new left review 64
july aug 2010
peter nolan & jin zhang
GLOBAL COMPETITIONAFTER THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
hile the economies
, Europe and Japan arestill struggling to emerge from their post-2008 reces-sions, to date China has continued on its path of upwardgrowth, apparently undaunted by the global ﬁnancialcrisis. In 2009 the
overtook Germany to become the world’s larg-est exporter of goods, with 34 ﬁrms in the Fortune 500. The marketcapitalization of Chinese ﬁrms in the
500 was second only to thatof American ﬁrms, while in the banking sector, the top three positionswere occupied by Chinese institutions. Indeed, it has been suggestedthat the
has used the ﬁnancial crisis to embark on a buying spreeof western companies. In the autumn of 2009,
ran a cover storyunder the banner, ‘China Buys the World’, with the sub-heading: ‘TheChinese have $2 trillion and are going shopping. Is your company—andyour country—on their list?’
In fact, Chinese companies face enormous competitive challenges inoperating on the international stage. Contrary to the belief of mainstreameconomists that opening up developing economies would provide oppor-tunities for indigenous ﬁrms to catch up with those of high-incomecountries—a perspective epitomized by Thomas Friedman’s 2005
TheWorld is Flat
—the three decades of globalization in the run-up to the2008 ﬁnancial crisis witnessed an unprecedented degree of internationalconsolidation and industrial concentration.
This process took place inalmost every sector, including high-tech products, branded consumergoods and ﬁnancial services. Alongside a huge increase in global output,the number of leading ﬁrms in most industrial sectors shrank.