In a speech for the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) at the London Stock Exchange today , Lord Mandelson said:
"When I returned to national government from Brussels in the autumn of 2008, I did so, in certain respects, a changed man.
I am not talking of the changes in my inner self - for that you can read The Third Man - but in my political outlook.
As Europe's Trade Commissioner, I had seen life at the sharp end of globalisation and the very complex politics of its transmission belt, international trade. The challenge to how we live and work in the West and also how globalisation is transforming life in the rest of the world.
At one level, I found these changes both exhilarating and positive. I'd seen enough third world poverty as a young man in Tanzania and elsewhere to feel that the forces lifting and pulling people out of the grinding poverty of agricultural self-sufficiency were not a bad thing.
No one I met in China, or Vietnam, or India, or Mauritius or Botswana was in a hurry to go back. And it seemed to me then and it seems to me now sentimental and patronising to suggest they might want to temper or reverse their progressive integration into the global economy.
Stand back far enough from globalisation and what you see is its relentless ability to deploy capital - that is, invest in the growth potential of developing and emerging economies - more and more efficiently.
And of course in doing this, globalisation was driving trade and innovation and pushing down the costs of most of what people here or anywhere else needed or wanted. Be it the basics of food and clothing, or the luxuries of cars and computers.
But I also saw the unease globalisation was creating. Unease because of the voracious appetite for energy and other natural resources and the implications for stability that flowed from the global race for these things.
Unease because everywhere that societies were being transformed by this process, as well as immense benefits, there were social costs and upheaval, and countries have very different resources available to them to manage this impact.
Modern economic life seemed to me to be characterised pretty simply: new opportunity for many, new uncertainty for most.
And I started to recognise the deep causes of a lot of what I had seen as an MP for Hartlepool for thirteen years.
I saw the nature of the forces that make it simply economically untenable to rely on a certain kind of job, doing a certain kind of work, in the North East of England in the second decade of the twenty first century.
A kind of job or work that was perfectly viable just a generation ago.
And it is hardly surprising that from that vantage point many in the West see globalisation not as an economic question of comparative advantage, and rational capital deployment and all the rest of it, what you might call the Davos view of globalisation.
They see it as a zero sum game in which jobs and opportunities in the fast developing world are created at the expense of our own employment and standard of living.
And even if this is to ignore so much of what is good about globalisation, the reality is of course that the new playing field it has created is far from fair and even.
Because it seemed to me that there were two very different globalisations: the economic version, the "seen from 10,000 feet" version, of new opportunity and aggregate growth.
And a more personal and individual one, in which jobs are being lost and real wages stagnating and from which only a relatively small elite seem insulated.
But this is not the only contrast - within - countries that struck me about globalisation. Another is that between countries and the very different types of economy and different economic rules that prevail in the world.
Simply boiled down - while being cautious of over- simplification - the distinction between liberal economies that are open and democratic in the main, and others that are more centralised and protected by the State, with or without fully democratic political systems.
On one hand the liberal economic narrative, in which free trade and liberal economics are driving innovation. And the more ambiguous reality, in which some states play by the liberal rules of free economic competition when it suits them, and the rest of the time distort the costs of capital, protect and subsidise industry and operate quite often opaque systems of regulation.
I am not, here, suggesting that there is a right course and a wrong course and that we in the liberal, democratic West are on the side of virtuousness while everyone else is a sinner.
Economics is a lot more complicated than that, as is politics: the tensions among the faster growing emerging economies are just as great, if not more so, than between developing and developed countries. Just observe the mounting strains in the trade relations and currency arguments between China and Brazil, or India, that bear witness to this cross-cutting political web.
As competition grows more intense in the global economy, each country is reaching for any tool to help them gain advantage in others' markets while protecting their own.
Just in the last week we have seen Russia set up a sovereign wealth fund so that the State can partner - i.e. subsidise - inward private equity investment. We've seen Brazil announce new restrictions on foreign ownership of agricultural land - despite the fact that this investment has been an important driver of productivity over recent years.
In China, further rules governing "national security" will make approval of inward investments even more uncertain than before, at a time when China is seeking a major increase in international access for its own outgoing investment.
India maintains an unpredictable system of approving, regulating and taxing inward foreign investors.
