The Lexus and the Olive Tree
Financially, Citizens, and countries are no longer islands into themselves. With the
advent of globalization, the computer, and in particular the internet, people can easily
invest not only in foreign corporations but also in the bonds and other papers of the
foreign countries themselves. As a result, what happens in the economies of foreign
countries can rapidly affect the investors of countries halfway across the world. This has
been the case for only ten years, and the reason why Friedman says its whole new ball
game and that --- “the world is only ten years old”.
The cold war no longer is a dominating system for understanding foreign affairs. We are
now in a new international system Friedman calls “globalization”. The Cold war was
characterized by division; now it’s characterized by integration, integration made
possible by rapid-speed airplanes, cheap international telephone charges, satellite
communication and more than ever, the computer and the internet. We now have an
entirely new set of financial understandings to achieve. What used to be true is no longer
As a result of information Arbitrage, we can no longer think like specialists, because
what’s going on in this new world requires us to think rapidly and multi-dimensionally.
We can no longer, for example, think only like financiers; we must understand policies,
because what happens politically in one country can affect finances in another. How?
Why? Because, we can invest in corporations and countries other than the U.S., for the
same reason, we can no longer look at the weather patterns in just here in the U.S.; what
happens with the weather in a foreign country might affect that country - markets in
which we may have invested.
Friedman uses the Lexus as a symbol of “the drive for sustenance, improvement,
prosperity and modernization- as it is played out in today’s globalization system. The
Lexus represents all the burgeoning global markets, financial institutions and computer
technologies with which we pursue higher living standards today.” (32, 33)
In addition, the author described the Olive tree as “Olive trees are important. They
represent everything that roots us, anchors us, identifies us and
locates us in this world—
whether it be belonging to a family, a community , a tribe, a nation, a religion, or , most
of all a place called home. Olive trees are what give us the warmth of a family, the joy of
individuality, the intimacy of personal rituals, the depth of private relationships, as well
as the confidence and security to reach out and encounter other. We fight so intensely at