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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concentric capitalism does not equal globalization, 28 Aug 2001
This review is from: Globalization in Question: The International Economy and the Possibilities of Governance (Paperback)
The central intention of the book manages to dissuade us of the idea that we are irremediably governed by the logic of something denominated: globalization. It also reveals the problematic and imprecise use of the term. The central focus of the text is Europe, Japan and the U.S.A., indeed each part of a triad of the constituent neuralgic points of the economic logic that seems to govern the trade flows, and with out which, it is impossible to rethink the reform of the World Economic Order, one in which the perimeter could be made to receive a greater economic flows. Generally regions not included under the triad's aegis, unfortunately represent a declining share in the world economic flows. That is the real theme which guide the authors reflections of the negative consequences of a systematic deterioration of the economies on the perimeter, effects which will force, more sooner than later, political alternatives by the governments of the triads, given the immense migratory forces towards the industrial countries and its derivations in social political conflicts of all types. From the beginning the book problematizes the idea of the existence, or in process, of a global economy: the authors develop ideal types of what could mean such a notion. In relative terms they propose that the world-wide economy for the period between 1870 and 1914 was much more opened, more international and integrated than the present one; greater flow of capitals from the industrial countries towards the developing countries correlatively to the inverse migratory current of a work force. It questions the existence of a massive diffusion of transnational companies, and the idea that they function on the basis of a logic on comparative advantages when calculating their productive schedules or constituent parts of the process; instead the authors defend the idea that what reigns are great multinational companies who have a great part of their assets and markets in their countries and/or regions of origin. The description of the evolution of the world-wide economy from World War I includes the discussion of the rules of international the monetary system (Gold Standard and Bretton Woods), emphasizing the always present possibility of reorganization the system in terms of floating or fixed rates of monetary convertibility or with other characteristics; that is they emphasize the contingency of the international the monetary order, product of the consensus between the governments who conform triad. Again the great financial internationalization and its diverse instruments, are located between the circuits of the great economic blocks mentioned before where the loans and forms of financing are essentially active in financial activities rather than in real investments in expanding the productive capacity, which only until recently begins to become the real object of the financial activities. The multinationals are the central actors that have generated great part of this process of growth. Thus there is a great diversity of economies that surround each of the triad poles, but the great commercial, financial flows, as well as their rate of growth only knows a concentric direction towards and between the triad's themselves. The behavior of the multinational companies shows this concentric tendency of their location (manufacturing), and recently shows signs of expanding towards the service sector. In the meantime we can see a decreased rate of growth of the periphery. The latent possibility of being excluded of the productive and commercial circuits, constituted by and between the great economic centers has produced a great numbers regional agreements on free commerce, between the concentric points and their dependent economies, emphasizing the real absence of a true liberalization of trade world-wide. Its underlined that in the last quarter of century we saw the appearance of various economies undergoing an industrialization process, but whose rhythm of growth and the actual possibility of its repetition will hardly occur given the tendencies and the consensus and rules in hegemonic centers of the triads. Without change of those rules the regional inequalities, and the developing countries will get worse. Another motto and conclusion that must be extracted of the deconstruction of the globalization made by the authors is that capitalism, its present relations of domination as well as its present rules and consensus, are purely contingent, a general logic of capital, or reconstituted economic and/or political subjects do not exist; the present economic tendencies can be transformed and require, a previous political calculation to establish the scope of the struggle (GATT, United Nations, IMF, nations, etc.) and/or the agents who would have to undertake it. By the same token we see that the authors dedicate a chapter to the nation state and the European Community respectively, with the purpose of emphasizing and demonstrating the fundamental importance of the nation state, in spite of the agreements and the international economic rules. Much ink is used to construct and establish the importance of the viable governmental economic order and its conditions of existence; and therefore, contrary to the theses that suppose less space for the intervention of governmental agencies, or likewise in the international regulation of the economy, thus regulation and intervention will become a sine qua non of the agreements in a new international economic order, which will have to offer a greater participation and fairness to the countries in the periphery. The reader of this text will find in each case a reflection and statistical support for each one of the proposals. Also convincing is the idea of the existence of unclosed spaces for important political struggles, at the nation or international level, to transform actual Capitalism and make it more equitable social phenomenon. The authors systematically resist the temptation to construct a general theory of Capitalism or of its economic or political agents. Given the importance of the multinationals agents in the international economy - within the circuits of the triad -, their behavior has to be evaluated under specific conditions, which again brings forth the primordial importance of the multiple tasks still in the hands of the nation state.
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