15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Cheers for Globalization
This remarkable book should be read by all those who are interested in the future of the world and how the blessings enjoyed by rich nations could and should become general.
Martin Wolf explains how such progress depends on the spread of liberal capitalism and how this necessarily involves further globalization. He refutes with care and remarkable politeness the...
Published on 13 Sep 2004 by Andrew R W Smithers
15 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dishonest and biased
This book contains a lot of facts but is undermined by some sloppy thinking. Wolf runs global integration and the "globalization" which critics are worried about into a single entity. Nobody doubts that global integration is increasing and it can be a very welcome process, but many of the gains have been the result of controlled integration. What people like Stiglitz...
Published on 4 Mar 2006 by J. N. Melone
Most Helpful First | Newest First
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Cheers for Globalization,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Hardcover)This remarkable book should be read by all those who are interested in the future of the world and how the blessings enjoyed by rich nations could and should become general.
Martin Wolf explains how such progress depends on the spread of liberal capitalism and how this necessarily involves further globalization. He refutes with care and remarkable politeness the ill-considered arguments of his opponents.
The book's outstanding quality derives from the author's passionate goodwill for humanity and the controlled patience which he has brought to the rebuttal of arguments which are often exceedingly weak or even downright silly.
Being on the side of the angels is not enough to produce a great work but, as the author has the additional qualities of an incisive mind and elegant style, the result is a book which will increasingly be recognised as a classic.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must if interested in globalization,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)Detailed, intelligent and thorough. Unlike other reviewers i felt that quite a bit of knowledge is assumed by Wolf. Wolf also likes to produces pages of numerical evidence in a row which i found exhausting to sift through. I would recommend Johan Norberg's "In Defence of Global Capitalism" as an easier read if you can get a hold of it, though Wolf's covers more ground. Wolf's 3 or 4 word put-downs are almost worth the price of the book themselves.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)This book provides a powerful argument for governments to encourage rather than hinder the development of a liberal globalized economy. Martin Wolf's thesis is presented intelligently and clearly, and should be comprehensible to non-economists. There is none of the jargon and convoluted discourse, loved by both social scientists and economists, which prevents the reader from truely understanding what the author is saying and hence hiding any illogicality in the arguments.
My main fear was that there would be little in the way of new material for someone who has been an avid reader of Wolf's articles in the FT and who has read other authors on the subject. However, there is such a wealth of interesting detail and originality in the analysis that this book is a must read for everyone.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who's Afraid of China?,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)The word, globalisation (I prefer the British standard spelling), generates fear, anxiety, anger and righteous indignation in equal measures. But what does globalisation mean? How does it work and why is it the single hot-button issue that galvanises protesters at the global events like the G20 summits? These are some of the questions that I had in mind when I bought Martin Wolf's Why Globalization Works. To my delight, the book answered my questions and challenged the popular stereotypes that characterise the anti-globalisation debate
The author, Martin Wolf, is associate editor and chief economics commentator at the Financial Times. He defines globalisation as the increased economic integration of the major world economies. It corresponds to a reduction of barriers to trade (tariff and non-tariff barriers) among the major economies, which, in turn, has resulted in vastly increased trade volumes in the last two decades. He argues that globalisation, so defined, is nothing new; indeed, the global economy was even more integrated before World War I than it is today; in addition, to falling barriers to trade, there were fewer barriers to the movement of people (migration). This led to sustained migration from Europe to the United States, from the United Kingdom to Australia and New Zealand, and from East Asia to the Caribbeans.
Like a brilliant general, Martin Wolf marshals the facts to support the case that increased economic integration in the last two decades has led to a significant reduction of poverty, most notably in China and India. So far so good. But what about the criticisms levelled against globalisation by articulate critics like Noreena Hertz and Naomi Klein?
Martin Wolf concedes that the anti-globalisation movement is not a homogeneous movement; it consists of many groups from mainstream single-issue advocates (NGOs), environmentalists, industry lobbies and, at the extreme, chic left-wing socialists and right-wing nationalists. Therefore, not all the issues raised by the movement were addressed. However, Martin Wolf addresses the more credible criticisms--using the facts and the numbers. These include:
1. GLOBALISATION LEADS TO A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
This argument, popularised by Naomi Klein, suggests that lax environmental regulations in The Third World has lured polluting industries from the rich world to the Third World. Therefore, in order to compete, regulations in the rich world have become more lax.
Martin Wolf demonstrates that this argument is nonsense. The evidence (foreign direct investment) shows that most rich-world investment is in--surprise, surprise--the rich world, not the Third World. Moreover, environmental regulations in the rich world have become more stringent since the 1980s; there is no evidence of a "race to the bottom" á la Naomi Klein. Would you rather invest in low-tax, unregulated Haiti than in high tax, regulated Sweden?
