Digital Globalization

The New Era of Global Flows and What it Means for the United States

The rapidly growing flows of international trade and finance that characterized the 20th century have flattened or declined since 2008. Yet globalization is not moving into reverse. Instead soaring cross-border digital flows are transmitting a valuable stream of ideas and innovation around the world. Digitization changes the economics of doing business across borders as large-scale Internet platforms reduce transaction costs and create markets with truly global scale. They provide businesses with enormous built-in customer bases and effective ways to connect with them, and they enable millions of small businesses around the world to participate directly in global flows.

A new McKinsey Global Institute report, to be released at New America, finds that globalization has reached a critical turning point. This research measures how all types of global flows influence GDP and productivity growth—and for the first time, it quantifies the value of data flows.

While the digital world may be more inclusive and closely connected, it is not truly flat—and digitization tends to accentuate disparities. This echoes the findings of MGI’s recent Digital America report, which found enormous gaps between the digital “haves” and “have-mores.” As globalization turns into a more digital phenomenon, the United States can build on a significant comparative advantage if it can deepen capabilities across the economy.

The convergence of globalization and digitization means that policy makers and business leaders alike have to re-assess their strategies. Given that we are only in the very early stages of this phenomenon, enormous opportunities are still at stake. This event will bring together industry experts, economists, business leaders, and policy makers to discuss a profound change in the world’s economic ties and whether the United States can navigate the challenges posed by this more digital version of globalization.


Usman Ahmed

Head, Global Public Policy, Paypal

Robert Atkinson
Founder and President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

Karan Bhatia 

Vice President and Senior, Counsel, GE Global Government Affairs and Policy, General Electric

Aneesh Chopra 

Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, Hunch Analytics

Alan Davidson

Director of Digital Economy, U.S. Department of Commerce and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce

David Edelman
Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy, The White House

Donna Harris

Co-Founder and Co-CEO, 1776

Leena Im 

Manager of Global Policy Development, Facebook

Rebecca MacKinnon

Director, Ranking Digital Rights, New America

Susan Lund

Partner, McKinsey Global Institute

James Manyika

Director, McKinsey Global Institute; Director (Senior Partner), McKinsey & Company; Vice Chair, President's Global Development Council

Sree Ramaswamy

Senior Fellow, McKinsey Global Institute

Anne-Marie Slaughter 

President, CEO, New America

David Weller

‎Head of Global Trade Policy, Google


Rana Foroohar

Assisting Managing Editor, Time Magazine