A clear explanation of why globalization is a boon to all countries.



A look at the benefits of globalization in the 21st century and earlier eras.

In this economics book, Goldberg, an adjunct professor at New York University and the author of The Joint Ventured Nation (2016), provides a concise overview of how economic and political globalization have worked throughout history, and how ideologically driven propaganda and the unequal distribution of benefits have shaped the perception of globalization in today’s United States. Goldberg begins his analysis by taking the long view, focusing on the dominance of the tomato in Italian cuisine, despite its South American origins, as an object lesson and a metaphor for the worldwide transmission of knowledge. The book explores the relative change in the United States’ and China’s positions in the world since 1980, with a particular focus on how both countries have seen economic growth as a result of greater interaction. However, Goldberg also points out that macroeconomic changes have not been evenly distributed across the population. The book explores how foreign investment has driven the U.S. economy since the country issued its first government bonds, as well as how restrictive tariffs have caused economic damage in the past. In the final chapter, the author addresses problems of governance and leadership that have obscured globalization’s benefits in America, identifying key features and trends that have allowed anti-globalization politicians to succeed in driving public opinion and policy.

Goldberg makes an effective argument on behalf of his thesis that globalization is ultimately a force for good, and that the populist objection to its growth is, in fact, damaging: “America’s enemy is not globalization; America’s enemy is America.” He does a fine job of explaining both the benefits and the inevitability of globalization, and he offers readers a useful framework for understanding the distinction between changes related to foreign trade and those related to technological advancement. The book provides a nuanced discussion of “the hard-to-understand but easily exploitable fact that global economics is not a zero-sum game,” while also acknowledging the valid complaints of those who are harmed by an evolving economy. Goldberg notes that there no easy solutions to the problems faced by displaced workers, and that this fosters populist, anti-globalization sentiment that provides no substantive relief. Readers who approach the topic from a populist perspective may wish that Goldberg had offered possible  solutions to displacement and job loss, instead of merely acknowledging that such problems exist. In addition, it’s surprising that the author does not include full citations for the many works that he references over the course of the text. That said, the book does provide enough general information about these sources to give readers confidence in them. On the whole, the book does an good job of distilling a complex issue into manageable components. The prose is strong, for the most part, and although a few analogies feel overwrought (“Northeast Philadelphia...had become a modern-day version of the battle of Agincourt”), it’s consistently informative and highly readable.

A clear explanation of why globalization is a boon to all countries.

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64012-301-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2020

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A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

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The CNN host and bestselling author delivers a pithy roundup of some of the inevitable global changes that will follow the current pandemic.

Examining issues both obvious and subtler, Zakaria sets out how and why the world has changed forever. The speed with which the Covid-19 virus spread around the world was shocking, and the fallout has been staggering. In fact, writes the author, “it may well turn out that this viral speck will cause the greatest economic, political, and social damage to humankind since World War II.” The U.S., in particular, was exposed as woefully unprepared, as government leadership failed to deliver a clear, practical message, and the nation’s vaunted medical institutions were caught flat-footed: "Before the pandemic…Americans might have taken solace in the country’s great research facilities or the huge amounts of money spent on health care, while forgetting about the waste, complexity and deeply unequal access that mark it as well." While American leaders wasted months denying the seriousness of Covid-19 and ignoring the advice of medical experts, other countries—e.g., South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan—acted swiftly and decisively, underscoring one of the author's main themes and second lesson: "What matters is not the quantity of government but the quality.” Discussing how “markets are not enough,” the author astutely shoots down the myth that throwing money at the problem can fix the situation; as such, he predicts a swing toward more socialist-friendly policies. Zakaria also delves into the significance of the digital economy, the resilience of cities (see the success of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei in suppressing the virus), the deepening of economic inequality around the world, how the pandemic has exacerbated the rift between China and the U.S. (and will continue to do so), and why “people should listen to the experts—and experts should listen to the people."

A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-54213-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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