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.