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Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy Hardcover – October 31, 2017
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From the Back Cover
"All economists should read Straight Talk on Trade to appreciate how their own models are often richer than their policy advice. And all noneconomists should read this book to appreciate how much economics has to offer on the biggest questions of growth and inequality. The length of this book belies its stunning scope, ranging from developed to developing countries, the past to the present, and political science to economics. Dani Rodrik's eclectic methodology and advice support his unwavering, optimistic belief that economic ideas can and should help people shape their destinies."--Jason Furman, Harvard Kennedy School and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers
"There is a ton of erudition and not an ounce of orthodoxy in this compact, incisive book. Dani Rodrik analyzes policy like an economist and analyzes economics like a philosopher. The net effect is a disarmingly fresh and penetrating set of insights on national self-determination, fair versus free trade, and the rich interplay between markets, governments, and individual identity in sustaining stable nation-states. Arguing for a rethinking and rebalancing of the teetering project of globalization, Rodrik offers something to delight and offend every reader."--David Autor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Dani Rodrik is one of the most original thinkers today on economics and development. In Straight Talk on Trade, he explains why there is so much discontentment with the multilateral system, and offers interesting proposals for how we might preserve what is good about it. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the roots of populist nationalism and the widespread angst in industrial societies today."--Raghuram Rajan, University of Chicago
"Straight Talk on Trade presents a straightforward and readable agenda to make globalization serve democracy rather than undermine it, while avoiding the populist remedies being hawked by politicians today."--Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University
"Amongst today's mainstream economists, there is a cottage industry of experts rationalizing the backlash against globalization. Dani Rodrik was one of the very few who warned about this backlash at least a decade in advance when the world was in thrall to the globalization fetish. A terrific guide to understanding this swinging pendulum, Straight Talk on Trade offers sensible suggestions on how not to love globalization if we are to preserve its many undeniable benefits."--Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser to the Government of India
"Straight Talk on Trade looks at the possibility that the world has proceeded too hastily with globalization and emphasized globalization of the wrong kind. Dani Rodrik contends that we have neglected notions of national sovereignty at our peril, and his knowledge, sources, methods, and arguments are all first-rate and battle-tested."--Tyler Cowen, author of The Complacent Class
"Not many economists are able to make astute observations about economics and politics based not only on professional knowledge but also on common sense. And only a few can speak at once to the academic economist, the economics student, applied economists, and intelligent readers outside the field. In Straight Talk on Trade, Dani Rodrik accomplishes this and more."--Ariel Rubinstein, Tel Aviv University and New York University
About the Author
Dani Rodrik is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science and The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy.
Top customer reviews
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Building upon his main ideas from "The Globalization Paradox", Rodrik presents the academic work himself and others have done in development, trade and political economy to support his arguments. I enjoyed the section which highlighted the unappreciated role ideology plays in political economy, in addition to self-interest (which receives much of the attention) as well as the distinction between liberal and "illiberal" democracy. The book is as much politics as it is economics. And like Rodrik's previous books, the writing was readable and engaging.
I would recommend this book to the interested layperson, poli sci and econ undergrads and the general public. However, professional economists may be underwhelmed if they are already familiar with Rodrik's work.
After about 100 pages I wondered about the intended audience because the nature of the presentation changed from chapter to chapter, subject to subject. It was all very well presented and I learned about areas of the globe where knowledge was scant, or where I had chosen not to learn.
Overall the book is a considered, thoughtful view of the global landscape of which trade is a part. The tone is counsel from an insightful, knowledgeable observer who is willing to identify and describe the challenging issues, seemingly unsolvable dilemmas, ask tough questions, and offer a few prescriptions. Unfortunately, as noted in the first sentence, the solutions come down to politics, power structures, and vested interests.
I recommend the book with the proviso that if you do a lot of reading, many (but not all) insights have either been expressed in other places or you have figured them out yourself. It’s a 5 star book if you wish an overview on the current politics that affect global economics and trade, 4 star if you are into reading about global politics. For me, 4.
The transformation of countries like Japan, South Korea or China into highly developed, internationally competitive economies was the result of initially very authoritarian, strategic state interventions into the development process and not of unfettered market forces. These interventions were unfailingly accompanied by much corruption, cronyism and social inequalities. Further progress and future competitiveness will depend on permitting greater transparency and democratic accountability. Enlightened leaders will allow these to develop in order to fend off political upheaval and gain prolonged rule. But undue intrusion by external powers or international organizations that do not take into account national idiosyncrasies will often prove counterproductive and provoke fierce backlash.
This is an excellent book. It should be recommended reading at the WTO, World Bank, IMF, OECD and EU commission.