Getting Them Started

NOTE: These activities are best suited to senior high school students.

Introduce them to the article

Former chief economist at CIBC, Jeff Rubin, takes his most recent trend analysis to the topic of globalization, reviewing the COVID-19 pandemic as it affects and will affect the current and future international flow of goods. The principal reason for globalization has been to allow goods to be produced in the country that can do so most cheaply, which is why Southeast Asia tends to be the production hub for PPE (personal protective equipment). With most countries scrambling to secure enough PPE for their needs, many are now looking at domestic production in the future. Rubin asks: if this is happening with supplies vital to dealing with a pandemic, what other kinds of production might be heading home rather than being sourced from foreign producers and what is the future of globalization itself?

To illustrate the effects of globalization to date, search your home to see how many products in it were sourced outside Canada. For example, if you are reading this on a computer, check to see where the computer was made; the writer of this lesson is using a MacBook that was “assembled in China.” Here are some other suggestions: TV set, cellphones, tablets, dinnerware, chairs, tables, pens, canned or bottled foodstuffs, stoves, refrigerators, frozen shrimp, cars, automobiles, bicycles, backpacks, clothing, running shoes and so on.

Make a list of what was made, grown, or produced in Canada and another list of everything that came from outside Canada. Ask: What would happen if we could no longer buy these items from other countries?

Reading it with them

Read Mr. Rubin’s article aloud, answering questions as you’re able, or working together to find answers on the Internet. You can save time by using Wikipedia as much as possible; simply check the top of the page to ensure the article is well-documented. Before you start, discuss how might the title of Mr. Rubin’s book, to be published late this year, suggest his particular point of view in the article?

Terms to explain

Globalization, supply chain, multilateral, tariffs, GDP, market correction, zoonotic, decimation (common usage)

Key things they can learn

  • How the COVID-19 crisis could affect the American election;
  • How the crisis has been unique in bringing world economies to a standstill;
  • The kinds of products we need that have become scarce;
  • How international trade agreements can become irrelevant;
  • How the current situation compares to the recent and more distant past, for example, the 1980s;
  • The size of comparative job losses compared to previous crises.
Helping Them Learn

Sample questions to pose

  • How do you feel about this article? Does it make you worry about the future, or do you think the changes in the way the world might look in the future could be positive?
  • Do you think the economy will return to the way it was a few months ago when the current crisis passes, or will countries start to produce more products domestically?
  • Do you think its potential benefits to the middle class will happen, as Mr. Rubin suggests might be the case?
Additional Learning

Activities to do together:

  • Revisit your list of products that were produced outside Canada. Which of these could have been produced here, and which likely not? Which of these could you do without, if you had to?
  • Take a few minutes to watch a business news channel, or check out the Globe and Mail’s investor pages to see how the stock markets are performing. Click on the TSX and check its performance over the past year, and then over the past three months. How would you describe this performance and, if you were an investor, would you be concerned or optimistic–or both?
  • Note any shortages of products in the stores where you shop, and find out where they are sourced.