But in the developed world, too, Australia has revised its takeover rules to prevent China buying up wholesale its natural resources. The US routinely screens inward investment on what it calls security grounds and there is renewed talk of Europe doing the same.
As Trade Commissioner and as Business Secretary I argued long and hard that we needed to reject many of the more direct and distorting market interventions of those countries we do business with.
Just because some countries choose to drop rocks in their harbours doesn't mean we will gain by following suit. Our open economies have given us incalculable benefits from competition and cheaper produced goods and services.
The experience of five centuries in the West tells us that governments are a distant second to competitive markets when it comes to building industrial strength. That's not a lesson we should be in a hurry to unlearn.
But that doesn't bring jobs back in the short term or solve the perception problem that we are losing out. It doesn't change the fact that our own workers feel that they are being asked to compete on unfair terms. The world, far from being flat, seems tilted against them as a result of the State capitalist model being adopted in certain fast-developing countries. And this is a state power, remember, which not only exposes the developed world to stiff competition but also tilts the world against many poorer, less competitive developing countries as well.
The financial crisis has added another layer of complexity and political reaction to this. Unregulated finance capital grew ahead of our ability to manage it and ultimately caused the crash. This seemed to exemplify for many the volatile and unaccountable power of global markets. And the extent to which our lives, our jobs, our pensions can end up as collateral damage in their periodic crises.
And while it is an understatement to say that it is a little more complicated than that, it still captures a very real political anxiety that things have somehow got beyond our control. That globalisation is something that is being done to us than for us, and that far from celebrating it, we all need protecting from it.
And in my own mind I started to see this as the defining problem for twenty first century politics in Britain and Europe, as well as in the US and the rest of the developed world.
Because this state of affairs is unsustainable. The huge and very real benefits of globalisation are being undermined by the distorting interventions of State capitalism from one direction, and by the anxious politics of an increasingly defensive and fearful developed world from the other. And let's be clear: it is the poorest countries which are likely to be squeezed most uncomfortably by any clash of interests and erosion of openness amongst the more developed countries. Instead, we need to support their ability to reach their own poverty reduction and development objectives. In time, this will help overcome global imbalances by raising aggregate global demand. African development is in our interests as well as theirs.
For all these reasons, we urgently need to focus on and improve the politics of globalisation. None of us can afford the downward spiral that is threatening us.
So the work the IPPR is launching today is both important and timely. Because its focus will be both on understanding these challenges and their consequences better, and on setting out strategies to address them.
We'll be gathering our evidence not just here in Britain and Europe, but around the world, from India, Brazil and China, on the globalisation frontline, as well as from less developed countries.
Old institutions, new life
Part of the problem with the politics of globalisation, is that we are in great danger of underestimating the institutions and the tools we have at our disposal to shape it and the kinds of public policy tools that explicitly aim to offer greater security to people adapting to rapid economic change.
Since the financial crisis broke in 2007/8, we have started to look afresh at the role played by the IMF and the World Bank.
It is easy to dismiss these international financial institutions as relics of the postwar Atlantic world and its related "Washington consensus" - in other words, built by the West to serve the West.
This is not a moment to enter into a long analysis of their achievements and failings. Let me make just three sets of observations.
First, when people complain about globalisation being tilted against them, they often point to growing trade imbalances as evidence of unfairness. This is understandable but trade imbalances are primarily a sign of macro-economic imbalances, of international differences in aggregate savings and investment, and in biases against domestic consumption over exports or the other way around.
These issues need to be addressed not through trade policy and protectionism but through macro-economic re-balancing. This needs to be the strong focus of the IMF. Its purpose is therefore not outdated but needed more than ever.
Second, in opening up to the benefits and forces of globalisation, countries can be vulnerable to unfair competition and unexpected surges in imports. This is why we not only have authorized trade defence instruments available for our use but in the case of the least developed countries they have additional flexibility - special and differential treatment - available to protect themselves.
But there are other international mechanisms, held by the World Bank, available to help these countries realize the benefits of market opening. We need to see the World Bank become not redundant but even more prominent in international efforts to help developing countries create the trade-related capacity - aid-for-trade, as I called it - such as skills and infrastructure, that are needed to expand their trade and withstand the adverse distributional impact that can flow from globalisation.
Even so, while doing an essential job, these international institutions hardly provide the advance in 21st century global governance that the world clearly needs.
