61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2000
The book attempts to create a paradigm shift from the optimistic traditional American dream of hard work and reward, to the more pessimistic global reality of being displaced by big business as the social classes polarize. Greider takes on an immense task as he presents a macroeconomic view of the global economy, which he states has caused a decline in the standard of living for the average worker since 1974. His main argument is that the free running of global capitalism has recreated the conditions that preceded the Great Depression -- excess supplies of goods and labor, an expanding inequality of wealth, and social exploitation in the name of free market economics, which threatens global economic crisis and social revolution. As multinational firms fiercely complete for global market shares, they abandon the national interests of their home country and disregard any social obligation that does not promote short-term profits, including displacing or exploiting workers. Without multilateral intervention that would regulate global commerce and protect the rights of workers everywhere, a world economic and social crisis is inevitable.
Greider successfully illustrates the struggle between labor and capital: Organized labor's power to control wages and working conditions, which has traditionally been grounded in its ability to limit the supply of workers, has been decimated by the mobility of capital. In a global market, there will always be workers willing to accept a lower wage as opposed to no wage. As this Awage arbitrage@ forces earnings down, the middle class with disposable income will slowly disappear. Grader's argument of the economic model looks carefully at the demand side of the equation and asks -- who will buy the surplus if there is no middle class with disposable income? Capital driven by profits and quick returns at all costs are ignoring the fundamental relationship. Labor needs capital for income, and capital needs labor's income for profits and growth.
Greider also illustrates a breakdown in American democracy: A government no longer run by the people, but by big business, which makes government the broker of deals that only serves to further breakdown our domestic economy in the interest of the free-market.
59 of 69 people found the following review helpful
No one writes with more verve, insight, and human compassion than long-time Rolling Stone contributor and Editor William Greider. His perspective always centers on the human cost of social phenomena, and is always heartfelt, compassionate, and extremely well focused. In this book he centers in brilliantly on the ways in which the so-called "Third Wave" of global trading and commerce is poised to transform the social, economic, and political landscape of the countries in which it is being introduced. His writing skills are superb, and the ordinarily dry and stuffy stuff of economics come alive in this highly readable and quite entertaining work. In fact, reviewer Brink Lindsey of the Kirkus Review called this book "the best-written book on the global economy" he had ever read. Ditto, Mr. Lindsey, ditto.
I also agree with his observations calling the prose energized, clear, and sharp. However, I disagree with the negative criticism many other critics and reviewers have voiced concerning Mr. Greider's conclusions herein, which seem to center on the fact that he is not an apologist, fellow-traveler, or celebrant of the new global forces. Indeed, Mr. Greider's perspective is more sanguine, expressing concern of the many ways in which this fundamentally anti-democratic new commerce tends toward becoming a revolutionary & extraordinarily well-focused force literally power-hosing the new wealth generated by this commerce in the direction of the rich and well placed at the expense of almost everyone else.
Who can argue against the observation that we increasingly face an amazing conundrum when in face of the greatest sustained period of prosperity in the last forty years many people at the lower reaches of the socioeconomic spectrum are slipping farther and farther behind, that this prosperity is not acting to level the playing field, but, on the contrary is intensifying the distances and qualitative life styles of the affluent and the poor, or with the observation that consistently the indifferent, selfish and affluent conservative Republicans, ignoring the needs and problems of a majority of others, still demand a substantial tax refund for themselves at the expense of the rest of the populace? The truth speaks for itself in the sense that the governments of the world seem either uninterested or unable to regulate, limit, or meaningfully constrain the powers, policies, or dispositions of the multi-national corporations who now produce, distribute, and control the majority of the world's commercial efforts.
These corporations seem to be primarily motivated by motives much less socially responsive or oriented than they are profit-centered. Unless one actually believes in the silly, self-serving and patently ridiculous nonsense about Adam Smith's `invisible hand' of the market place, believing that somehow an unregulated and unconstrained world economy will automatically and magically manage and self-corrrect itself through the countervailing forces of the marketplace (can I sell you some of my old lottery tickets?), one must take heed of the plethora of examples one can readily observe concerning the changes in our social, economic, and political environment that stem from the effects of this new `global economy'.
