When the wealthiest country in the world is unable to produce basic medical gear to cope with a rampaging pandemic, it is dealing with a strategic vulnerability by depending on multinational supply chains to produce manufactured goods. Absent sufficient redundancies and physical reserves of resources, “just in time” lean supply systems can’t cope with sudden disruptions. The global pandemic of 2020 is a case in point.

This pandemic continues to unfold, but it will serve as the D-Day equivalent of a new predominating economic model for the world, and which in many ways was beginning to take shape before Covid-19. At its core, developed and mixed-market economies will factor in the health risk and growing military cost of sustaining international supply chains against investing in high-tech production closer to their markets, and increasingly export their goods to the rest of the world.

Dozens of economies that developed in the past 50 years by enmeshing themselves in the international supply chain on the basis of their labor price advantage will find themselves increasingly cut out of the new process. The contest for global power will increasingly pivot to the extraction and refinement of minerals and component materials that are critical to sustaining the high-tech economy model, away from carbon energy resources. We will be hearing much more about “national stockpiling” and “strategic reserves” beyond oil in the months and years ahead.

Not only has Covid-19 exposed potential health risks and costs involved (as globalized trade routes become vectors of contagion), but the champions of the offshoring phenomenon increasingly resort to myths and misconceptions that are irrelevant to a 21st-century economy. They are as obsolete as spending trillions annually on managing the supply and price of Middle East oil, which American foreign-policy figures, including Martin Indyk, are openly beginning to say “isn’t worth it.”



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