Global prosperity is just around the corner, says Atlantic Monthly and New Republic contributing editor Easterbrook (The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, 2003, etc.) in this upbeat view of the coming benefits of globalization.
The immediate economic outlook may seem gloomy, he writes, but history shows that whenever a trend like the rising prosperity of the past three decades is interrupted, the trend resumes. In this readable but slight, repetitive book, Easterbrook maintains that globalization has just gotten under way and will usher in a “hectic, high-tech, interconnected world” where most nations will enjoy the free-market advantages of the West. Most people’s lives will be better, but the tremendous pressures of constant change will foster stress, anxiety and dissatisfaction. The author offers striking examples of globalization at work: the extraordinarily busy young port of Shenzhen, China; the burgeoning high-tech zone of the former factory town Waltham, Mass., and a Chinese home-appliance manufacturer’s opening of its North American headquarters in sleepy Camden, S.C. Now notable, such outcomes will become commonplace, he writes, as global forces advance the spread of economic growth, a global middle class, free economics, democracy, technical progress, education, urbanization and entrepreneurialism. As it moves from the Factory Age to “a Sonic Boom era dominated by desk jobs and education,” the world will provide higher-quality, less-expensive goods for all, as well as more competition and economic turmoil, compounded by the effects of climate change. There will also be more inequality of wealth as ideas become more valuable than labor and resources. While his prognostications are provocative, Easterbrook devotes much of the narrative to making familiar observations on the increasing stressfulness of modern life, the importance of education and ideas in an information-driven society and the need to be prepared for frequent job changes and hybrid careers. He also uses too many annoying cutesy terms, such as “Super Bowl of stress.”
A disappointing update on globalization that nonetheless offers hope for the recession-mired.