In summary, Greider argues that the world is headed for a difficult & chaotic set of social & economic circumstances; disastrous levels of industrial plant overcapacity, unmanageable surplus goods, unemployable labor pools, frantic & often irrational stock speculation, unserviceable debts, and chronic massive unemployment. While all may seem to be wonderful to a casual observer watching along the surface, we are in fact skating bravely over the very thin ice of a totally new and revolutionary set of socioeconomic circumstances, and we should hardly be racing across this fragile and frozen expanse so quickly or so recklessly, trusting so blindly in so many anonymous corporate forces that historically have never bothered to concern themselves with the social, economic or political consequences following in the wake of their profit-oriented activities. Given the increasingly random & uncontrollable flow & use of capital, coming to terms with this emerging bulwark of the `new world order' will be increasingly problematic. His conclusions are similar to those of neo-Luddite authors like Sales Kirkpatrick and Theodore Roszak, who have come to similar conclusions about the increasingly serious situation emerging concerning a technical, commercial, and economic world spiraling out of control. In my opinion, Greider's book is a heaven-sent call to arms; the first issued by a mainstream social critic whose argument we would all do well to consider.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 1999
This book is a must read for anyone interested in learning about the global economy that runs our world today. This book does not have a story line or a plot, but it tells how our global economy works, and how it affects people's lives. The book is divided up into many different narratives. Having traveled the world and talked to factory workers, corporate CEOs, economists, and government officials, William Greider presents information with much insight and knowledge. Greider points out, the way multinational corporations are designed to work is not geared for what is best for national interests, but instead they are set up to take advantage of the free market. Greider tells it how it is. Multinational companies today are in a race to find the cheapest labor, and to become more effecient than their competitors. Multinationals are going into countries such as Malyasia and hiring poor, single females to manufacture computer chips and other goods. Just when these workers are starting to accumulate enough money to live on and feel like they are becoming productive, the company packs up and moves in hopes to become more productive elsewhere. Through the global economy and free market capitalism many people are being dehumanized and demoralized and are losing precious jobs to computer orchestrated robots. The globalization of many large companies has taken its toll on factory jobs in the US, and is a threat to middle-class lifestyle, as well as the social peace between the rich and poor countries of the world. Cheap labor and cheap production costs have created many product surpluses. Because of the surpluses the price of many goods has stayed status quo, or even dropped. The time we are in now is great for the consumer. Greider believes that the global economy is generating too much growth, and it is becoming hard for the free market to absorb. To find out a possible solution to this problem I suggest reading One World, Ready or Not.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 1999
One World Ready Or Not by William Greider details one very important subject, which effects all of our lives. Greider goes into detail on the world economy, and how, "global capitalism" is destroying the world slowly, and unknown. Greider traves the world to interview hundreds of people, and ask them about his subject. Although Greider seems to streth the information out too much, he goes into great detail so that one will not be misinformed. Each chapter in his book shows a different world of economic problems. From China to South America he tells of each countries economic story. I would highly recomend this book for those interested in the details of global capitalism, but warn readers of its difficulty to understand some of his beliefs. I give this book 4 stars, the only drawback being Greiders ability to get to the point without writing too much.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1998
Greider is clearly one of the very top liberal\populist economic analysts who writes for laypeople today. Greider proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that economic globalization as it is practiced today is fraught with contradictions and the potential for disaster. His book is simultaneously alarming and hopeful; the prospects for implementing his common sense reform proposals seem poor in the current conservative political atmosphere, meaning that global deregulation is sure to move even quicker now, causing new and frequent financial crises. The fundamental point in his book are sound: that an unequal income distribution, reinforced by the relocation of capital to low-wage areas, exacerbates a problem of inadequate aggregate demand, making recessions more likely. Greider is quite clear in his belief that a deflation of incomes, economies, and prices is the ultimate consequence of this fundamentally unjust new world economic order. To support his thesis, he takes the reader on a tour of a variety of places all over the globe, showing how, for example, the repression of labor rights in a place as far away as Indonesia contributes to a worsening of the wage-earning potential of first-world middle income workers. Greider is one of the few writers today who offers a genuinely humane and efficient economic vision that the world would be wise to follow. He suggests worker ownership of capital as a middle road between the inequities of capitalism and the disincentives of communism. He points out how transaction taxes on international capital flows would return stability to foreign exchange markets and, more importantly, national economies. He makes clear that the rule of finance capital, as manifest in high real interest rates, is only exacerbating the fundamental capitalist problems. (inadequate demand and excess capacity) Above all else, he makes apparent that economies, like all social institutions, are fundamentally human contrivances, and thus can be favorably altered by a populace with enough imagination to envision a more prosperous, equitable, and environmentally sustainable future. Greider is way left of almost anyone in D.C. today, but he is no communist, as is apparent from a reading of this book. All progressives should read this book, (though it is somewhat complex for those without prior exposure to economics) and use Greider's policy suggestions to pressure the political class to legislate real changes in our global economy so that we can create a more stable, equitable, sustainable, and democratic global community. As a final point, it is very heartening to see someone provide such plentiful evidence for what to me is a self-evident proposition: widely-shared prosperity requires genuine political democratization, everyone and anywhere in this tightly bound global economy.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is another one of those books that I picked up at a flea market for 50 cents. I had it sitting on a shelf for about six months before I finally took it down and read it. After I read the book I was so impressed, I felt that I wanted to tell the man personally how I felt. I found his web page and I sent him an email. He actually answered me. I then managed to sell the poor dude my two books "Hobo-ing America" and "A Summer with Charlie". I've got a copy of his check sitting in a file folder somewhere - of course I did cash it. This guy is great!. I have since read every book that he has written. If you want to know what is happening in the world economically, in simple, understandable, and entertaining language - this is your man. I keep checking Amazon to see if he's got another book coming out. I will buy it. I'm a Greider groupie!
