Global economy

This module explains what global economy is, describes global production chains patterns and how and who is making the rules


“Development is about transforming the lives of people, not just transforming economies.” Joseph E. Stiglitz

The cotton in your favourite trousers comes from Pakistan, your mobile telephone contains materials from the Congo and the plastic bag from the supermarket is manufactured using crude oil from Nigeria. These three small examples demonstrate that we are bound together in global economic interdependence.

Our lifestyle is made possible for us by global economic processes, that is to say by the fact that countries cultivate and maintain economic ties and relationships with one another. This includes trading in goods as well as the movement of labour and capital.

Trade in raw materials, products and services across countries and continents existed millenia ago. However, the global economic system is gradually reaching its limits. 2.5 billion people worldwide live on less than 2 dollars per day although companies have never before made such high profits. 923 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat although tonnes of edible food are thrown away every day. We have placed ourselves in a precarious situation which is gradually tipping (source: WTO 2008, FAO 2008).

In terms of the ecologic footprint, we would need an Earth nearly three times as big if all the world’s people were to live the lifestyle of the average European (source: This is a good reason to consider how the global economy works. Who makes the rules? Who benefits? And is this fair at all?

On the following pages you will learn more about this.


  • 17 pages
  • Opening and closing questions
  • 1 practical exercise for which you will leave the screen
  • 5 exercises which will be completed by the computer

Estimated length of the module: approx. 4 hours

  • Developed by: Susanne Paschke, Südwind Agentur