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Global Flows in a Digital Age: How Trade, Finance, People, and Data Connect the World Economy

By McKinsey Global Institute

The global web of economic interconnections between countries and companies is growing ever larger and more complex. Yet often the public discussion focuses on narrow metrics, such as exports, or individual flows such as cross-border financial flows or immigration. Much less research has been done to analyze the comprehensive web of cross-border interactions that increasingly characterize our world. This report contributes to addressing that gap.

In this report, the McKinsey Global Institute and the McKinsey High Tech Practice examine the evolution of global flows of goods, services, finance, people, and the data and communication flows that underlie the others. We compiled a comprehensive dataset on the inflows and outflows in each of the five categories for 195 countries from 1990–2013, drawing on both public and proprietary data sources. We focus specifically on how two major forces are shaping global flows: the shift in the weight of the global economy toward emerging economies, and the spread of digital technologies and Internet connectivity…

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