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Why Globalization Works (Yale Nota Bene) Paperback – June 10, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Yale Nota Bene
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd edition (June 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300107773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300107777
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. Wolf doesn't consider that economic processes redistribute power and therefore transform politics and the possibilities of government action. Like so many economists, he analyzes primarily aggregate statistics: gray averages. For example, using aggregate figures he argues that workers in rich countries are paid more because they are much more productive than workers in poor countries are. Thus high-paid workers need not fear that competition from low-paid workers will undermine their economic security. The reason, he explains, is that workers in developed countries work, on average, with far less capital per worker. While this is true in aggregate, for a particular transnational firm deciding whether to locate a new factory in Shanghai or Chicago, the difference in productivity will rarely be as great as the wage differential. Therefore, as long as other costs and risks do not overwhelm the benefit of cheaper labor, there is a long-term tendency for investment and jobs to flow toward low-wage countries. Wolf neglects the profound consequences of relative labor immobility (because of immigration restrictions and cultural barriers) compared with the mobility of products, many services and capital, one of the characteristic features of contemporary globalization.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A distinguished international economist here offers a powerful defense of 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.-->

“No one has summarized more coherently the recent, voluminous research. . . . Elegantly and persuasively, Wolf marshals the facts.”—Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph

“[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

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Customer Reviews

Yet this book is written so as to be easy to read.
"The market is the most powerful institution for raising living standards ever invented... but markets need states, just as states need markets."
Ronny Max
Not only does Wolf make a convincing case, he also writes in a clear, compelling, and interesting style.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By EStahl2 on August 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a distinguished columnist (the most sophisticated in the stable at the most sophisticated Financial Times), Martin Wolf can be expected to write clearly and persuasively. He does. Any reader of his columns (I am a loyal one) would expect mountains of carefully considered statistics. They are there in abundance.

These virtues, however, are not the best reason to read this book. The greater interest is in Wolf's emphasis on the importance of government probity and policy in economic development. Indeed, his commitment to free trade -- while deep and wide -- seems almost secondary to his belief in sound government. That is partly the luxury of success. Tariffs and barriers in most countries and industries have fallen so low that they are only occasionally important impediments to prosperity. Still, it is remarkable to see Wolf cautiously endorsing the protection of infant industries. The emphasis on government in the longer second portion of the book seems rather at odds with the market-centred reading of history in the first.

Wolf is far from the anti-globalisation caricature of the economist as theory-driven and uncaring about human suffering. On the contrary, he is entirely focussed on the economic good, particularly of the poor. The moral tone of much of the book is especially appealing. The reader can hardly not share his dismay at the corruption of the poor and the indifference and selfishness of the rich.

I would have liked more political analysis, considering Wolf's enthusiasm for the government role in economic health. In particular, while Wolf is very enthusiastic about democracy, he is very sceptical about the institutional strength of democracies in the rich countries. There is a possibly dangerous paradox there. Wolf's analysis would be very interesting.
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29 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on November 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In this purpose-driven book, author Martin Wolf stakes out his intellectual turf clearly and defends it. Wolf begins with the concept that the value of the individual and the importance of that individual's right to pursue economic advancement are the foundation of the world's great democracies. From there, he levels a devastating critique against the anti-globalists and the diverse interests that oppose the global integration of markets. He presents strong evidence that the power of international corporations has been exaggerated, and concludes that the issue isn't too much globalization, but rather too little. This clear-eyed, well-researched defense of globalization should become a mainstay in any library of economic rationalism. We recommend it most highly.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Hanon on January 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
In regards to globalization, the book made some valid and often frustrating points. The author didn't leave much room for disagreement. As someone that is skeptical of globalization, it was good to hear about the positive elements. It challenged my points of view. I am still deciding what to think on the subject and the book has encouraged me to think more deeply.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Hobbes on September 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Every time I see a book like this, I feel that much better: there are rational people in the world.

In the book, Wolf, a respected columnist for the Financial Times, systematically dismantles many of the arguments used against globalization and then constructs a picture wherein we see that the problem is not that poor countries are exploited by the rich but that they are not. Many of the poorest countries have largely been excluded from world markets much to their disadvantage and the anti-globalization pack are making the plight of their citizens worse.

Wolf begins his book with a line: "Ideas matter". Let us hope for the sake of the world that his view (one that he shares with many thinking people) is the idea that matters.

This short summary hardly does justice to the book. Read it, and spread the word!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew R W Smithers on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This remarkable book should be read by all those who are interested in the future of the world and how the blessings enjoyed by rich nations could and should become general.

Martin Wolf explains how such progress depends on the spread of liberal capitalism and how this necessarily involves further globalization. He refutes with care and remarkable politeness the ill-considered arguments of his opponents.

The book?s outstanding quality derives from the author?s passionate goodwill for humanity and the controlled patience which he has brought to the rebuttal of arguments which are often exceedingly weak or even downright silly.

Being on the side of the angels is not enough to produce a great work but, as the author has the additional qualities of an incisive mind and elegant style, the result is a book which will increasingly be recognised as a classic.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Roxalane on August 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Reading Martin Wolf's explanation of globalization and why it works is like watching a master craftsman build an expensive, finely tuned watch. Wolf knows both the parts and the design intimately and shows how they were developed, how they fit together, and how they work. He also shows where and how flaws and incomplete assembly can result in a product that doesn' work at all.

This book is a must read not only for economists and policy wonks, but for the broader public striving to understand the world in which it lives.

After describing the nature of the debate now in train between globalists and anti-globalists, Wolf defines globalization as the organization of economic activity through markets and their ever greater integration across borders as both natural and man made barriers to international economic exchange fall. This inevitably, says Wolf, increases the impact of changes in one part of the world on what happens in other parts. While this process is driven by technological development that shrinks time and distance, Wolf does not accept the technological determinism that argues for the inevitability of globalization. If technology dictated policy, he says, liberalization would not be a policy but a destination. And he emphasizes the fact that the extensive globalization of the 19th century came to a grinding halt and was reversed by the polices and events that resulted in the two world wars and the Great Depression. Indeed, it took until the end of the 20th century to regain the level of globalization that prevailed at the end of the 19th century.

Wolf makes the case for market economics in terms of superior growth and productivity.
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