Due to massive media coverage, many people are familiar with the controversy and organized resistance that globalization has generated around the world, yet explaining what globalization actually means in practice is a complicated task. For those wanting to learn more, this book is an excellent place to start. An experienced economist, Joseph Stiglitz had a brilliant career in academia before serving for four years on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and then three years as chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank. His book clearly explains the functions and powers of the main institutions that govern globalization--the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization--along with the ramifications, both good and bad, of their policies. He strongly believes that globalization can be a positive force around the world, particularly for the poor, but only if the IMF, World Bank, and WTO dramatically alter the way they operate, beginning with increased transparency and a greater willingness to examine their own actions closely. Of his time at the World Bank, he writes, "Decisions were made on the basis of what seemed a curious blend of ideology and bad economics, dogma that sometimes seemed to be thinly veiling special interests.... Open, frank discussion was discouraged--there was no room for it." The book is not entirely critical, however: "Those who vilify globalization too often overlook its benefits," Stiglitz writes, explaining how globalization, along with foreign aid, has improved the living standards of millions around the world. With this clear and balanced book, Stiglitz has contributed significantly to the debate on this important topic. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner and Columbia University economics professor, sees globalization's unrealized potential to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth. In recent years, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization have promoted world financial stability, prosperity and free trade, yet Stiglitz wonders why so many revile these organizations' programs to the point of rioting in the streets. Casting a dispassionately analytical eye at East Asia's and Russia's financial turmoil, he argues that the IMF imposed austere policies that only exacerbated each area's problems. When he finds a similar policy pattern for other countries in crisis, Stiglitz asks how a public institution can ignore growing evidence of a flawed policy and not take action or be held accountable. In answering his own question, Stiglitz blames the "market fundamentalism" that endorses the view that a "free" market solves all problems flawlessly. As Stiglitz authoritatively indicates, one-size-fits-all economic policies can damage rather than help countries with unique financial, governmental and social institutions. He calls for public institutions to reform and become more transparent and responsive to their constituents. Stiglitz shares inside information from cabinet meetings when he served on Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and from his years as chief economist at the World Bank, divulging debates in Washington's conference rooms, naming names and raising his eyebrows at those who refuse to question certain IMF policies' repeated shortcomings. This smart, provocative study contributes significantly to the ongoing globalization debate and provides a model of analytical rigor concerning the process of assisting countries facing the challenges of economic development and transformation.
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