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George Soros on Globalization 1st Edition

21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1586481254
ISBN-10: 1586481258
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Financial mastermind Soros (The Alchemy of Finance, etc.) has made his mark as a philanthropist with a progressive foreign policy, fostering open societies. He equates globalization with "the free movement of capital and the increasing domination of national economies by global financial markets and multinational corporations." In this treatise, he explains how his vision to "make global capitalism more stable and equitable" acknowledges that antiglobalization protesters have a case against the mainstream consensus that the market works well. Instead of dismantling existing international financial and trade institutions, though, Soros suggests reform. Market fundamentalists, he says, are unwilling to modify existing institutions to create a level playing field; moreover, they're loath to create institutions to foster social goals like reducing poverty. Protestors, he observes, are "strangely blind" to the need to improve the quality of government and public life in poorer countries. Soros's suggested method provides aid that will "enable, encourage, and reinforce" voluntary compliance with international standards relating to environment, education and labor. His proposal? The richer countries in the IMF issue Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) for international assistance i.e., international reserve assets a process that shares the burden equitably, with the United States paying its fair share. A board of "eminent persons" chooses who's eligible for assistance, and a separate audit commission evaluates those chosen. After September 11, Soros notes in conclusion, Americans must recognize the world's precarious interdependence. Soros has an admirable track record and the virtue of hindsight (his foundations have done innovative work and his take on what could have been done in Russia over the past decade is compelling). This dry but vital book deserves attention and debate.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Renowned international investor and financial guru Soros outlines the problems of globalization, limiting its meaning here to "the free movement of capital and the increasing domination of national economies by global financial markets and multinational corporations." Thus, Soros does not delve into the social or cultural applications of globalization. Criticism instead is leveled on both the "market fundamentalists"--Reagan-Thatcher types who seek to remove all impediments (taxation and regulation) to international investing--and the antiglobalization activists, who see the phenomenon as immoral. An admitted fan of globalization, Soros contends that the market is amoral but that certain reforms are necessary to ensure ethical standards. Soros' conclusion is that international institutions have not kept pace with the international economy, and a true "open society" (the title of Soros' last book) relies on that progress. A follow-up is in the offing, as the author is anxious to further expand on his open-society idea. Though the subject matter is complicated, Soros' simplified treatment makes this a timely and necessary title for any basic economy collection. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st edition (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481254
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,689,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary on August 12, 1930. He survived the occupation of Budapest and left communist Hungary in 1947 for England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics. While a student at LSE, Mr. Soros became familiar with the work of the philosopher Karl Popper, who had a profound influence on his thinking and later on his professional and philanthropic activities. The financier. In 1956 Mr. Soros moved to the United States, where he began to accumulate a large fortune through an international investment fund he founded and managed. Today he is Chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By "krchicago" on December 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I wanted to learn something about the globalization debate and try to understand why it has gotten some people stirred up enought to riot in Seattle and stage mass protests elsewhere. I had at least heard of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO before all this got started, but (like probably 98% of Americans) I had no real idea of what they do or how they do it. I didn't want to start out by reading either an economist (since as a general rule they seem to be excruciatingly poor writers) or one of the radical reformers (ditto). George Soros seemed like the perfect solution -- a successful player in the international financial markets, who has directed a significant chunk of his wealth to international philanthropic efforts. In other words, someone who has seen the problems from the inside and is working to remedy them (even though he has a stake in the current system). Soros' conviction in France last week for insider trading probably hurts his personal credibility, but doesn't affect the validity of his arguments about our international institutions and the US's role in the world.
"George Soros on Globalization" is a short book (about 180 pages, with *lots* of blank space), which is both its chief virtue and a significant limitation. It's a fast read and gave me a good overview of the problems with our global financial and trade arrangements (what these markets can and cannot do, the role the US has played and should play in the allocation of private and public goods), and a basic understanding of some possible solutions. Brevity also translates to very little explanation, however (I still don't really know what the World Bank and the IMF do), and very little development of Soros' thoughts on possible solutions.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Keirsey on March 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
George Soros is generally an articulate, thoughtful, and sincere person who puts his money where his mouth is. He never hides his political agenda as other economic pundits do. In this short book he opens the debate on what directions should be taken in the international community to tackle some of the perceived defects of the global financial system. He takes the current US government to task for being unilateral, whether that's a fair criticism or not is debatable; nevertheless, he is sincere in trying to find solutions that might be better for everybody concerned, including the US.
The book is very much an opinion piece: its like an extended op ed, so don't expect a tutorial or clear explanation of how globalization has done or how it works. In his previous books he has more about his life, experience, and insights into the financial world, and these books are more interesting reads. In reality, this book more of a political treatise with a economic focus, which you may or may not agree with. But he sincerely puts forth a concrete proposal to use the WTO and IMF in an effective manner to create his vision of open societies, a laudable goal, which no doubt will be ignored. He is interested in debate, but its too bad he is not publically accessable, like all rich and famous (I tried and failed), since he needs to be informed of some scientific analogies similar to his concept of reflective processes and that might help him come up with a more realistic proposal (that might work). Moreover, he would understand why his seemly practical proposal is too idealistic, even for a hard-nosed capitalist with significant experience in international finance.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By therosen VINE VOICE on March 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is an interesting take on the problems inherent in globalization. (Think the Argentinean default)
Soros has distinct credentials to write on the subject:
1 - He's made quite a bit of money (Billions) off of currency speculation.
2 - He has financed numerous foundations attempting to resolve the problems described.
The book makes for interesting reading to the non-economist, in that it explains the WTO, World Back, IMF and other international organizations supporting global development. It defends their success against their missions, while highlighting the deficiencies. Soros admits the complexity of the problem, and proposes several solutions.
There were two major weak spots in the book:
1 - His concept of Special Drawing Rights could use more explanation. Identical descriptions occur 3 times, but none are accessible to the lay reader.
2 - He makes blanket accusations against "market fundamentalism" without defining it, or explaining why it continues to be the dominant view.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a high level explanation of the issues with globalization and the key international organizations involved, this is the book for you. If you're looking for clear resolutions, this may prove elusive.
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40 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an easy to read common sense book that absorbs and addresses some of the criticisms of the World Trade Organization, speaks to the weakness of the International Labor Organization, and proposes the equivalent of a global Marshall Plan, but as a multi-national initiative. It is essential reading at a time when too many politicians do not yet make the connection between terrorism and what George Soros has called "the other axis of evil: poverty, disease, & ignorance."
At a time when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is treating anti-globalization activists as just one step under terrorists (in one recent case denying a Canadian activist entry to the U.S. to honor an invitation to speak at a U.S. university), George Soros' is easily the most responsible and the wealthiest voice cautioning all of us that the combined forces of globalization (which reduces citizen sovereignty) and consumerism (which reduces citizen prosperity) could be the death knell of capitalism.
I am reminded of how the U.S. Secret Service ran amok against so-called "hackers" (the best of them trained at MIT and now multi-millionaires) because it did not understand that hackers are like astronauts, pushing the edge of the envelope, and it did not understand that it was the U.S. communications and computing industry that was criminally negligent in offering the consumer and the government a national information infrastructure that was incredibly fragile and full of security holes. It was industry that failed to exercise due-diligence, and it was hackers that exposes these flaws well in advance of the Y2K panic. The anti-globalization activists, Lori Wallach among them (and she has clearly influenced Soros in this book) are the 21st Century hackers for world peace and prosperity.
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