How distant is Tokyo?

It has become a cliché to say that we are living in a globalized world and we almost take it for granted

It has become a cliché to say that we are living in a globalized world and we almost take it for granted because we have grown so wired and connected, thanks to the information technology, that we can be informed about whatever is happening around the world with only a few minutes of delay and we sometimes even follow the aftermath of tragic events live on TV as local people reel from the shock, like in the latest bomb attacks in Paris.

But while we are so well connected and wired, we are all intrinsically locally focused: Let alone global TV channels like BBC or CNN or El Jazeera, how many people in Alberta are regular followers of Canada’s national TV network CBC?

Living in a rural area must be one of the fundamental reasons as to why people in our communities in Alberta are more focused on their immediate surroundings as they are more likely to be impacted by whatever changes may be taking place in the vicinity of their town, village or farm and that is what life dictates; therefore, there is no reason to question what is a fact of life.

However, while our small communities continue to keep on living in their own modest ways, the connected and wired world outside is increasingly encroaching on our humble, quiet and relaxed daily lives.

Although it is a perfect example of the trend, the economic decline we find ourselves in because of the slump in oil prices is somewhat painful to talk about because so many citizens of the province lost their jobs and have fallen into dire straits and are struggling to make ends meet because of it.

But oil price may be only one problem, and a small one at that, of the encroaching wider world may have in store for us.

Let’s take for example the negative interest rate policy announced by the Japanese central bank last week. Tokyo is on the other side of the globe and in Canada, at the face of it, we have hardly any reason to feel concerned; we import and produce under patent some of their efficient cars and we don’t have much of a trade with them, anyway.

But focusing a lot on the local and forgetting about the global might be blocking a healthy view of that encroaching wider world and unwittingly leading us to some traps down the road we many not be aware of.

Yes, Japan is halfway around the world but the Yen is one of the most widely traded and held currencies in the world and as it slid in value last week against other major currencies, including that of China, it has become a threat to global financial stability as China may now take the currency war to the next level to devalue the Yuan to generate another earthquake in the global financial markets.

Furthermore, how much are we really aware that negative interest rates have already been introduced in Europe and in place for several months as applied by not only European Central Bank but also in Sweden and Denmark in higher rates?

And if one remembers that Bank of Canada governor mentioned the possibility of having negative rates in Canada only a few weeks ago, suddenly Tokyo and what happened there doesn’t look so remote and irrelevant.

The point is that our new wired and connected world comes not only with great opportunities but also scary threats, which we have little advance warning about. In order to make the right choices in this world of uncertainties, the most secure way to protect oneself is mastering the art of seeking, finding and analyzing the correct information to reach accurate conclusions.


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