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Why Globalization Works by Martin Wolf
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Why Globalization Works

by Martin Wolf

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A distinguished international economist here offers a powerful defense of the global market economy. Martin Wolf explains how globalization works, critiques the charges against it, argues that the biggest obstacle to global economic progress has been the failure not of the market but of governments, and offers a realistic scenario for economic internationalism in the post-9/11 age. For this paperback edition, Wolf provides a new introduction to update the debate.
  HitherGreen | Jan 23, 2016 |
This book addresses globalization almost exclusively from an economic standpoint. Viewed within those bounds, it seems pretty good, though I had a hard time telling how much to take at face value since I didn’t feel like I had enough of a grasp of macroeconomics, trade, and finance to really engage and argue with it. He seemed to be making every effort to be even-handed, in that sober British-empiricist sort of way, but it’s hard to tell if that’s genuine or just a rhetorical strategy.

But, I’ve also not had much doubt that globalization has been an economic boon, if a somewhat fraught and unstable one, for most people and countries involved, or that the lack of integration with global markets is what’s really killing the poorest of the poor countries, which is the best and most compelling argument he makes. The problem is that he refuses to engage the argument that there might be other values that aren’t strictly economic but are nonetheless requirements for human health and happiness. Economic growth is of course incredibly important, but it’s necessary-but-not-sufficient, and economists can never seem to grasp that simple fact.

He also blatantly caricatures those who would make arguments against a solely economic valuation of human happiness, almost always picking his putative opponents from the dumbest and most flamboyant 5% of people who question the costs of globalization, etc. The old “dirty hippies” kneejerk thing, which I would have thought he was above based on the soberness of much of his argument. Whenever he argues against fellow economists, he’s always evenhanded and fair, but anytime a non-economic concern comes up, he quickly gets dismissive and petulant.

So, if you want a look at globalization as an economic phenomenon from a market fundamentalist who at least seems fairly even-handed and willing to acknowledge and critique the errors and injustices that have happened in a strictly economic context, this is your book. If you want a broad-based argument for or critical examination of globalization that really addresses environmental, social, cultural, and the myriad other associated concerns, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Definitely worth reading as part of a broad survey, which is sort of what I’m gradually doing on the topic, but I wouldn’t read it as a sole source. ( )
  jddunn | Nov 10, 2010 |
Just before I started with Why Globalization Works, I read The World's Banker, a biography of James Wolfensohn, interlaced with a history of the World Bank in the last twenty years. That book, written by Sebastian Mallaby of The Economist, talked about some of the challenges faced development organizations like the World Bank from the "vast NGO conspiracy".

In Why Globalization Works, Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of The Financial Times and a one time economist for the World Bank brings a scholarly defense of economic liberalization, along with a scathing reprimand for its critics. Mr. Wolf tends to be overtly analytical in style, the book is neatly organized in five parts and most of the chapters have numbered lists of issues that the author plans to tackle. This tool is both, the book's strength as well as its weakness. The cold hard data is hard to argue against but at the same time, I found myself lost in the numbers many a time.

I would like to discuss two (out of several) interesting observations from the book. The first is the comparison of the market to American football, an "ordered brawl" as opposed to say a street fight with no rules (the book mentions "folk football" instead of street fight). This comparison is attributed to the book Reinventing the Bazaar by John McMillan of UC Berkeley. That's the best metaphor of free market capitalism I have ever heard and something I will be repeating to associates in the future.

The second observation that I found interesting was Mr. Wolf's response to the allegation that wages, in China for example are so overwhelmingly low that they will invariably drive down wages for developed countries as well. An average Chinese worker engaged in manufacturing makes about $730 annually (or did according to the book, published in 2004), while similar German, American and British workers earned $35,000, $29,000 and $24,000 respectively. Mr. Wolf's response is that the Chinese worker is also that much less productive than his/her Western counterpart. He then follows up his claim with enough statistics, footnotes and references to satisfy the most discerning reader.

Finally, I really enjoyed the utter disdain Mr. Wolf shows for critics like Naomi Klein. He holds no punches in his criticism of the Canadian anti-globalization activist on her absurd positions on world trade and her diatribe against "corporations"

In spite of the excessive reliance on numbers and the extreme organization, this is an important and necessary book. Recommended. ( )
  ubaidd | Jun 2, 2009 |
This may not be the best review in the world, because I haven't finished the book. However, I have stopped reading it. Globalisation may be a wonderful thing, which will solve all the world's ills, but I'll never know (at least from reading this). If you're an economist, or some sort of statistics junkie, then you may fare better, but if, like me, you are looking for something to explain why globalisation is a good thing in laymans terms, then forget it. The overall impression I got from this book is that if you have to ask if globalisation is a good thing, then you're too dumb to understand the answer. Didn't work for me. ( )
  Floppy | Dec 21, 2005 |
Showing 4 of 4
The author, a Financial Times editor, makes a conventional economist's argument for globalization that is not likely to convince many skeptics. His faith is that growth and everything else good comes from "the market," while any problems with globalization must be the fault of governments.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300107773, Paperback)

A distinguished international economist here offers a powerful defense of the global market economy. Martin Wolf explains how globalization works, critiques the charges against it, argues that the biggest obstacle to global economic progress has been the failure not of the market but of governments, and offers a realistic scenario for economic internationalism in the post-9/11 age. For this paperback edition, Wolf provides a new introduction to update the debate.

“Splendid. . . . The definitive treatment of the subject, and an absorbing read.”—Economist
“Accessible and clearly argued. . . . A wealth of material on every page.”—Bruce Bartlett, Wall Street Journal
"[Written by] one of the world’s most respected economic journalists, . . .this elegant and passionate defense of trade liberalization is essential reading."—Arvind Panagariya, Foreign Affairs
"A powerful book."—Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post
“No one has summarised more coherently the recent, voluminous research. . . . Elegantly and persuasively, Wolf marshals the facts.”—Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph
“A necessary and compelling read for all who want to understand the logic of unfolding events.”—Robert Skidelsky, New Statesman

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The debate on globalization has reached a level of intensity that inhibits comprehension and obscures the issues. In this edition, Wolf explains how globalization works as a concept and how it operates in reality. He confronts the charges against globalization and offers a realistic scenario for the future.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300107773, 0300102526

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