In some ways, 2009 vindicated globalization critics who say that the dangers of international integration outweigh its benefits. 

As financial crisis of 2008 morphed into the full-blown recession of 2009, many bright aspects of the global economy – technology, travel, poverty reduction, elevated cross-cultural understanding – dimmed in comparison to its risks, the effects of which were on full display. 

Thousands of jobs evaporated, the U.S. dollar fell in value, H1N1 “swine” flu all but halted travel to Mexico and U.S.-China spats dominated trade discussion. It was the year of the “Buy American” provision, a new 30,000-troop surge for an increasingly difficult war in Afghanistan and a general economic morass that hinted at a system in some ways too intertwined for its own good. 

As if all these weren’t enough, another wake-up call emerged on Christmas day, when a 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim man allegedly tried to detonate explosives he smuggled on board a jet bound for Detroit from Amsterdam, Netherlands. The breach epitomized a dilemma unique to today’s world: how countries secure borders in an increasingly borderless world. 

Georgia wasn’t immune to the troubling trends’ ripple effects. The state has more failed banks than any other and an unemployment rate that ended a full 3 percentage points higher than in 2008. 

As for Atlanta’s global engagement, though, some positive signs emerged amid the storm of 2009 that could play a role in spurring locally the nationwide recovery some economists say will begin during the second half of this year.

Five bright spots from troubled 2009: 

(Click links to view the articles, and use arrows within each story to navigate among them.) 

1. Brazil, Atlanta Grow Closer

2. Turkey Boosts Profile  

3. Kia Leads Korean Charge

4. Hartsfield Holds Its Own  

5. Germans See Dollars in Georgia  

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...