2. GLOBALISATION ERODES GOVERNMENT'S ABILITY TO RAISE TAXES
Using data from national governments and the OECD, Martin Wolf demonstrates that in all rich world countries, tax revenues as a percentage of GDP has been increasing since the 1980s. In some countries, for example Sweden, tax revenues are almost 50 percent of GDP. No, contrary to critics, rich-world governments have been effective at raising taxes even in the era of globalisation.
3. GLOBALISATION LEADS TO LOSS OF JOBS
Martin Wolf challenges the popular image of globalisation - outsourcing and offshoring. He shows--using the most recent research on the subject--that offshoring and outsourcing are beneficial to the rich-world as a whole. However, there are individual losers in the game: relatively unskilled workers who lose their jobs to low-cost foreign competitors. The challenge, therefore, is not to stop offshoring but to develop systems that can retrain workers who lose their jobs.
4. GLOBALISATION PROMOTES SWEATSHOPS IN THE THIRD WORLD
Most people are familiar with sweatshops where, under appalling conditions, children make Nike shoes for suburban Western consumers. The sweatshops have rightly sparked protests in The West and led to boycotts of brand name products. Martin Wolf argues that while the indignation at the sweatshop is justified, boycotting the brands may be counter-productive.
It is true that no Westerner would like to work in a sweatshop, but it begs the question, why would an Indonesian woman work in a sweatshop? The answer: the sweatshop (bad as it is from our point of view) is a better means of livelihood that her other options - early motherhood, an abusive husband, work on a farm or, worse still, prostitution.
Moreover, sweatshops are not unique to East Asia. The rich-world had its version of sweatshops in the late nineteenth century. Therefore, boycotting Third World products is akin to closing the door to Third World countries who are seeking to develop and become rich.
5. THE WASHINGTON CONSENSUS
According to Wolf, the charge that the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO have mismanaged globalisation is true. Even though he is very apologetic to the IMF, he agrees that the Washington consensus (capital market liberalisation, deregulation and tariff eradication) was naïve and poorly applied. He advocates reforming these institutions to give voice to the poor as well as the rich world.
At bottom, the anti-globalisation debate revolves around the question: who can be prosperous and who can't be? We, in the West, are used to being relatively prosperous; we are so prosperous that we often romanticise the poverty ("purity") of "simple Third World natives" Furthermore, we assume that the rise of China and India must be a threat to our collective sense of self; a sense that there is something that's "not right" about rich China.
Martin Wolf argues that global prosperity is not a zero-sum game. Nothing consigns a country to poverty better than absence from the global trading and economic system. If we care about global prosperity and the eradication of poverty, then we should campaign for more globalisation (between the Third and Rich Worlds). For sticking to the facts, using state-of-the-art research--and a liberal dose of British wit--to highlight the gains of globalisation and to refute (and sometimes confirm) the claims of the anti-globalisation movement, Martin Wolf's Why Globalization Works deserves four stars.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive work on globalisation,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)Why is this book so good? Because it is so very readable. Wolf has taken a very large subject and broken it up into all the various sections that really need to be covered. He takes all the main arguments against globalisation and argues each case in turn. He explains the benefits in a clear and simple way, using interesting case materials. This book is well researched and can be used as reference material for a University course, but at the same time it is an easy read that can be consumed from cover to cover - not easy to achieve with a subject such as this. Wolf has written a classic.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good book (even if you are against it),
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)In coherent and readable style Martin Wolf lays out the case in favour of globalisation. Whether you are in favour or against you should read this book. In making his case, Wolf tells why a global market economy makes sense and why there is too little globalisation. In Part IV he sets out his arguments on why the critics are wrong. This part should be the most exciting for anti-globalisionists given that every chapter starts off with a number of arguments against globalisation (some of which struck me as somewhat bizarre). He then goes on to explain quite comprehensively why the critics should be wrong.
I found Martin Wolf’s book indeed a blueprint for a better world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robust and well-written defence of globalisation,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)Martin Wolf has written a comprehensive yet remarkably succinct account of the benefits of globalisation. The book starts out with a startling observation, which is blindingly obvious when you think about it:
`Who imagines the welfare of Americans would be improved if their economy was fragmented among its fifty states, each with prohibitive barriers to movement of goods, services, capital and people from the others? Who supposes that Americans would be better off ... [if] Microsoft could only operate in one of these states?' Indeed, `some states would become prisons, with desperately unhappy populations living inside.'(p.3)
Therefore this fragmentation at a global level cannot be a good thing. Localism and self-sufficiency in today's world simply means impoverishment. So what's the alternative? More globalisation - that's what. Wolf is out not just to confute the critics of globalisation but to argue for its benefits, especially for the poorest.
