War means industry. Wars cannot be fought with supply chains that crisscross a globalized world, where production happens on faraway, little islands in the South China Sea, from where chips can be transported only if airspaces and straits remain open.
Global supply chains work only in peacetime, but not when the world is at war, be it a hot war or an economic war. The low inflation world had three pillars: cheap immigrant labor keeping nominal wage growth “stagnant” in the U.S., cheap Chinese goods raising real wages amid stagnant nominal wages, and cheap Russian natural gas fueling German industry and Europe more broadly. Implicit in this “trinity” were two giant geo-strategic and geo-economic blocks: Niall Ferguson called the first one “Chimerica”. I will call the other one “Eurussia”.
Both unions were a “heavenly match”: the EU paid euros for cheap Russian gas, the U.S. paid U.S. dollars for cheap Chinese imports, and Russia and China dutifully recycled their earnings into G7 claims. All sides were entangled commercially as well as financially, and as the old wisdom goes, if we trade, everyone benefits and so we won’t fight. But like in any marriage, that’s true only if there is harmony. Harmony is built on trust, and occasional disagreements can only be resolved peacefully provided there is trust.