, horrible things are happening with parts of the population. Life expectancy rates are declining because people are dying from suicide and drug abuse. Since this is happening mainly to people with low education and incomes, inequality in health is increasing.
To reverse the developments, the political system needs to be more transparent and less sensitive to rent seeking by large enterprises. But unless the Trumpian tendency to autocracy is reversed, it will be difficult to make the necessary changes.
Spoiler: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia granted to take the place of the Soviet Union as a permanent member of the United Nations’ Security Council. That was a mistake. The position has mostly been used to block investigations into human rights violations, Russian occupations of other countries’ territories, protect pariah regimes and block UN aid to refugees.
After Putin came to power, Russia has used its veto to prevent the UN to act against regimes who violate human rights and even persecute their own populations. The first vetoes blocked UN actions against the regimes in Myanmar and Zimbabwe. These vetoes were not based on any considerations of what was going on in the two countries. They were supporting China’s vetoes. The Chinese regime was not interested in having UN missions in countries where China had invested.