The creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, after nearly eight years of negotiations and as the culmination of the so-called “Uruguay Round” (the last under the GATT), ushered quite a different understanding [of international trade]. Along with the onset of financial globalization around 1990, the WTO marks the pursuit of a new kind of globalization that reversed the Bretton Woods priorities [country first/international trade second]: hypergobalization. Domestic economic management was to become subservient to international trade and finance rather than the other way around. Economic globalization, the international integration of markets for goods and capital (but not labor),became an end in itself, overshadowing domestic agendas.
The thrust of policy discussions increasingly reflected this change. From the 1980s on, if you wanted to argue for or against something, you couldn't do better than adorn your case with the words "our countrv's international competitiveness requires it." Globalization became an imperative, apparently requiring all nations to pursue a common strategy of low corporate taxation, tight fiscal policy, deregulation, and reduction of the power of unions.
"[Boeing's] survival depends on being competitive—and the state of Washington has a lot at stake... By taking steps to remain competitive, much like we did earlier this year... we will ensure that Washington continues to benefit from the jobs, revenue, and technological skills we contribute to this region. I've never seen such a fierce marketplace."
Nadella strikes the corporate world as a kind of Gandhi figure. Tall and trim with buzzed hair and dark-rimmed glasses, he exudes a corporate brand of asceticism. His lean runner’s body harbors no extra fat. His speech is measured and Spartan. His disciplined form matches his disciplined attitude. In his first public interview as CEO, he stated: “The first thing I want to do and focus on is ruthlessly remove any obstacles that allow us to innovate.”
His self-proclaimed “competitive zeal” came through last week, when he announced by e-mail that Microsoft would shave off 18,000 jobs as a way to “become more agile and move faster” in the new economy.
But while neo-liberals accept the need for state intervention and reject pure governmental passivity, they are opposed to any action that might frustrate the operation of competition between private interests. State intervention even has the converse sense. It does not involve limiting the market through corrective or compensatory action, but developing and purifying the competitive market through a carefully tailored legal framework. It is no longer a question of postulating a spontaneous agreement between individual interests, but of creating the optimal conditions for the interplay of their rivalry to satisfy the collective interest. In this respect, rejecting the second of the two propositions mentioned above, neo-liberalism combines a rehabilitation of public intervention with a conception of the market centred on competition, It [makes] competition the cardinal principle of social and individual existence.