Globalisation and its Discontents review

The headline in the Cape Times today was ‘SA farming on knife-edge’. The article goes on to explain that because our food markets have been opened up to the rest of the world, our farmers face competition from countries which subsidise their agriculture and there is no way we can compete against that. This is a product of globalisation. Coincidentally, the book I have just finished reading is all about exactly this.

The author of Globalisation and its Discontents knows what he is talking about. From an illustrious academic career, Joseph Stiglitz became the chief economic advisor for the Clinton administration and then moved on to become head economist at the World Bank, during which time he won the Nobel prize for economics. He saw first hand the policies of the IMF, WTO and the World Bank and saw the effect those policies had on countries, regions and in some cases the world.

It makes for very interesting reading. Unlike a lot of books on globalisation, it doesn’t go into detailed illustrations of how developed countries and global corporates are raping developing countries, although it does mention that. Instead it is looking mainly at the role of the IMF in globalisation. Being an economist, Joseph Stiglitz focuses on economic situations, how they came about, how they were addressed and whether it was good or bad.

The book is not overly complicated but it’s not the easiest read. He does explain the economic terms he uses eg. fiscal policy and monetary policy and trade deficits and all that. But he only explains it once, so if you’re not concentrating you could find yourself needing to do some revision.

He is not anti globalisation, but feels that the costs will outweigh the benefits if it is not done properly. I see that he has a follow up book called Making Globalization Work, which should also be interesting reading. Globalization and its Discontents is not a thick book and it’s very reasonably priced, especially at the sale. I would recommend getting yourself a copy if this topic interests you.

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