23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not what you might expect, but worth reading
If you are looking for a book that rages at the evils of capitalism then you are going to be disappointed. In fact this book is not really about globalisation. It is really about how the IMF called it wrong on some key events (just about) within the broad process known as globalisation. So we are treated to a bit of an examination of how the IMF drifted away from its...
Published on 20 May 2003 by tomsk77
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good insight to economic policies, no use of data
Until I read this book, I did not exactly understand what was wrong with IMF policies and its breath taking record of failures at many emerging markets. Dr. Stiglitz can help you understand. This book goes over the last 20 years of IMF failures in Russia, Eastern Europe and South East Asia and points out a number of wrongdoings:
1. IMF was usually uninterested...
Published on 25 May 2007 by Kivanc Emiroglu
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A convincing and readable protest against the IMF,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)Stiglitz is just one of the many economists who have wriiten a book on anti-globalization. One of the main differences between him and many of the other writers, however, is that he is not against globalization per se, which makes the book a more satisfying and realistic read in my opinion. He believes that globalization (and more specifically, the move toward an open market economy) can help the developing countries and their people, as long as it's done in a controlled and gradual manner.
The IMF is the main focus of his protestations in the book. Using the Asian currency crisis and the Russian market transition as case studies, he explains how the policies imposed by the IMF, which calls for rapid liberalization and privatization, have failed miserably, and in some case have even caused more harm than good.
Stiglitz presents his case in a convincingly in a way which is relatively easy to understand. What he does well particularly is his ability to explain the causes and effects of economic phenomena in concise and simple language.
What the book lacks however, is some proper documentation, which is really a necessity for a book like this. Without it, you'll get the feeling that what you're reading is merely the opinion of one person, however convincing his arguments may be. And he also tends to be too repetitive in his writings, which may distract and bore the feeling, or worse, give the impression that he is trying too hard to drive his point across.
Ultimately, despite its shortcomings, this is still a great book on globalization, especially for those who are trying to make some sense of the whole debate and to better understand the underlying workings.
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth recommending!,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)Quick transaction conducted without any problems.
Book in very good condition - no visible marks of use on the cover and on the inside.
Decidedly worth recommending.
4.0 out of 5 stars Globalization and Its Discontents.,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)A material introduction to contrarian economist Stiglitz's reasoning and deductions, with comprehensive index, priced to be sold at €5.22. Recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Same problem, same remedy, same failure - Here we go again.,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)Globalization and its Discontents has now been around for ten years. In 2002 the book was published as the tech bubble burst. It was five years since the Asian financial crisis in 1997. It was the better part of two decades since the Third World debt crisis of the 1980s effectively removed the livelihoods of masses in Latin America and Africa. And it was also ten years since the demise of the Soviet Union and its bloc.
Joseph Stiglitz's book analyses the response of the world's major financial institutions, especially the World Bank and the International Monetary fund, to these crises. National aid programmes and commercial banks also figure in the discussion. His conclusions were clear at the time - and remain so today. The ideologically-driven policy orthodoxy promoted by these bodies has repeatedly proved to be counter-productive.
I lived in Asia at the time of the crisis. I remember arguing with a Malaysian colleague about the need to take the medicine, as the IMF's prescriptions were described. Integrate fully, open your markets, remove controls and accommodate foreign interests: this was the orthodoxy. When Malaysia did the opposite, I scoffed. The Malaysian economy subsequently contracted less than others, its people suffered less pain and recovery came quicker. Thailand in particular swallowed the prescribed pills and continued to suffer.
And, by the way, during the debt crisis of the 1980s, a number of Western banks became insolvent and had to be rescued. In that era, however, most measures were put in place behind closed doors so we never got to know the lurid details. We did, however, notice the recession.
Joseph Stiglitz illustrates how the right-wing ideology of perfect, self-regulating markets, liberalisation and privatisation failed to deliver in the past. He repeatedly shows how ensuing liquidity crises were treated with adjustment loans that undermined their own goals. He repeatedly shows how a range of measures calculated to address several angles of the problem simultaneously tended to produce better results. The evidence he presents is compelling.
