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Russian academic reveals four scenarios for post-pandemic world

The "sprouts" of each scenario are already visible now, Anatoly Torkunov said

MOSCOW, May 19. /TASS/. Specialists from the Moscow State International Relations Institute (MGIMO) are looking into four possible scenarios for global development after the coronavirus pandemic, MGIMO rector Anatoly Torkunov said in an interview with TASS.

Torkunov revealed that since the 1970s MGIMO has had a scenario analysis school, which is now studying predictions concerning the pandemic, among other things. The "sprouts" of each scenario are already visible at this moment, he emphasized.

The new globalization

The first scenario is characterized by an abundance of resources and a high level of cooperation.

"Let’s imagine that the global economic crisis is overcome relatively fast and new technologies - for example, the digital [technology] and biotech – ensure a high growth rate and key players gain new cooperation experience during the fight against the pandemic," Torkunov said. "American-Chinese relations strike a balance, based on mutual economic interests. In addition, the world manages to preserve the advantages of globalization, even via an exchange of assets between the biggest economic players."

Economic growth would gradually diminish inequality, and the domestic political situation in the US would stabilize, in addition, its foreign policy would become less impulsive. According to the rector, under this scenario, the perception of the globalization itself would change: from the expansion of transnational corporations, whose security is provided by a single superpower, to broad cooperation among nation-states. This scenario, he says, could be dubbed "the new globalization."

The ‘new’ Great Depression 

The second scenario highlights the world amid shortage of resources and poor cooperation.

"The global economy mires in stagnation, with US-Chinese relations in crisis. Mounting inequality amid the shock from the pandemic, which many states coped with poorly, escalates into social conflicts," Torkunov elaborates. "We have already seen it in the past decade: the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Yellow Vests in France, the electoral triumphs of ‘non-systemic’ politicians from both the right and the left, and the rise of nationalism along with skepticism towards traditional integration structures."

He underscored that these trends had appeared even before the coronavirus outbreak, and many problems had only intensified during the pandemic. The needy can’t get medical assistance, conflicts and unrest in the international system escalate, and sanctions become a tool of ‘carnivorous expropriation’. This scenario could be dubbed "the new Great Depression," the MGIMO rector says.

Goods and equality

In the third scenario, resources are still scarce, but the level of international cooperation is high.

"The idea of equality, of fair distribution of goods becomes fashionable again. Meanwhile, the economic situation might become too difficult to support politically motivated and costly restrictions on international economic cooperation," Torkunov pointed out.

This "harmonious" scenario is quite possible, the rector says.

"The elites are entirely consumed by internal political problems and do not conduct an active foreign policy. In fact, the pandemic provides possible trajectories for such harmonization in this regard," he explained.

Everyone for themselves

In the fourth scenario, resources are abundant, but international cooperation is fragile.

"The global economy recuperates relatively fast, while the pandemic sharpens existing trends rather than creating new ones. Previous regional conflicts drag on. International competition intensifies, although the most militarily powerful players refrain from the most risky decisions," Torkunov noted. "The most powerful economies - the US and China, above all - realizing that ‘globalization is broken,’ seek to surround themselves with techno-economical blocs, with larger associations of nations, oriented towards a technological leader, who possesses an emission center, a critical mass of population and high-technology companies, with a vast enough market."

Under these circumstances, international trade and investments will tend to enclose itself within these techno-economical blocs.

"Their existence fuels competition between the largest powers and shapes the architecture of a new polycentric world. International cooperation is active within these blocs, but is relatively weak between them," the rector said, adding that MGIMO analysts have dubbed this scenario "everyone for themselves."