Globaphobia: Confronting Fears About Open Trade; Has Globalization Gone Too Far?

In This Review

Globaphobia: Confronting Fears About Open Trade

By Gary Burtless et al.
Brookings, 1998
162 pp. $36.95
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Has Globalization Gone Too Far?

By Dani Rodrik
Institute for International Economics, 1997
128 pp. $21.95
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Globalization has become a buzzword, both as a fact 0f life and as a source of anxiety. Many of society's real and imagined ills are now blamed on it. The first book aims to debunk in layman's terms some of the fallacies that have become almost conventional wisdom, for example that a large trade surplus signifies extensive, even if invisible, restrictions on imports. It also seeks to expose the weak empirical support for some potentially valid concerns about globalization, for example that imports from developing countries bear a substantial responsibility for depressing U.S. wages.

The second book, more technically demanding, is sympathetic to the notion that globalization has significantly changed the structure of open economies. In particular, it has reduced the bargaining power of low-skill American labor and has increased the uncertainties that relatively immobile workers must face everywhere. Rodrik's response to his book's provocative title is that openness conveys major economic rewards, but that societies should -- indeed, for political reasons must -- be sensitive to the actual and potential losers in an increasingly competitive environment that compels change, and be attentive to preserving their distinctive social values and institutions.