BOOKCASE : Making Globalization Work

• Joseph Stiglitz • Penguin Allen Lane • $39.95

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz, is, through strenuous promotional efforts and impeccable timing, currently “hot”. The former World Bank chief economist and academic darling of the liberal left has been circumnavigating the globe promoting his second book on globalisation – and he tells convincing story.
His work, as kicked off four years ago in his best selling Globalization and its Discontents, is cautionary tale. Actually, this first book was more of horror story. It was the one that had the anti-globalisation lobby punching the sky, shouting ‘Yes!’ – as if they’d found the high-profile, and very well credentialled champion, of their cause. The sequel, Making Globalization Work, provides the qualifications that make the two together cautionary tale.
No question Stiglitz has reservations about the rapid pace and lack of real game plan for globalisation. He provides graphic accounts of just how badly it has been and is still being implemented, mainly to the disadvantage of already dreadfully disadvantaged nations – such as those on the African continent.
The value of this sequel rests with the problem solving and constructive approach Stiglitz takes to addressing the problems created by rapidly accelerating globalisation. An outspoken critic of the institutions for whom he worked, he advocates reform of the UN, World Bank and the IMF and suggests new ways of “dealing with the crippling indebtedness” of developing countries, confronting global warming, curtailing the actions of corporates bent on shaping globalisation to their ends and suggesting how to make trade ‘fair’.
Globalisation is reality the world must learn to cope with. According to Stiglitz, that means managing (the pro-cess) better and having greater concern for poor countries, the poor in rich countries and for the values that go beyond profits and GDP. The problem is “democratic deficit” in the way globalisation has been managed. In other words, the international institutions entrusted with writing the rules of the game reflect the interests of advanced countries or special interests. That state of affairs must change if globalisation is to work in the interests of the whole world. Stiglitz is not anti markets. Just anti vested interest exploitation. To his mind, fair and enlightened capitalism is an economic necessity.
A thoughtful, informed and fascinatingly readable book that every senior executive should read and seriously consider. – Reg Birchfield

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