I have read a few of the other reviews on this page, and I honestly don't know what book some of these folks actually read.
As I look at our world today, Mr. Greider appears to be a prophet. I think many of these reviewers should read this book once again and then write the man an apology. I am re-reading this book right now for the third time. Although this book was published in 1998 it is as relevant today as it was the the year that it was written. Do yourself a favor buy this book - and study it!
Richard Edward Noble - The Hobo Philosopher - Author of:
America on Strike - A survey of Labor strikes in America.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 1998
The book does have problems. However, I think it is thought provoking and I am not so sure that Grieder's depiction of Capital flows should be summarily dismissed by Forbe's journalists and MIT economists. These diatribes against Soros et al, I find particulary disturbing especially coming from these petty market syncophants...It makes me more suspicious that what we are really talking about is a religon, albeit an economic one. Anyone who makes 2 billion in 6 weeks, as Soros has done, has an opinion that I would like to hear about especially concerning Capital flows and their ability to do damge. There is obviously a change afoot when everyone consumes via some franchise or outlet. This is the reality of today. This is the America of today, this is the world Greider hints at, and this the future of the World he depicts. I don't think it should be ignored nor should the millions of slaves be ignored who make all this possible......And I don't think 40 million people have to do without health care in the country either....
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2009
I read this book as course material for an economics class. As a teaching document, it's well written and researched, especially if you are interested in the effects of multinational corporations and international financial institutions on the world's economy and nations (including countries like the United States).
There are four major sections of the book, which although written in 1997, addresses four interlocking aspects of the world economy and the multinational companies that are still running rampant today.
The first section observes that we are in a period of uncontrollable and dramatic change, and leads into a discussion of the major profitability problems faced by the larger multinational manufacturers today. This re-vitalized industrial period has caused commerce and finance to leap far beyond current traditional business methods and techniques, and the intensity of this change confuses and muddles political thought and renders some governments to the role of bystanders.
The book includes interesting stats like the fact that the 500 largest multinational companies have grown seven fold in size in recent years while employment (labor) has been flat.
Global companies have been investing capital internationally at an explosive rate for 25 years (as of 2009), and financial capital has been accelerating its movement around the world at a very fast pace - one not thought possible twenty years ago. Jack Welch observes in the mid-nineties "Things are going to get tougher... what lies ahead is a hurricane."
The rest of the book delves into the movement of manufacturing operations to Asian nations because of cheaper labor rates (American and European labor unions just don't publicly acknowledge that their high labor rates are killing their own domestic jobs), and the effects these multinationals have on Mexico and several of the primary Asian nations (e.g. Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, and others).
The manipulation and control of the financial speculators (people like George Soros) and the international banks have shown themselves to have had devastating effects on many nations, including the United States. Wall Street, in its drive for more money and higher interest rates, has shown that it is not always our friend.
So, if you want to learn about this `brave new world' as seen through the eyes of Mr. Greider, this is the book for you. Grieder, who lives in Washington, has written several other popular books, including "Who Will Tell The People?" which is an exploration into the destruction of our American democracy by our own government, which, by the way, no longer represents its own people.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2008
I read this book in 2001, and still remember clearly Grieders description of the end game he predicted (global deflation). The US kept the game going for longer than expected, by fueling debt growth greater than anticipated. Now its all falling apart. Very sad.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 1998
How refreshing it is that in a nation with a plethora of spin doctors we find a person who writes succinctly and without hyperebola about our current economic and political reality. While he does not give us any clear direction about what to do about unfettered global capitalism, he does give us access to information generally hidden by the media moguls about what has been happening in a seemingly irrational world. He does give us anecdotes to deregulation; but, I agree that they have little probability of happening.