In April 2009, as recession threatened to turn to depression following the banking crisis, the world looked to the G20, meeting in London with the British Prime Minister in the chair, for international leadership.
Again, this is not the time to go into the merits and demerits of the G20 suffice to say this: we certainly need such a steering committee to guide the global economy and the G20 is manifestly better suited in its membership to play this role than the G8.
But as the crisis abated, let's face it, so did the G20.
It fast came to embody not so much the driving force of reform and recovery the world needed but the fast-fading ambitions of those who admired Britain's leadership at the height of the crisis and are sorry it hasn't been followed up.
It is particularly galling that the new British government itself seems largely indifferent to the more ambitious role the G20 should play.
Without some sort of central focus, a physical presence and an energizing secretariat, it is hard to see how the G20 can deploy the drive needed from it. It is very hard, for instance, to see how much-needed global rules in the operation of financial markets and institutions, including the thorny issue of remuneration, can be achieved without the G20 securing the necessary international agreement and implementation.
Progress over international currency revaluation also seems a distant prospect without the G20 brokering some sort of agreement. The currency issues of surplus countries such as China, Japan and the oil exporters is well documented. In the case of China, the most contentious, I suspect that its currency and trade imbalance will unwind on its own as China allows appreciation and moves to boost domestic demand. But there are equal concerns of emerging markets that quantitative easing in the US will export inflation to their countries.
China is also concerned that American QE risks diluting their enormous stock of Treasury bills. It is little surprise that Japan followed the US with its own bout of QE but rather than every country seeking to devalue their way to competitiveness, domestic supply-side reforms are needed to boost productivity while emerging markets - and particularly China - must continue the creation of domestic welfare states which will help reduce their high savings rates and create new domestic demand.
Since Brazil, India and China will only engage with these issues through the G20 it is, again, a great shame that the momentum has gone out of the international efforts to which the last Labour government contributed so much.
Reviving the G20's impetus and strengthening its organisation needs to be our goal. Why not locate a G20 secretariat in Turkey - at the crossroads of East and West, North and South and an emblem of successful globalisation in developed and developing countries alike?
But, equally, it makes sense to beef up the role and the rules operated by the World Trade Organisation in our efforts to achieve a better balanced globalisation.
Can the WTO help achieve a better balanced globalisation?
My time as EU Trade Commissioner convinced me we could be doing a lot more to leverage the power of the WTO in preventing a resurgence of protectionism and reducing the distorting effects of state capitalism, and in imposing social democratic outcomes on globalisation.
We need the WTO to help raise the bar of openness in the global economy so as to generate growth and reduce poverty.
Yet in all the debate about global economic governance since the banking crisis of 2008, the issue of an expanded role for the World Trade Organisation has been strangely neglected despite the fact that the WTO is the only global organisation operating in the economic sphere which sets multilateral binding rules with a disputes mechanism for settling conflicts.
It has long shown a willingness to open its doors to the voices of poor developing and the emerging economic powers. In the past three years, it has played a crucial role in preventing a repeat of the collapse of the 1930s.
Building up the WTO makes particular sense for Europe. It is a multilateral, rules-based institution, and one with real teeth when it enforces its rules which are, in turn, driven by its over 150-strong international membership base. It is a forum, therefore, that is well-suited to the exercise by Europe of our combined, collective strength which may not be to the taste of the current British government but, nonetheless, is an area where Britain should be arguing for more not less pooled sovereignty.
It is not difficult to think of a practical agenda for WTO reform. A faster disputes mechanism. Taking forward the WTO's role in handling trade issues concerning intellectual property and access to services - of central concern to American and European trading relationships with Asia. Stronger multilateral oversight of the use of trade defence instruments - a major issue for the emerging economic powers in their trade with the US and also the EU.
We should ask how we might use the WTO to shape a deal that tackles industrial subsidies in the form of differentiated prices for raw materials. Or discounted financing through the State banking sector and other vestiges of excessive State capitalism.
These issues, linked to the cost of capital, are much more important, with respect to China, than the issue of the cost of labour, which is rising as China ages and gets richer.
Realpolitik may say that this chipping away at the prerogatives of State capitalism will never happen. But I am not so sure.