Along the way, we are treated to a veritable butchery of myths. Globalisation means multinationals sending rich countries' jobs overseas? Hardly - most investment of rich countries goes to other rich countries. The United States does of course shed capital overseas but this is more than compensated by inward investment from other countries, meaning that there is no net loss of jobs. In 2001, the stock of inward investment into the US was $1,321 Billion, virtually identical to stock of outward investment $1,381 Billion. As for exploiting workers in poor countries, this has poor foundation in fact. Multinationals pay more than the going rate in the local economy and import skills and capital that have an upward pressure on living standards and wages.
Critics claim we live under a tyranny of logos and that corporations are undermining democracy and enfeebling the power of the state to set its own tax and spend agendas. Critics overlook that the size of the state has grown in advanced countries over the last 30 years (and that includes the US under George Bush Junior). The state, far from shrinking under the withering blast of globalisation, has actually increased its powers. States with high taxes run up trade surpluses - capital has not fled. As long as those taxed feel that the money is being spent on things of value (which by and large they do) then capital will not flee. Critics exaggerate the mobility of capital.
It remains the case that states have much more power than corporations. States can tax people, conscript them into armies and otherwise do make them do things that people do not want to do. But we use Microsoft Office because we choose to, not because Microsoft forces us to on pain of a fine or imprisonment, and we choose to use Microsoft because it brings us benefits. States can and do choose to break up corporations and corporations themselves have not universally welcomed globalisation (they may indeed favour protectionism to ward off competitors). Do corporations and their hired lobbyists try to distort the democratic process? Of course they do - and so do other interest groups but to say corporations are the dominant threat to democracy is simply mistaken. Neither have corporations been in the vanguard of globalisation - China's turn to capitalism for instance came from within, as a conscious decision of the Communist Party.
Not that everything that the critics of globalisation say is wrong. This book is not a knee jerk defence of the status quo. Wolf is scathing about the well known hypocrisies rich nations preach in the realm of trade, with high tariff barriers for instance against agricultural commodities from poorer countries, not to mention the grotesque distortions of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. But of course the complaint here is that the poor are not getting access to the benefits of trade. In addition, he deplores the nature of the financial system, and the penultimate chapter seems prescient of our current difficulties. But there is no doubt that a properly functioning financial system, when it works well, is essential to the promotion of wealth.
His advocacy for globalisation doesn't just rest on the undeniable truth that the overall stock of wealth has increased. It is because it has concrete benefits for the poor. In arguing this, he intrudes on territory that globalisation's critics covet the most: their assumption that they hold the high moral ground. Wolf shows that the decline of absolute poverty - with all the misery and squalor that accompanies it - is a good thing. He also shows that the alternative proposed, of a world of self-sufficient communities would only serve to mutually impoverish us all, with the poor losing out the most (because they have so much to gain by trade). I suspect that critics of globalisation will not like having their monopoly of sanctity challenged in this way. One hopes that the author will see fit to bring out a revised edition in the not too distant future, for the siren voices warning against the perils of globalisation have not ceased these recent years.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars critical primer on why liberal economic regimes are superior,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)THis is a very well argued book on why the global economic regime as dominated by the West is the best alternative available. Wolf is a good writer, has worked in international organizations on economic development issues, and is currently economics editor of the Financial Times.
He really goes over the basics here, without excessive resort to math, from how the global economy works, why it in his view is best, and what should be done to improve its performance.
The best thing about this book is that Wolf acknowledges rather than glosses over the problems of inequality, the corruption, poor performance, or deformation of certain international economic institutions, and the critiques of the young. While his tone is sometimes defensive (he despises Naomi Kline and the young anti-globalists), he makes an honest attempt to argue that there is amply room for improvement in the way the political economy is run.
Wolf's views are very close to my own, so what I got from this book is a solid overview of the issues as they stand at the moment. I did not need convincing, so this may be more useful for those who are asking basic questions and are more open-minded than myself.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dense read but a superb one,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) (Paperback)Martin Wolf aims to write the definitive book on globalisation and he's succeeded. This is not a light read, because Wolf doesn't patronise his readers. But it is clear, passionately argued and supported by a wealth of research. It won't convince all the doubters, but that says more about them than the quality of the book.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very clear analysis,
This review is from: Why Globalization Works (Hardcover)The book provides a very clear analysis of globalization, mostly from an economical point of view. With a simple and down to earth writing style, it helps understanding world-wide issues as the development of the WTO, and the future patterns of globalization.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) by Martin Wolf (Paperback - 4 Feb 2005)