So why, in 2012, do we again seem to be in the same tightening trap? Wherever lack of regulation or deregulation has been applied, it seems to produce the same results. Couple that with the reality of imperfect markets where no-one feels they will ever have to answer for either greed or risk and, it seems, you finish with a crash and then recession. And those who suffer are rarely those who created the problems. Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. And what about those who ignore advice? Why use again a treatment that kills the patient? Here we go again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Credible and Readable,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)If you're studying economic geography this man is a GOD! he has written prolifically about the matter and is indisputably the authority. This is the bread and butter of studying globalisation
5.0 out of 5 stars Stiglitz v the IMF...,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)For the excoriation of a powerful if undistinguished institution, Stiglitz' book cannot be bettered. He demonstrates systematically exactly how and why the policies of the IMF have failed just about everyone, often including the financial markets they are supposed to be stabilising (and as Stiglitz would say, this really means protecting and insuring them against loss). By this account, the IMF is a mess. Caught in an ideological trap from which they have no desire to escape, they have been blundering around the globe, intimidating national governments, ignoring local economic conditions and insisting on free flow of capital funding as a prerequisite for support. This ignores any of the implications: the ideology is a substitute for thinking more seriously about how crises might be resolved as this could cause them to doubt the efficacy of their performance. That such policies have produced riots and starvation in the countries who have adopted them, like Indonesia, or more latterly Greece, seems to leave them untroubled. As Stiglitz points out, this is because of the IMF's deep-seated belief that excoration is the best route to cure fiscal and monetary irresponsibility. This implies that any difficulties with a national economy are ascribable purely to the failure of national governments and their peoples to follow a free capital market prescription of the kind the IMF invariably formulate as the solution to the problem. What Stiglitz euphemistically calls 'pain' in the economic sense seems more like punishment, dealt out by the IMF to countries who stray from the duty to make American financiers richer, regardless of the consequences for national taxpayers or local businesses.
To that end, it is a frightening and frustrating book: the story that emerges is one of doctrinaire command of vulnerable governments, whose economies are virtually destroyed by the advice they are given in order to reduce the exposure of lenders in the developed world at the expense of ordinary people. As he points out, it is the toil and taxes of local citizens that will go to paying for loans from the IMF whose benefits they rarely experience. He does this through a series of case studies, taking the Asian and South American crises, and spending much time on the transition of the economy in Russia, surely the most egregiously bungled privatization in history. It is a compelling case for reform, but given this was written before the global financial crisis we are currently experiencing had begun (though he adumbrates it in some sections, noting the logical ends of a market characterised by the self-interest of financial institutions), it is quite apparent that nothing has changed and nothing has been learned from the experience of the previous fifteen years.
There are a few difficulties with the book: it is not about globalization per se, except in the final chapter which makes some gestures towards the potential of globalism before making some stiff recommendations for the IMF (that have clearly been ignored). It is about the Americanization of the global financial system, with their 'beggar thy neighbour' business attitudes, and a self-justifying moral case for insisting on open markets for their own purposes whilst hypocritically closing their own. It also shows the limits of economics, and the economists' dependence on heavy weapons in economic intervention, whatever their perspective on potential solutions. This is a dangerous game, but in this round of Stiglitz v the IMF, there is only one winner. Stiglitz has the moral force and the weight of evidence on his side, but the financial markets continue to demand (and receive) the right to free capital flows that leave governments powerless in the destruction of the lives of their citizens. If there was ever a case or a time for national governments to ignore the IMF and pursue expansionary policies, it is now, but not too many will have the guts to do it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Pas de Haut en Bas,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Hardcover)This excellent and readable book on macro-economic policy and its effects is written (was written in 2002) by the former Chief Economist of the World Bank. It is a good read, an interesting read and a read which makes the general reader engage and think about organizations often taken at their own inflated face-value, notably the IMF.
The author makes a number of points highly relevant to the world and, particularly to a British reader, the UK today. Here we are in 2010, with a government which puffs up its own supposed economic-management credentials, yet here is a book which, by implication, rubbishes them! David Cameron, a former public relations man ---- yes I know he has a PPE from Oxford, but then so did a recent contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, a girl whose ambition was to (yawn) be prime minister...she went away with £1,000 after displaying woeful ignorance (she did not even know that the raccoon was native to North America!). Danny Alexander is Chief Secretary to the Treasury, but his only two "real" jobs were public relations ones in national parks; George Osborne, Chancellor, whpose only non-Conservative Party job filling in forms about vehicle licence plates for the london council. Nuff said. Amateurs, whose economic knowledge is back-of-a-matchbox sort or taken from think tanks staffed by twenty-something ex-Oxbridge policy nerds who have never exited the egg. This book is by a respected professional.
