An analytically thorough and thoughtful discussion of globalization that provides a helpful history and sensible policy...

THE UNITED STATES IN THE WORLD ECONOMY

MAKING SENSE OF GLOBALIZATION

An economist offers a scholarly appraisal of the ways in which the United States has benefited from—and been challenged by—the rise of globalization. 

An angry resistance to globalization has gathered much steam: Opposition to it has come from both sides of the political aisle, as evidenced by the dueling versions of populism in the 2016 presidential election. But while there have surely been costs incurred by the forces of globalization, argues Elson (The Global Financial Crisis in Retrospect, 2017, etc.), the gains have generally outweighed them and been unjustly neglected. The author scrupulously assesses the “trio of globalization forces”—the increase in the flow of goods and services, labor, and capital across international borders. He demonstrates the ways in which the United States has been a beneficiary of these trends, unsurprisingly because it has “played a pre-eminent role in establishing the institutional arrangements that have guided the process of globalization.” In fact, the world financial crisis of 2008 is largely not the consequence of unrestrained globalization but rather the result of breakneck technological change, pervasive fraud, reckless financial speculation, and inadequacies across the regulatory spectrum. Elson briefly but astutely charts the history of globalization up until this age of discontent and describes the ways in which it has and has not contributed to real problems like socio-economic inequality. Ultimately, the author contends that the old “social compact” that prepared the advent of globalization has been destroyed and needs to be replaced with one that addresses inequality through new and more active labor policies and the promotion of investment to those regions that have been the most adversely affected by the world economy. Elson is an international economist with an impressive resume—he’s a “career official” at the International Monetary Fund—and that wealth of experience is evident in both his expertise and rigor. He covers a remarkable swath of intellectual terrain concisely, impressively combining analytical meticulousness with striking breadth. The author also manages to comment with great clarity on a number of topical issues, including the debate in America regarding immigration and pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

An analytically thorough and thoughtful discussion of globalization that provides a helpful history and sensible policy recommendations. 

Pub Date: June 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-03-020687-1

Page Count: 227

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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