States have surrendered more sovereignty to the WTO and the GATT over the last fifty years than to any other institution or system, possibly with the exception of our own Eurozone and creation of the single currency.
They do it because they calculate that it is better to have a common set of rules for trade, binding on all, even if that limits them as well as others.
But the governance of the trading system can go further than that.
With signs of life possibly reappearing in the Doha Round of world trade talks this is a good moment to think about the kind of social democratic tests we can and should apply to this negotiation and to trade more generally.
First, we have to recognise that while bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) have been a positive force for opening trade in the global economy over the last two decades, they cannot do for trade opening and the application of global rules what multilateral agreements can achieve across the world.
If we are serious about addressing the way the rich world subsidises its farmers, or creating disciplines on state aid, we can only do this multilaterally.
Multilateral negotiation inherently protects the poorer better than head to head negotiations between large trading blocks, not least because the interests of weaker states are explicitly on the multilateral table, and subject to their veto.
Bilateral agreements are politically easier, but they can draw energy and momentum out of the wider multilateral processes.
The WTO should be given new powers to police the current proliferation of FTAs, ensure their depth and coherence with a wider push for transparent and fair trade opening.
Today, the WTO has little sway in this area and this has to change. It would be a tragedy if the most effective multilateral body in the globalised economy was overwhelmed by a careless bilateralism.
Our second key test should be to make sure that we are exacting a minimum ethical price for our openness.166 countries are signatories to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which guarantees "just and favourable" working conditions, the right of workers to form or join trade unions, and the right to strike.
While it is usually strongly resisted, notably by developing countries, and counterproductive to try and link trade agreements to new commitments in these areas, trade agreements can and should ensure that there is no back-sliding on previously agreed rights.
A third test must apply explicitly to the major developed as well as the large emerging economies that are reshaping the global economy. Commensurate with their trading strength, they should be willing to be 'first movers' in the removal of tariff barriers and subsidies. A real level playing field must not ignore the relative strength of the players. The EU and US in particular must be prepared to lead by example - to demonstrate not only that free trade is good for growth, but also that its consequences can be managed for the benefit of all. We need to have both the courage of our convictions that trade and openness are essential for growth, and the determination to build the domestic policy frameworks that will ensure that everyone, including the most vulnerable, can benefit
Fundamentally we have to get past the idea that the open trade agenda is a product of "the North", rejected or resisted by "the South". These labels have lost much of their meaning in a world in which China is the world's biggest exporter, and Brazil the biggest threat to many farm incomes in the Caribbean and West Africa.
This is where the solution to the Doha talks lies. In the acceptance of the need to differentiate inside the world trade system between developing countries.
Brazil is not Burkina Faso. China is not Chad. It's obvious enough, but the politics of trade still too often make little concession to this basic reality.
This logic of rights and responsibilities for these new players needs to carry beyond the WTO. Into new rights in the IMF, the UN, the G20. But also new responsibilities: not least on climate change as well as trade.
Addressing the anxious politics of the developed world
If our response to globalisation is to try and manage state capitalism through a stronger global system of economic governance, we also need to address public anxiety about globalisation in the West.
The best way of doing this is by strengthening the range and the competitiveness of our own productive base, defeating fear by turning it into confidence.
The answer here is not to imitate State capitalism, but neither is it to dismiss the role of the state out of hand in generating the creativity, innovation and re-invention needed to transform our economies in the West.
We will compete effectively in the global economy through specialization and by adding value to everything we do. We will not win by engaging in a race to the bottom. We will maintain our share of world markets by making what we produce more sophisticated and incorporating greater knowledge and new technological prowess at every stage.
In a word, we need to compete on quality rather than price. We already do so in the outstanding professional, business and legal services we supply to the rest of the world. We have brilliant creative industries. We also retain advanced manufacturing and engineering capability. But we need to extend and deepen our range further.
We should stop calculating trade in terms of export of finished goods. Production chains have become global, many products are now "made in the world" and a large part of international trade is trade in intermediate products.
We should bear this in mind when we complain about the trade deficit, for example, with China. Many of China's exports are assembled in China but contain considerable value added from the contributions to production made from other countries, including our own.
