Sunday, June 20, 2004
The world in their hands
Posted by David Smith at 08:59 AM
Category: David Smith's other articles

A review of Why Globalisation Works, by Martin Wolf

Since 1999, when anti-globalisation protesters successfully disrupted a World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle, it has sometimes seemed as if those favouring an open global economy have been in retreat. In the battle for hearts and minds, the running was being made by anti-globalisation writers such as George Monbiot, Naomi Klein and John Gray.

However, there has been a backlash against the backlash, and the pro-globalisation case is coming through loud and clear. First there was Philippe Legrain’s Open World, then Jagdish Bhagwati’s In Defence of Globalisation. Now Martin Wolf, the chief economics commentator of The Financial Times, has entered the fray.

Having toiled as a divisional economist for the World Bank, Wolf has experienced globalisation, which he defines as “integration of economic activities, via markets”, at first hand. He takes on, and rejects, most of the arguments of globalisation’s critics.

“They are wrong about global impoverishment, corporate domination, the threat to the sovereignty of the democratic state and the so-called race to the bottom in environmental and social regulation,” he writes. Would America, for instance, be better off broken up into 50 separate states that did not trade with or invest in one another?

But Wolf is fair-minded enough to concede that the critics have some points. The advanced economies are often hypocritical, wanting poor countries to liberalise their markets but unprepared to do the same themselves. A liberal global economy, though, despite being far from perfection, is the nearest to it we will get.

Wolf is always thoughtful, and mainly readable. Is he always convincing? One chapter deals with the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. Asian economies such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines switched overnight from being the darlings of international investors to being victims of sudden and substantial capital outflows.

Should emerging-market economies open their doors to international investors when global capital can turn against them so cruelly? Wolf’s answer is yes, providing countries “rethink domestic regulation, laws and behaviour” in a range of areas. That may be a tall order, especially for governments facing domestic political hostility to market-opening policies. This is particularly the case now terrorism has the symbols of globalisation in its sights. Whether Al-Qaeda can seriously put sand in the wheels of the global economy is open to debate. One suspects they represent a more serious threat than the “traditional” anti-globalisation movement Wolf successfully takes on in this book.

From The Sunday Times, June 20 2004


Anti globalisation movement is merely a reaction to a problem that people notice. It does not have any solutions yet other than the usual reactionary ones of bring down the IMF, WTO etc.

- just like Al Quaeda is a reaction by a group of radicals to problems that only ordinary the Arab world has experienced.

Whatever the nature of the REACTION the fact remains that there is a problem , which people notice and have limited means to bring about change.

An example of the problem, (excerpts from a BBC 2 video journal of a travel journalist , aired on the 24th June)
oil production in the NIGER DELTA. The sixth richest country in terms of oil production. Potential benefit to the country
near to no benefits to the local community (the LOCAL palm oil production facility in tatters owing to ignoring of traditional industries by the government - they have to import their palm oil now)
Oil spillages from underground pipes destroying the LOCAL water ways and habitat. - a shocking scene showed the burnt trees that extended miles, a lady carrying all her belongings on her back escaping her oil damaged farm on which she had planted cassava, potatoes
No compensation for the damage caused by the multinationals
Sub standard health facilities.

THE REACTION in the niger delta
growth of fundamentalism, - a LOCAL dissillusioned, jobless educated youth training young kids at a Local Islamic school to be like Osama

end of one of many examples.

So you see a trend. A PROBLEM , NO SOLUTION and THEREFORE A REACTION. You dont have to agree with anti globalist but econominsts cant be that blind to the PROBLEMS

This same trend can be seen in NAOMI KLEINS book NO LOGO.
A litany of real PROBLEMS interconnected with each other. She makes a connection between the worship of BRANDS and denegration of labour rights. And another list of REACTIONS, from what i can recall, at the final chapters of her book but no REAL SOLUTIONS.

That doesnt mean the PROBLEMS listed are not REAL , just because she has only reacted to a problem.

You dont need a postgraduate degree or a PHD , just a pair of eyes to see the PROBLEM. THE REACTION desnt need much thinking - that why it is the first resort.
The SOLUTION requires some thinking. maybe a PHD, or postgrad to catalyse local development.

The anti globalist seem to be saying
solve these problems first , then think about integrating global processes and institutions..
The blind worship of profits and share prices for them seem to be
causing these problems but they have no solution , just reactionary radical ones.

Economist should know better. Economists should drop their statistical tables, look out for the real problems happening on the ground, and come up with solutions for these PROBLEMS.

not just pen books that are just reactions to reactions. THIN AIR

Posted by: Kev at June 25, 2004 12:25 PM

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Posted by: Delhi Tour at August 17, 2005 01:08 PM
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