The conventional wisdom of today says we cant shape the future, that we dont have choices, that there is only one path defined by the following "laws": First, that we live in a new eraand thus old rules and models no longer apply. Second, that the new rules are these: Ours is a global economy, governed by a competitive logic that constantly seeks out lower and lower production costs. Those cost savings lie in utilizing Third World labor and in being the company that dominates a given global industry with the most efficient production and distribution system possible.
But this corporate race for domination has perversely created a new, civilian version of the wasteful "arms race" situation of the old Cold War. Now, instead of the United States and the USSR overbuilding bombers, tanks, and nuclear submarines, General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagento pick one indicative industryare in a modern arms race of plant-building and car production around the world that has already created a glut of excess global capacity equal to the entire U.S. market for new vehicles.
Moreover, this excess capacity in vehicles is true as well in dozens of other key industriesfrom chemicals to microchips, from TV sets to home appliances, from athletic shoes to heavy construction equipment, from aluminum to childrens toys.
This dense global tendency toward overcapacityand the need for deep pockets and powerful sales networks to dominate an industry and thereby shift overcapacity onto the other guys shoulderslies at the heart of the second feature of the present and next two or three decades, as we can expect to see a system of globally linked oligopolies emerge to dominate global markets.