- Series: Norton Paperback
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 17, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780393324396
- ISBN-13: 978-0393324396
- ASIN: 0393324397
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 141 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton Paperback) Paperback – April 17, 2003
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“Accessible, provocative and highly readable. … Brings an insider's insights into the crises of the 1990s and beyond, from East Asia to Russia and on to Argentina.”
- New York Times
About the Author
Joseph E. Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize–winning economist and the best-selling author of The Great Divide, Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy, The Price of Inequality, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy, and Globalization and Its Discontents. He is a columnist for the New York Times and Project Syndicate and has written for Vanity Fair, Politico, The Atlantic, and Harper’s. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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What worries me more is Stiglitz' lack of attention to a couple of notorious facts about the WB and IMF. He mentions them and then goes on to other things. First, these agencies have routinely supported the most unspeakably brutal and murderous dictatorships: Marcos in the Philippines, Mobutu in Zaire (now Congo), Rios Montt in Guatemala, the thugs of Sudan, the military junta in Indonesia, and on and on. They continued to do this for years after it became general knowledge that these regimes were using the loans, and other aid, to line their pockets and to buy weapons to suppress their own people--and then they ran down their countries' health and education systems to pay back the loans. This wasn't economic theory at work and it wasn't ignorance. We still need a serious study of this. The notorious lack of accountability, stressed by Stiglitz, has to be remedied.
Second, the World Bank in particular, and now the WTO also, have routinely gone up against the environment--though they know perfectly well that everyone, and especially the poor in the Third World, depends on the environment for survival. A highly-placed World Bank researcher (necessarily unnamed here!) told me some time ago that the World Bank's own studies show that all their big-dam projects cost more than they produce in benefits. The costs are born by the poor (especially those displaced by the reservoirs). The benefits largely go to the rich. The WTO's policies on "free" trade are notorious; they tolerate without protest the enormous subsidies that First World governments give their farmers (as pointed out by Stiglitz) but they won't bend a millimetre to protect forests, fish, and wildlife that are vital to the survival of Third World poor. We need a much better study and account of all this.
Whatever is going on in the non-transparent boardrooms of these agencies, the effect has been to keep the Third World in its classic position: an impoverished supplier of raw materials to the First World. The worst thing about the WB-IMF-WTO policy mix is that it routinely leads to the sacrifice not only of the environment but also of long-term investments like education. Without an educated workforce, the Third World is doomed to permanent poverty and backwardness. Everybody knows this, but the policies go on.
I wish Stiglitz, or someone, would take all this on.
He describes how the World Bank, with himself at the helm, tried to accomplish it's historical purpose -- to spread prosperity and help facilitate trade, not looting. He described some brilliant and compassionate leaders and economists he worked with.
But until recently, it's been Paul Wolfowitz in charge of what Stiglitz used to do. Woe be unto all of us.
The IMF policies had disastrous humanitarian consequences and Stiglitz makes it clear that, for the most part, these were gratuitous rather than part of the necessary cost of healing sick economies. To be fair, development is a very young discipline and Stiglitz does not sufficiently recognize how difficult it is to come up with good macroeconomic policies for developing nations. But Stiglitz is not commenting as a Monday morning quarterback; him and others warned the IMF of the consequences while the crises were underway. Stiglitz's book is an important lesson and he writes compellingly.
Why not to give 5 stars?
*It did not contain the academic rigor I was expecting from such insightful economist.
*Some parts of certain chapters the conversation gets repetitious.