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

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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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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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