The failure of globalization to produce a win-win world is at the heart of this brisk history of global economics in the last half century.
In his anecdotal debut, Financial Times chief foreign affairs columnist Rachman breaks up recent world history into three unique periods—the “Age of Transformation” (1978–91), the “Age of Optimism” (1991–2008) and the current “Age of Anxiety”—chronicling the behaviors of economic elites responsible for the global economic meltdown. It makes a complex subject accessible and entertaining, but also a bit frivolous. We are now faced with major problems like climate change, terrorism and imbalanced trade; no global entity to deal with these problems; the growing confidence of authoritarian regimes like Russia and China; and “the threat of a new wave of failed states.” In order to battle this zero-sum world, Rachman advises us to “keep calm and carry on,” and to not dwell on fear-driven international rivalries but instead to focus on global co-operation, “win-win” economic growth and hearty values. The author does not provide a thorough analysis of historical mechanisms, but rather a brief history of the global haute bourgeoisie over the past 50 years. Most readers will agree that the economies of authoritarian regimes like China have risen since dramatically during the Age of Optimism, but how will China eventually become powerful enough to challenge the economic supremacy of the United States? Rachman may not trust economists to predict the future, but he should have addressed he nexus between blatant fear-mongering and economic reality.
Mostly entertaining but ultimately inconsequential.