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close this bookDiversity, Globalization, and the Ways of Nature (IDRC, 1995, 234 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentForeword
close this folder1. Introduction
View the documentGlobalization and the ways of nature
View the documentThe new globalization processes
close this folder2. Global trends and their effects on the environment
View the documentThe information revolution
View the documentDevelopment of global financial markets
View the documentDevelopment of more effective transportation networks
View the documentMovement of people
View the documentGlobalization and the unequal distribution of wealth
View the documentInternational migration
View the documentThe development of free markets
close this folder3. Planet-wide deterioration
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOur sister planet
View the documentThe unusual, oxygenated planet
View the documentThe paradox of ozone
View the documentOceans can be degraded too
View the documentThe rivers are becoming muddy
View the documentOvershooting
close this folder4. Forests under attack
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDeforestation in the 20th century
View the documentRain-forest environments
View the documentTemperate forests
close this folder5. Grasslands
View the documentSavannas
View the documentThe temperate grasslands
View the documentModifying grassland ecosystems
View the documentEnvironmental balance in grassland ecosystems
close this folder6. Aquatic ecosystems
View the documentExtractive exploitation
View the documentThe future of fish production
close this folder7. Managing planetary thirst
View the documentSome basic facts
View the documentWater supply and options
View the documentThe demand side of the issue
View the documentWater issues throughout the world
close this folder8. Protecting air quality
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAir and its principal contaminants
View the documentProcesses of contamination in industrial and urban areas
View the documentCurrent and future trends
close this folder9. Clean energy for planetary survival
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe industrial revolution
View the documentThe use of hydroelectricity
View the documentThe age of petroleum
View the documentNuclear power
View the documentThe clean options
close this folder10. Africa in the 21st Century: Sunrise or sunset?
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe causes of poverty
View the documentHistorical causes of the current situation
View the documentWars are environmentally unfriendly
View the documentEvolution of environmental management in Africa
View the documentOld and new development models
close this folder11. Latin America and the Caribbean: A history of environmental degradation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIndigenous cultures
View the documentThe colonial period
View the documentExploitation of natural resources after independence
View the documentEffects of globalization on the environment
View the documentThe maquiladora phenomenon
close this folder12. The urban environmental challenge
View the documentThe development of modern cities
View the documentLarge cities in the Third World
View the documentThe megacities of today
close this folder13. Diversity and human survival
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDocumenting diversity
View the documentResources for the future
View the documentDiversity of living systems
View the documentCauses and effects of the loss of natural diversity
View the documentDiversity and culture
View the documentRestoring what is lost
View the documentBiodiversity and research
close this folder14. Strategies for the future
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDecentralize decision-making
View the documentPeople value their environment
View the documentProblems and responsibilities are global
View the documentBibliography

Development of global financial markets

Times have changed since wealth was measured in terms of salt, corn, or gold coins. Even paper money is losing value as the nearly 200 million Visa credit cards accepted in 6.5 million stores throughout the world are used to transact about $650 million in business every day (Toffler 1990, p. 61). Including other credit cards, the figure is five times this amount. In addition, a huge number of transactions are carried out using cheques, shares, money orders, and so on. As a result of the information revolution, a growing volume of financial operations is carried out with “electronic money.” The trend is clearly toward more widespread substitution of paper-based transactions with electronic operations.

The development of this “virtual” framework has made international monetary systems more volatile; financial and commercial transactions can be carried out at a speed that is changing the rhythm of political and economic events. Financial decisions are made at a moment’s notice, at any hour of the day or night. Global markets never close. Effects are almost instantaneous. When a major financial operation takes place or an economic policy announced, repercussions can be felt throughout the world in a matter of minutes.

A further consequence of the information-based management of money has been the internationalization of money markets and a subsequent blurring of financial borders. There are increasing ties between currencies and national governments are experiencing greater difficulty in defining autonomous policies.

Somewhat paradoxically, however, financial trends are developing “on their own.” It is becoming increasingly difficult to control markets, as many more people, acting on their own, are making many more decisions over short periods of time. Central banks are having problems ensuring the stability of national currencies or the behaviour of other financial parameters.

This situation is exacerbated by the similarly widespread automation of markets and the development of new, early forecasting programs. There are “a dozen firms...managing more than 100 million dollars [US] each on the basis of advice generated by computers” (Economist 1993a, p. 3). Growing numbers of mathematicians and computer experts are dedicated to predicting market trends by computerized nonlinear forecasting and other tools that increase the speed and accuracy of financial decisions. The effects of this practice are not yet wholly understood, but they are already playing a role in the globalization trend and in liberating at least some aspects of the financial market from monopolistic control.