The components we provide may be small but will contain high intellectual property and be amongst those adding the greatest value. This is why, incidentally, intellectual property protection is so important for us. We live or die by our creativity. When that is stolen or destroyed, we lose the means of making a living and that's why we should be tough and uncompromising in insisting on copyright protection and proper royalties in everything we supply and produce. This does not mean, however, that we should not reform our own IP laws - as the Hargreaves Review is doing - to stimulate innovation while protecting intellectual property.
While maintaining our belief in enterprise and open markets, we need to think hard about how collective action, led by government, can equip us better for global competition.
Britain's place in the global economy reveals a £27bn export gap to the BRIC countries. While British exports to BRIC countries have increased rapidly in the last decade, they are still behind Britain's share of world trade.
If Britain increased its share of BRIC countries' imports from their current levels to 3.7% - our global average - it would be equivalent to £27bn. IPPR's work will seek to identify how to close this gap.
And, at a personal level, this is the second key respect in which a change occurred in me during my time outside Britain.
Exposure to continental European policy pushed me to rethink the responsibility government has for empowering those left vulnerable by the force of economic change.
Continental European political culture is much more comfortable with talking about the state and the role of the state than we are.
And while many Conservatives typically see that as bad by definition - and New Labour was also too often hands-off - I became a lot less sure.
In fact I have trouble conceiving of an intelligent response to globalisation that does not involve greater collective action.
One of the biggest misconceptions about globalisation is that it forces us to make a trade-off between collective action and social protection on one hand, and competitiveness on the other.
But it doesn't seem self evident to me at all that this is the case. Globalisation does not make strong levels of social protection untenable. In fact it makes them even more important.
We should also put globalisation in context. It is a powerful and ubiquitous trend. But it is neither the cause of everything bad nor good in our economies. Research by the Carnegie Institute in the States that has looked at wage stagnation in the US since the 70s stress the impacts of mechanization in many workplaces, along with their de-unionisation, and the significant upward redistribution of income through the tax system as much as globalisation.
In other words political choices are involved, and if there is one thing we should have taken away from the last few years it is that we should be suspicious of right wing political choices dressed up as inevitable economic truth.
The flexicurity models of Scandinavia - which enable workers to participate in the labour market more effectively and move confidently between jobs - have been effective in keeping unemployment levels low during this recession.
And the point of course is that where we are spending taxpayers' money to make sure that none of us ever risk life-destroying unemployment or ill health, we are actually hedging against the higher costs of long-term unemployment and economic inactivity.
We're equipping people to adapt and thrive, which is economically efficient.
No less importantly, a society that ignores preventative care and leaves individuals to cover the costs of healthcare or unemployment will be an insecure society, and insecure societies are one political step away from protectionism and isolationism.
Of course there are limits to any policy of redistribution. One of the key problems for the left has always been accepting that it is counterproductive to raise the share of pooled resources in a society to the point where individuals are disincentivised from enterprise or innovation. But we should at least have an intelligent conversation about the balance.
Because these pooled resources are going to be fundamental to our response to globalisation.
They will pay not just for the social security, but for the core of the education system, the public science base, the shared infrastructure, the capabilities we need to compete effectively.
Because free markets and rational individuals will not provide these for us on their own - at least not to the extent we need.
Labour's record in government
The "new activism" I initiated as Business Secretary is about building the capability of business and their workforces in areas and sectors of opportunity.
For instance, the transition to a low carbon energy and transport system is important to combat climate change, but it is also a business and economic opportunity. And sensible government policies have a contribution to make to helping business grasp those opportunities.
That is why we took initiatives on wave and tidal energy, composites, electric cars and the nuclear supply chain.
Similarly, as a country we need to do more to translate our excellence in generating knowledge into goods and services that meet public needs. And therefore we took the first steps to conceive and create a new national network of Technology Centres, an initiative, I notice, the coalition government has taken such pride in that they have re-announced it as their own!
Having in opposition attempted to caricature me as a cheque-book waving dirigiste Colbert, in government, with the lamentable and short-sighted exception of Sheffield Forgemasters, the coalition has done a volte face and proceeded with these investments.
Not only that, but I notice again it has been more than happy to take the credit for the positive results, including a big new wave of offshore energy investment directly linked to the incentives we put in place in the East Coast ports.
This activism complemented and reinforced the measures the last government took to reform and toughen the competition regime and foster enterprise. It is, I believe, an essential part of a more comprehensive strategy for responding to globalisation.
