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The Architecture of CollapseThe Global System in the 21st Century$
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Mauro F. Guillén

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199683604

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199683604.001.0001

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(p.49) 3 Coupling
The Architecture of Collapse

Mauro F. Guillén

Oxford University Press

At the same time that the global system has become more complex, it has also become more tightly coupled. While complexity refers only to the inter-connections among actors, coupling has to do with the absence of buffers, firewalls or circuit breakers in the system. The growth of trade imbalances, trade in intermediates, foreign portfolio investment, currency trading, and cross-border banking has created more coupling in the global system. Simultaneously, countries themselves have become internally more tightly coupled because of population aging, urbanization, public indebtedness, and income and wealth inequality. These forces reduce the degrees of freedom that governments enjoy to respond to disruptions, shocks, catastrophes, and crises.

Keywords:   coupling, global system, trade imbalances, portfolio investment, currency trading, cross-border banking, population aging, urbanization, public debt, inequality

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