The author points out how naive and/or misguided it is to assume that when public services are taken away, the private sector fills the gap. Usually not. Indeed, often, the public sector is providing the services precisely because the private sector could not or did not.
The author points out how the insecurity of the poor is increasing...again relevant to modern Britain, with its welfare cuts, short-term contracts, pension cuts etc.
The author points out that the IMF and some Treasuries (he cites the US but it is even more true of the UK) have a blinkered consensus ideological view centred around austerity measures, cutting spending etc and how that view has been built up based on deliberately ignoring evidence (particularly from East Asia) which contradicts that consensus view.
We all know that statistics can be misused but often ignored is the fact that raw data is itself often corrupted or plain wrong. I heard from a very reliable source once (I did meet the person concerned as well, at a later time, but was too diplomatic to ask for his recollection lol!) that a young English exec at the World Bank (this was 30 years ago), who was in his first job (the kind of first job you get if you have been to Cambridge and your father is a heavily-connected life peer...) was sent to do a World Bank report about a small, poor, Muslim country. He spent months collecting statistics and, because of the paucity of office space in the capital, worked out of his hotel suite. One day he returned to find that a flood from the hotel plumbing had destroyed virtually all his papers and there was no back-up. He returned to Washington DC and after a while admitted to his superior what had happened. They cobbled together fake statistics and the country eventually received its loans and its economic forecast...based on educated guesses.
The author examines Russia and the absurd early 1990's plan of (he does not name him) the Harvard economis Sachs, often called "Capitalism in 100 Days". Disaster.
The author, overall, makes the point that a degree of globalization can be good and may be inevitable, but that regulatory regimes based on democratic accountability have to be in place too. A lesson for out would-be "leaders" that "the markets" and the IMF behind them are by no means always right.
I liked the fact that the author did descend from the sunlit uplands and clouds of high economic theory and position to the levels where the masses of people suffer or live as a result of the economic policies pursued by those at the top.
Recommended (especially to the members of the UK "government" "coalition"!)...
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrecy undermines democracy,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton Paperback) (Paperback)As Joseph Stiglitz explains in this remarkably candid analysis, globalization (the removal of barriers of free trade and the closer integration of national economics) has, in theory, the potential to enrich everyone in the world. But, the way it has been managed, including the international trade agreements and the policies imposed on developing countries, was not less than disastrous.
The main culprits for the disaster were international economic institutions: the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.
Joseph Stiglitz attacks in this book relentlessly the IMF, accusing it even of cooking the books (data and economic forecasts) in order to make its programs seem to work!
Stiglitz stresses rightly that development is about transforming societies, improving the lives of the poor and enabling everyone to have a chance at success and access to health care and education.
Western hypocrisy is totally blatant in the different WTO rounds. Western countries pushed poor countries to eliminate trade barriers, but kept their own barriers, preventing developing countries from exporting their agricultural products. More, they ensured that they garner a disproportionate share of the benefits of trade liberalization with the ultimate result that some of the poorest countries in the world were actually made worse off (!), e.g., the agreements on intellectual property rights had as a consequence that drugs were not available any more in poor countries at affordable prices: thousands were effectively condemned to death.
For Stiglitz, systems of global governance are essential and he proposes that the existing institutions return to their initial responsibilities: the UN for global political security, the IMF for global economic stability and the World Bank for ‘human’ economic development.
This is a book of a superb free mind and a must read for all those interested in world politics.
I also recommend in the same vein, the book of Robert Heilbroner ‘Behind the veil of economics’ and the works of Robert Kuttner. For a voice from the South, see Walden Bello’s incisive ‘Dilemmas of Domination’.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another side to the globalization story,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)An excellent and revealing account by a Nobel prize-winning economist of how globalisation has all too often been a means for wealthy and powerful nations to exploit the economic weakness of less powerful nations in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.
