A distinguished analyst of international affairs looks at the future of the global economy and discovers mostly good news.
Mandelbaum (American Foreign Policy/Johns Hopkins Univ.; The Frugal Superpower: America’s Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era, 2010, etc.) concedes the difficulty of accurate predictions, but he insists we know enough now about how the global economy works to identify the forces likely to shape it. He takes it as a given that, notwithstanding a backward step or two, the global economy will continue to grow if we can overcome political obstacles that stand in the way of prosperity. He begins by discussing global security, essential to the growth of free markets, and the continuing, if somewhat diminished, role of the United States as enforcer. With governments agreed that their legitimacy depends on delivering prosperity to their people, Mandelbaum discounts the likelihood of major wars. Indeed, he sees global warming as a more likely long-term threat to global security. He continues his tour of troublesome issues, all of which have their roots in politics, looking at trends shaping the cross-border flow of goods, money and people—immigration, he insists, is “the greatest underutilized resource for the promotion of global economic growth”—with particular emphasis on the internal problems likely to nag the European Union and the so-called BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India and China. While the author is careful not to underestimate the backlash to the progress he foresees—e.g., Europe resisting greater immigration, America shying away from its military burden—many will find his forecast entirely too sanguine. All readers, though, will admire his firm grasp of economics and history, his startling analogies—for example, comparing the study of economics to the science of seismology—and his smooth, genial delivery of complex information.
An incisive assessment of the political problems underlying our increasingly integrated world economy.