Never before have we stood to gain or lose as much from understanding the international economy. Scandals plague the world's largest corporations, the American trade deficit has soared to historic heights, and international organizations from the World Bank to the WTO are accused of being inefficient and corrupt. Is our global economy as unhealthy, and as unjust, as we think? And what can be done about it?
At this critical juncture, George Soros, a major proponent of globalization, takes to task the many institutions that have failed to keep pace with our global economy. At the same time, he offers a compelling new paradigm to bring the institutions and the economy back into necessary alignment. Economics are amoral, he argues -- but neither our society nor our economy can afford to function without a distinct system of right and wrong. As we look toward the future and wonder what's ailing our economy, where our jobs are going, and whether the power of economics can be harnessed for positive changes, this thoroughly updated edition of George Soros on Globalization is a report no citizen of the world can do without.
Financial mastermind Soros (The Alchemy of Finance, etc.) has made his mark as a philanthropist with a progressive foreign policy, fostering open societies. He equates globalization with "the free movement of capital and the increasing domination of national economies by global financial markets and multinational corporations." In this treatise, he explains how his vision to "make global capitalism more stable and equitable" acknowledges that antiglobalization protesters have a case against the mainstream consensus that the market works well. Instead of dismantling existing international financial and trade institutions, though, Soros suggests reform. Market fundamentalists, he says, are unwilling to modify existing institutions to create a level playing field; moreover, they're loath to create institutions to foster social goals like reducing poverty. Protestors, he observes, are "strangely blind" to the need to improve the quality of government and public life in poorer countries. Soros's suggested method provides aid that will "enable, encourage, and reinforce" voluntary compliance with international standards relating to environment, education and labor. His proposal? The richer countries in the IMF issue Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) for international assistance i.e., international reserve assets a process that shares the burden equitably, with the United States paying its fair share. A board of "eminent persons" chooses who's eligible for assistance, and a separate audit commission evaluates those chosen. After September 11, Soros notes in conclusion, Americans must recognize the world's precarious interdependence. Soros has an admirable track record and the virtue of hindsight (his foundations have done innovative work and his take on what could have been done in Russia over the past decade is compelling). This dry but vital book deserves attention and debate.