The main instruments of this exploitation have been the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. These institutions were set up to benefit all nations and all economic and social groups within each nation. Instead, according to Stiglitz, the policies they have forced on weaker nations (the opening up of markets to foreign imports, the wholesale privatisation of state assets at knockdown prices and the loosening of controls on the flows of capital) have served narrow financial and commercial interests within the powerful nations, while damaging the nations they were purporting to help.
Stiglitz is a supporter of well managed globalisation and optimistic that this can be achieved. The story he tells in this book, however, leaves one doubtful as to whether the real abuses of the system will be tackled effectively or within an acceptable timeframe.
This is a must read, both for those citizens of powerful nations who do not want to see their leaders abusing that power and for those citizens of poorer, less powerful nations who do not want to see their economic, social, cultural and political interests completely subordinated to the interests of narrow economic and social groups within the world's most powerful nations.
17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too bad there isn't a Nobel Prize for mudslinging!,
This review is from: Globalization and Its Discontents (Paperback)Joseph Stiglitz, the author of "Globalization and Its Discontents", is a renowned professor of economics. From 1993 to 1996 he served on President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, and from 1997 to 1999 he was Chief Economist and Senior Vice President at the World Bank. Then in 2001 he won the Nobel Prize for Economics.
So Mr. Stiglitz' credentials are certainly in order.
Unfortunately, Mr. Stiglitz' book does not do a very good job of conveying his opinions to the general public, which is presumably why he wrote the book.
"Globalization and Its Discontents" tries to be accessible to the average person but it fails in several ways. It is too academic to be easily readable, and at the same time not sufficiently documented, leaving the skeptical reader feeling unconvinced. And on top of it all the book is very boring and there is way too much repetition.
In other words, I'm not disagreeing with Joseph Stiglitz' message (it sounds reasonable to me, although I don't feel qualified to judge complex economic questions), but I find the message very poorly presented. Which is a shame, as the message is a very important one that deserves the attention of all of us, and our attention should hopefully influence the policies of international finance.
Too academic? The book is not a research article, but it still includes an index, footnotes and notes at the back. Which is OK for me, but my guess is that this will make the book intimidating for much of the intended audience.
Too poorly documented? A large portion of this book consists of descriptions of various economic problems in various places in the world during the 1990's, and how poorly these situations were handled by the IMF (International Monetary Fund). But it is all presented in very general terms, and there are no hard facts or precise details or tables of comparative numbers. So you feel that you have to take Mr. Stiglitz' descriptions on trust to a larger extent than should be necessary.
Too boring? This is perhaps the worst failing of "Globalization and Its Discontents". My estimate is that the ratio of people who start reading this book vs. the number who actually read it to the end is probably at least 4 to 1. Which is unfortunate, as the last chapter, in which Mr. Stiglitz presents his recommendations for how the conditions for international economy should be changed, is the most important part of the book.
What Mr. Stiglitz should have done was to tell a certain number of very specific stories that illustrate the message that he is trying to get across. Stories about real people and real companies, with exact dates and details and numbers. This would provide the excitement and interest to make people keep reading, while increasing the credibility of the message.
For example, tell the story of the Russians who took over the natural gas production and how they became billionaires. Tell the story of a certain Indonesian family whose small business was destroyed by the IMF's policies and the consequences for them. Tell the story of a real-estate magnate in Thailand and how he went from rags to riches and back to rags again. People want to read about people, not vague talk about how the GDP in Indonesia went down by 10%.
As mentioned above, Joseph Stiglitz is very critical of the IMF. In fact, he is very, very, very critical of the IMF, with page after page placing the blame for serious economic problems on the IMF's policies.
The copy of this book that I read included an "Afterword to the Penguin Edition". In it Mr. Stiglitz describes the launch of the hardcover edition of the book at the World Bank on June 28, 2002: "... representatives of the [IMF] decided to engage in an ad hominem attack, to the embarrassment not only of the economists at the World Bank who had come to see real engagement, but also to the IMF staffers who attended. The IMF attack gave those who were there a chance to see firsthand the IMF's arrogance and disdain for people who disagree with its perspectives."
Too bad there isn't a Nobel Prize for mudslinging. If there was then Joseph Stiglitz and the IMF could probably share it at the next presentation ceremony.
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Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz (Paperback - 3 April 2003)