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Speed Review: A Future Perfect

Speed Review: A Future Perfect

Speed Review: A Future Perfect

The Challenge and Hidden Pursuit of Globalization

by Adrian Wooldridge & John Micklethwait

Micklethwait and Wooldridge, correspondents for The Economist, offer a lengthy, wide-ranging defense of globalization. Yes, there are losers, the authors write. But there are more winners than losers in all parts of the world.


Just What's So Bad About the Global Economy?
In books ranging from The Lexus and the Olive Tree to Pop Internationalism to Mollie's Job, scores of journalists and economists have been offering their varied explanations and descriptions of the effects of globalization. While some, such as economist Paul Krugman, insist that globalization is overhyped, most observers agree that globalization is dramatically changing the way people in all parts of the world live and work. They differ, however, on whether this change is for the good or the bad.

Enriching the World
In A Future Perfect, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, correspondents for The Economist, weigh in with a lengthy, wide-ranging defense of globalization, taking on, one by one, the objections of global skeptics.

In general, the authors write, globalization enriches the world, notably by bringing the freedom and opportunity of technology to far-flung - and suffering - places and people. Yes, there are losers, the authors admit, but what is more important is that there are many more winners than losers. "The case studies always seem to involve a shuttered textile factory in South Carolina," write the authors, "never a young African child sitting at a computer; always a burning Amazonian forest, never a young Brazilian investment banker; always The Lion King or the Spice Girls, never the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao." The authors further insist that if there are losers, globalization is probably being blamed in place of the real causes of the problems. For example, decades of corrupt African dictators, not globalization, is to blame for the distressed state of that continent.

Effective Counterarguments
The authors offer many effective counterarguments to those who too easily blame globalization for the ills of the world. Yes, American manufacturing jobs are being lost, the authors write, but those jobs are being replaced by service jobs - well-paying service jobs. And globalization does not necessarily mean the death of local culture. Hollywood dominates the world because it does a better job than domestic film industries of making movies that people want to see. The most popular television shows, on the other hand, remain local.

The authors sometimes dismiss too easily the concerns raised by globalism. There is little here about environmental concerns, for example.

And in the same way that others blame globalization for all ills, the authors seem to blame government for anything that goes wrong. There's no evidence, for example, that global education companies will necessarily do a better job than local education departments.

In the end, however, A Future Perfect is an opinionated, expansive, learned riff that will have you thinking and rethinking about what the global economy means to the world. There is much material here that deserves to be considered - before you draw your own conclusions.