The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy

In this cogent, well-written book, Rodrik, a Harvard economist, critiques unalloyed globalization enthusiasts, taking aim at their desire to fully liberalize foreign trade and capital movements. While acknowledging that extensive engagement with the world economy can produce higher material standards of living, he worries that the unintended side effects may create unwanted and even unnecessary social distress. He is also offended by the empirical casualness of the arguments sometimes advanced in support of liberalization. There are in fact many paths to development, he argues, and democratic societies should be free to exercise their collective preferences without having the institutional and policy preferences of outsiders thrust upon them. (Nondemocracies should not necessarily be given the same latitude.) Unfortunately, Rodrik does not apply the same scrutiny to how decisions are actually made in democracies -- through, for example, the manipulation of public opinion by elites -- that he does to the arguments concerning different paths to development.

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