In her “Situating Global Capitalisms: A View from Wall Street Investment Banks,” Karen Ho mentions the “seductive rhetoric of the global.” Ho launches into a deep, intense discussion of the reaches of global capitalism, Wall Street’s effect on that global capitalism and, in particular, the effect of marketing and academia on the perception of the global. One piece that stuck with me was Ho’s mention of the marketing powerhouses that are JP Morgan
and Merrill Lynch employing global reach as a tool for success. Without a doubt, globalization exists. But how many companies have gained explicitly from globalization, both literally and with figurative perception?
By utilizing such global language in their publicity, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan can extract monetary gain. JP Morgan calls themselves a “global problem solver,” while Merrill Lynch claims to “serve the needs of clients across all geographic borders.” Clearly, these companies seek to sell the “global dream,” as Ho labels it. Yet Ho also points out that this global dream often works better as just that—a dream. Merrill Lynch, for example, attempted to expand into the Japanese market that listed over $10 trillion in household savings. Merrill wanted the Japanese to invest those savings in their own product, thus boosting their capital flow and global brand. Yet Merrill’s expansion into Japan failed miserably, costing the company over $400 million in losses. It turned out that Merrill could do better off just selling the concept of globalism than actually, physically attempting it.
Of course, Ho’s argument here attributes that seductive rhetoric to more than marketing powerhouses. She even goes so far as to claim that academics have fallen into that seduction, knowingly or not, and that scholars have encouraged Wall Street’s takeover of globalism. Though I would not necessarily devote the same level of skepticism as Ho does, the concept of the “seductive rhetoric of the global” certainly stuck with me. While Merrill Lynch couldn’t win over the Japanese market literally, just the ability to say that they can is enough to win them money in this globally-obsessed cultural economy.