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The Road to Global Prosperity Hardcover – March 25, 2014
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Coming off his best-seller That Used to Be Us (2011), cowritten with Thomas L. Friedman, Mandelbaum makes the case that globalization is a good thing and will lead to greater prosperity for everyone across the board. At least that’s what he claims the spread of free-market economies will produce in the long run. In the meantime, he spends most of the book describing the pitfalls and challenges that the world is facing and has faced for the past two decades: financial bubbles and meltdowns like the 2007–08 financial crisis initiated by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, major disruptions to the job market caused by outsourcing, the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming, and the troubled history of the euro with the spread of debt contagion in Europe. Despite all these obstacles, Mandelbaum maintains that global economic expansion and cooperation will supplant war as countries like Brazil, China, India, and Russia come to realize more and more how their financial future is interdependent on the prosperity of others. Evidently, we’ll all be the richer for it. --David Siegfried
“[A] very original take on this story. . . Michael Mandelbaum. . . argues that while global economics does not eliminate geopolitics, it does indeed trump global geopolitics today.” (Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times)
“Lucid and thought-provoking” (The Financial Times)
"A concise, insightful and readable stock-taking of the state of globalization roughly five years after the financial crisis began." (The Wall Street Journal)
"An incisive assessment of the political problems underlying our increasingly integrated world economy. ... All readers ... will admire his firm grasp of economics and history, his startling analogies—for example, comparing the study of economics to the science of seismology—and his smooth, genial delivery of complex information." (Kirkus Reviews)
“This short book tells you everything—well, almost everything—you need to know about globalization, including its upsides, its downsides, and why the former will triumph over the latter. Read it for understanding, for encouragement, and for a better idea of what the future is likely to hold.” (Alan Blinder, author of After the Music Stopped)
“Politics and economics are often discussed separately. But in the real world they are intertwined, just as they are in Michael Mandelbaum's lucid study. For anyone wishing to understand the political forces that underpin and shape the global economy, there could be no better guide.” (Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow in International Economics, The Council on Foreign Relations)
“If you are interested in the future of geopolitics and international economics, this book is for you. Whatever the current issue—military tensions in Asia, trade negotiations across the Atlantic, post-crisis financial reforms, China’s emergence—The Road to Global Prosperity provides a clear and compelling framework for anticipating where, how and why stronger growth will emerge around the world.” (Jeffrey E. Garten, Juan Trippe Professor of International Trade and Finance, Yale School of Management)
“Both advocates and detractors of globalization will find plenty of fodder in this book by a Johns Hopkins University international studies professor.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
“[Mandelbaum] explores the central role of politics in nurturing or debilitating the market…[he] pens lucid overviews of everything from comparative advantage to the Eurozone crisis” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Road to Global Prosperity, points out something that may seem obvious but is nonetheless important and underappreciated… The book is enlivened by Professor Mandelbaum's prose and by his eye for a useful metaphor.” (FutureOfCapitalism.com)
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The first fault line is made up of the “global public goods” that any economy needs to function smoothly. American military power, the political legitimacy of market capitalism and cross-border economic transactions as well the unprecedented illegitimacy of war, have provided together the necessary protection for cross-border trade, investment, and immigration. To his credit, Mr. Mandelbaum warns against the domestic considerations that could undermine the future deployment of American military power abroad as well as the possible reemergence of war as a normal practice to systematically settle human conflicts. The alternatives to the international economy, i.e. the import-substituting industrialization and centrally planned communism, have been thoroughly discredited.
The second fault line represents another conflict of interests that opposes the winners and losers from the cross-border movement of money, people, and goods / services. The author comes to the conclusion that of the three cross-border flows, trade in goods and services should be the least controversial because of the principle of comparative advantage. Mr. Mandelbaum is not very convincing on this subject. As Erik Reinert clearly demonstrates in his book “How Rich Countries Got Rich . . . and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor,” David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage in international trade relies on a number of simplistic, abstract assumptions that too often lock poor countries into specializing in being poor.
The third fault line runs through the domestic politics of what the author calls the trilateral countries of the West: The United States, Japan, and the nations of Western Europe. Mr. Mandelbaum does a good job in examining their respective attitude towards the cross-border movement of money, people, and goods / services. In the current third era of global economic integration, these trilateral countries have achieved significantly lower growth rates than the poorer countries.
The fourth and last fault line cuts across the domestic affairs of the BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The world’s rate of economic growth will depend heavily on the capacity of these four countries to fulfill their large economic potential. The author convincingly shows that Brazilian populism, Russian energy, Indian democracy, and Chinese autocracy could significantly interfere with their respective economic performance.
Despite the disruptions that emanate from these four fault lines, Mr. Mandelbaum remains optimistic about the technological, economic, and political momentum of globalization in the coming decades.
Also the foot notes even though plenty and informative (also up to date) are in the back of the book. So you will find yourself constantly going to the back of the book. I suggest that you use a book mark.
This is just one of a great series of books written by Michael Mandelbaum. It is as good a place to start as any.
The book title tells the thrust of what you are about to read and it is addressing that. At the time of this review the information is up-to-date on how the economy is likely to work and not just stale theories of how it ought to work. Michael has a refreshing viewpoint; no matter your economic background you will still come away with a different viewpoint to ponder.
That was the good news.
The book goes on to examine a range of potential threats to prosperity. Many of them are political.
There's the risk of what Professor Mandelbaum calls Wilhelmine China, the chance that a rising China might enter conflict with the United States the way that Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm did with Great Britain. China, he writes, "needs better-defined and more secure property rights."
There's the risk of corruption in Russia, where one think tank estimated that in 2005 "bribes accounted for fully 20 percent of the country's GDP," rising from "$33 billion when Putin came to power to more than $400 billion at the end of his second presidential term in 2008."
Professor Mandelbaum, who teaches at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, has a particularly acute understanding of immigration. He appreciates its growth effects — a rough estimate is that "lifting all restrictions on immigration worldwide" could double global economic output. He also grasps the way the politics of immigration split elites from the rest of society. He gives the example of a book by a German central bank governor, Thilo Sarrazin, who argued for immigration restrictions. It sold more than a million copies in a few months, but also got Sarrazin fired.
The book is enlivened by Professor Mandelbaum's prose and by his eye for a useful metaphor. "Dealing with the debt crisis by forging a pan-European political union," he writes, "resembles revising the fire code while the building is burning: worthy and constructive, no doubt, but not an answer to the immediate problem."
The book concludes with another metaphor, predicting that the global economy "will not come to a halt, veer sharply off the road, or hurtle into a fatal collision." Instead the ride will continue — "bumpy," but on an "upward path," largely because "there is no attractive alternative to free markets."
Professor Mandelbaum predicts that the economic shocks in the years ahead will "happily, fall far short" of the damages of World Wars I and II, of the Great Depression, and even of the 2008 economic crisis. Let's hope he's right.