August 16, 2007
Kiwis & Globallization.
Posted by William Birdthistle

The classic instantiation of globalization's horror is, presumably, a Starbucks kiosk in the heart of the Forbidden City.  That is to say, some piece of crass and corporate Americana lurking amidst the world's antient cultural treasures like a mouldy gobbet of cheese on a platter of fresh crudité.  Indeed, globalization is often characterized primarily in terms of toxic U.S. exports.

But two recent variants of the phenomenon strike me as encouraging examples of the beneficence of a global economy.  The first is not the export of an American creation but the import of a foreign one.  HBO is now running "Flight of the Conchords," a show with two New Zealanders in the lead roles.  No, they aren't dubbed or subtitled -- their accents are thick, authentic, and not surprisingly a regular source of the humor (humour?).  And unlike "The Office," the show hasn't jettisoned its comedic sources for U.S. simulacra.  Here's an example of the show's signature, a musical cutaway from quotidian struggles (in this case, eating a samosa alone at a party):

The second is, again, not a U.S. export but rather a (possible) U.S. purchase of something foreign, somewhere foreign.  In this case, the looming interest by yet another American in the purchase of an English Premiership soccer team: Arsenal by Stan Kroenke.  If successful, he would join Malcolm Glazer of Manchester United, Tom Hicks & George Gillett of Liverpool, and Randy Lerner of Aston Villa as an American team owner.  While the English are no doubt lamenting the loss of their sporting institutions to these Yanks (after similar depredations by Russians, Thais, and Scandinavians), these purchases strike me as evidence of the vitality of the league, not its demise.  (As an aside, the majority of these acquisitions involve private takeovers of publicly traded businesses, without the encouragement of SOX.)

Perhaps the time to worry will be when foreign owners (like Chinese purchasers of U.S. Treasuries) stop buying and start selling.

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