Jagdish N. Bhagwati is Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and is on leave from Columbia University. He is the author of A Stream of Windows: Unsettling Reflections on Trade, Immigration, and Democracy (1998).
If you thought globalization is the fastest-growing phenomenon today, think again. Books about globalization are. A Future Perfect is only the latest in a torrent of writings on the subject, chief among them being The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman. Yet it stands as one of the rare exceptions to the law of diminishing marginal utility; its many merits far outweigh the sense of déjà vu that afflicts most books taking yet another look at globalization.
It is not just that Micklethwait and Wooldridge (both of The Economist) write gloriously. As journalists, they have learned the art of making a point vividly by buttressing it with an apt anecdote, a striking interview, or a telling quote. Yet the book's substance is what really makes it stand out. The authors neatly sketch and defend globalization, examine its pitfalls, and analyze how to avoid them. Given such an overwhelming agenda, they cannot hope to paint on this immense canvas without incurring minor blemishes of detail and errors of judgment. But judged in its entirety, with all its ambition and achievement, the book is a spectacular success.
The authors' predilection for free markets makes them skeptical of the many populist critiques of globalization. Yet they often manage to turn these critiques on their head to show the exact opposite -- that globalization can work to lift overall prosperity and reduce poverty. Indeed, Micklethwait and Wooldridge are at their most eloquent and persuasive when they broaden the scope of their case to include liberty and democracy as globalization's additional benefits.
Then again, since the authors are historians by education, they are aware that globalization had been halted in the past and that it can run into rough weather again as it did in the first half of the twentieth century. Therefore, they analyze at length the nature of growing antiglobalization sentiments, which in turn leads them to suggest how globalization should be "managed" if it is to survive and deliver on
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