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Why Globalization Works

Why Globalization Works

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The author, a Financial Times editor, makes a conventional economist's argument for globalization that is not likely to convince many skeptics. His faith is that growth and everything else good comes from "the market," while any problems with globalization must be the fault of governments. Wolf doesn't consider that economic processes redistribute power and therefore transform politics and the possibilities of government action. Like so many economists, he analyzes primarily aggregate statistics: gray averages. For example, using aggregate figures he argues that workers in rich countries are paid more because they are much more productive than workers in poor countries are. Thus high-paid workers need not fear that competition from low-paid workers will undermine their economic security. The reason, he explains, is that workers in developed countries work, on average, with far less capital per worker. While this is true in aggregate, for a particular transnational firm deciding whether to locate a new factory in Shanghai or Chicago, the difference in productivity will rarely be as great as the wage differential. Therefore, as long as other costs and risks do not overwhelm the benefit of cheaper labor, there is a long-term tendency for investment and jobs to flow toward low-wage countries. Wolf neglects the profound consequences of relative labor immobility (because of immigration restrictions and cultural barriers) compared with the mobility of products, many services and capital, one of the characteristic features of contemporary globalization.
2New Ed edition