To put it crudely, in modernising social democracy in the 1990s, the deal we offered people was that government couldn't stop the escalator of industrial change and protect their current job, but we would help them to get the next one.
But for some in what Ed Miliband has rightly identified as the "squeezed middle" we didn't fully deliver on our side of the deal. We had an economy with a strong record on job creation. There was a significant expansion of higher paid jobs and the minimum wage set a new pay benchmark. But for some in the squeezed middle - especially in manufacturing and the regions reliant on it - the picture was more mixed.
The renewal of Labour's mission for the second decade of the 21st century has to be about a globalisation that clearly delivers benefits for the broad mass of the population.
And I think this argument has fresh urgency now, because across the West governments are retrenching hard under the pressure of sovereign debt and deficit reduction.
This is a necessary discipline that I accept. But in reshaping some of the scope and roles of the state, we will really need to understand what governments alone still need to do, both to equip people to live with rapid economic change, but also to make our economies innovative and dynamic.
The coalition government shows signs of falling into this trap. While I share Vince Cable's scepticism of an "all-encompassing plan" for growth, I don't believe this means that government should be doing nothing or that it is sufficient simply to implement the measures devised by the last Labour government. We need a fresh wave of activism alongside new measures on competition and enterprise.
For instance, the Green Investment Bank which seems to have got lost in the corridors of Whitehall needs to be ambitiously equipped with the means to make a significant delivery of new infrastructure.
The £1.4bn put aside for the Regional Growth Fund is just a third of the RDAs' recent budget and is many times over-subscribed. It is wholly inadequate to the task and the logic escapes me of focusing on dismantling the institutions of the RDAs rather than using them to back recovery.
Scrapping the Future Jobs Fund is the definition of short sighted policy making. The most devastating legacy of the 1980s and 1990s recessions for individuals was the terrible morphing of short-term unemployment into long-term state dependency. Nothing matters more than ensuring that that does not happen again.
I support the intention behind the current government's efforts to reform the welfare system to make work pay. It's right that we expect people to work if they can. But, for those of us on the centre-Left, their approach does not nearly match the scale of our ambitions nor the need for new thinking.
Conclusion: the centre left comes into its own?
In many respects the centre-left is best equipped to answer the kinds of questions I have raised today. It must be willing to do the difficult thinking about how you bring markets and government together, intelligently and strategically. How you balance free market theory with social democratic intervention.
How social confidence underwrites our economic success as well as competition and efficiency.
The left understands that competitive strength at the level of individual companies and people often starts with collective investment in shared goods like education, science and infrastructure.
At its best the left is internationalist by its nature. It believes in the potential of governance, and is willing to think clearly about the role of the EU in magnifying Britain's influence; and multilateralism in general not as the bogey of Tory nightmares, but as something that might help us assert some meaningful influence on processes that are bigger than our individual states.
When people are disempowered by globalisation the debate should be about how we take some of that power back, regardless of whether it is a Town Hall, Westminster or Brussels that does the taking.
The challenge for the left is one of balance.
Making sure that empowering government does not become stifling, unaccountable or monolithic government.
Making sure that pragmatism about markets does not become suspicion of markets in general. That a desire to see business behave ethically does not become suspicion of business and enterprise in principle.
Making sure that a politics of production committed to the power of intelligent government to develop the capacities of our people to do more than sink or swim does not become the instinct to direct industry, stifle competition, micro-manage companies or develop national champions.
And making sure that a necessary debate about the politics of redistribution does not overwhelm the tolerance of people to make individual contributions, or disincentivise the economic activity that provides the fiscal resources in the first place.
The questions I've raised today all pose some very hard questions for those of us in politics who believe passionately that globalisation and open markets can be the ally and not the enemy of social justice. What we're realising is that 'can be' is the crucial part of that equation.
To talk about re-thinking the future of globalisation may sound grandiose, but the centre left must show that it is up to this challenge. Ultimately, the work the ippr is launching today will provide a distinctive centre left analysis of the challenges faced by the UK.
With Britain barely emerging from recession, this is a timely moment to reconsider the role of free trade and open markets in delivering sustainable growth.
To do this now, as the consequences of the 2008-09 financial and economic crises are still unfolding requires big thinking. The case for globalisation needs to be re-made, but it also needs to be re-thought for a new economic and political era."