from Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

In Defense of Globalization

March 1, 2004

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

An internationally renowned economist, Jagdish Bhagwati takes conventional wisdom—that globalization is the cause of several social ills—and turns it on its head. Properly regulated, globalization, he says, is the most powerful force for social good in the world.

Drawing on his unparalleled knowledge of international economics, Bhagwati dismantles the antiglobalization case. He persuasively argues that globalization often leads to greater general prosperity in an underdeveloped nation: it can reduce child labor, increase literacy, and enhance the economic and social standing of women. And to counter charges that globalization leads to cultural hegemony, to a bland "McWorld," Bhagwati points to several examples, from literature to movies, in which globalization has led to a spicy hybrid of cultures.

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Often controversial and always compelling, Bhagwati cuts through the noise on this most contentious issue, showing that globalization is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Anyone who wants to understand what's at stake in the globalization wars will want to read In Defense of Globalization.

The first edition of In Defense of Globalization addressed the critiques that concerned the social implications of economic globalization. Thus, it addressed questions such as the impact on women's rights and equality, child labor, poverty in the poor countries, democracy, mainstream and indigenous culture, and the environment. Professor Bhagwati concluded that globalization was, on balance, a force for advancing these agendas as well. Thus, whereas the critics assumed that globalization lacked a human face, it actually had a human face. He also examined in depth the ways in which policy and institutional design could further advance these social agendas, adding more glow to the human face. This book therefore was unique in treating with serious scholarship and a sympathetic attitude the true concerns that animated and agitated the many critics of globalization.

By now, however, the social concerns that Professor Bhagwati addressed have been augmented in the rich countries such as the U.S., France, and Germany, by growing concerns over the economic implications of globalization, i.e., by concerns over the wages of the working and the middle classes. Thus, whereas the social concerns were prompted by altruism and empathy, the economic concerns have been the result of fear and self-interest. In his Afterword for the new edition, Professor Bhagwati addresses these concerns, showing that these are not cogent either.

The new edition therefore provides a comprehensive response to the critics of globalization, whether the critiques relate to the social or the economic implications.

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

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Reviews and Endorsements

Named one of BusinessWeek's Best Books of 2004

Named a Best Book of 2004 by Barron's

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with globalizationwe can't seem to appreciate the good things that it brings. Bhagwati's new book offers other examples: He explains how globalization is good for women's rights, good at reducing child labor, good for the environment. If only the globo-skeptics would spend less time celebrating India's odd election and more time reading him.

Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post

In Defense of Globalization is an important contribution to an often incoherent debate. As we expect of Mr. Bhagwati, it is cogently argued and well written. It sets out a persuasive case in favour of globalisation. And because of Mr. Bhagwati's impeccable credentials, there is a better chance his book will be given a fair hearing than might be the case with some other authors. Put simply, Mr. Bhagwati has 'street cred.'

Anne Krueger (Acting Director of the IMF), Financial Times

No one has crusaded more zealously on behalf of free trade than Jagdish Bhagwati. In Defense of Globalization sums up his case, and for free-trade advocate under siege, it arrives not a minute too soon. The book is certainly engaging.

Mark Levinson, American Prospect

A book brimming with engaging arguments and good sense. In Defense of Globalization will encourage the faithful who believe in economic freedom as a value worth pursuing in and of itself, but also those more pragmatic souls who see it as a necessary if less-than-lovable means to achieve poverty reduction and other worthy social goals. Of all the books defending globalization, Jagdish Bhagwati's may offer the best chance to reach those readers not fatally blinded by anti-market ideology.

Daniel Griswold, National Review

[A] forceful yet nuanced case for free trade....In defending globalization, Bhagwati isn't standing up for the status quo. He's making the case for a humane form of globalization guided by enlightened government policies. It made sense in 1963, and it makes sense in 2004.

Peter Coy, Business Week

This is the book that everyone has been waiting for. Bhagwati thoughtfully considers the arguments of the antiglobalization movement and shows the peril they pose to world development.

George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics

A substantial study that is as about as enjoyable and reassuring a work of economics as may be possible to write in this uncertain age.

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

A cogent, erudite, and, indeed, enjoyable discussion of economic globalization and its discontents.

Richard N. Cooper, Foreign Affairs

Bhagwati delivers both with erudition and wittiness, a precise rebuttal of the most common and pernicious fallacies about globalization.

Ernesto Zedillo, Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and former President of Mexico

This book will make history. It will also be a blockbuster, not only because of the depth of Bhagwati's powerful argument backed by extensive research, but also because it is immensely readable and surely the most humorous piece of economics ever written.

Hernando de Soto, author of The Other Path and The Mystery of Capital

A talent for economics and a way with words coexist as rarely as, say, welfare states and low taxes...But last Thursday, Bhagwati, a member of the profession who is already recognized for his rigor, was also honored with a writing award [the Eccles Prize for Excellence in Economic Writing]...for his latest collection of essays, A Stream of Windows (MIT Press). Mr. Bhagwati has long been a Nobel Prize contender for his contribution to the theory of international tradecontributions leavened by apt metaphors, clear examples, and even poetry.

Sylvia Nasar, The New York Times, and author of A Beautiful Mind

Once again, Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati has weighed into the increasingly partisan and ideological debate over trade, offshore outsourcing and globalization. And once again, it is worth listening to. In In Defense of Globalization (Oxford), Bhagwati catalogues the familiar indictments against the free flow of goods, capital and peoplethat they increase poverty, enslave women and children, ruin the environment, create a race to the bottomwhile taking pains to show how these often legitimate fears don't square with reality. The one exception is his too-easy dismissal of the effect of increased trade on the wages of unskilled workers in rich countries such as the United States. But what's most important about this book is its caution about globalizationnamely, that it has to be managed, both in terms of how quickly it proceeds and what policies are put in place to reduce its unpleasant economic and social side effects.

Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post

This work is of major importance, as it authoritatively tackles the main intellectual charges against globalization....Hopefully, this book will convince at least some of those who gullibly joined the fashionable, but dangerous anti-globalization movement that in doing so they have actually abandoned themselves to the devices of intellectual manipulators, political demagogues, and economic reactionaries. The post-Cold War era's dominant economic trend finally gets its defense sheet.

Jerusalem Post

If Bhagwati can't convert the unbelievers into enthusiastic globalizers, probably no one can....Bhagwati demonstrates admirable fairness toward his opponents....[A]n amusing, charming and erudite debater.

Paul Gray, New Leader

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