Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner and Columbia University economics professor, sees globalization's unrealized potential to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth. In recent years, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization have promoted world financial stability, prosperity and free trade, yet Stiglitz wonders why so many revile these organizations' programs to the point of rioting in the streets. Casting a dispassionately analytical eye at East Asia's and Russia's financial turmoil, he argues that the IMF imposed austere policies that only exacerbated each area's problems. When he finds a similar policy pattern for other countries in crisis, Stiglitz asks how a public institution can ignore growing evidence of a flawed policy and not take action or be held accountable. In answering his own question, Stiglitz blames the "market fundamentalism" that endorses the view that a "free" market solves all problems flawlessly. As Stiglitz authoritatively indicates, one-size-fits-all economic policies can damage rather than help countries with unique financial, governmental and social institutions. He calls for public institutions to reform and become more transparent and responsive to their constituents. Stiglitz shares inside information from cabinet meetings when he served on Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and from his years as chief economist at the World Bank, divulging debates in Washington's conference rooms, naming names and raising his eyebrows at those who refuse to question certain IMF policies' repeated shortcomings. This smart, provocative study contributes significantly to the ongoing globalization debate and provides a model of analytical rigor concerning the process of assisting countries facing the challenges of economic development and transformation. (June 10) Forecast: Stiglitz's impassioned, balanced and informed book is a must-read for all interested in understanding globalization. Professors, economists and students should respond to his author tour and national media interviews, making this a strong business seller. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Stiglitz has always been in the center of things as a Nobel Prize-winning academic, as chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, and recently as chief economist at the World Bank. Globalization and Its Discontents is mainly a book of reflections on international economic policy, with a special emphasis on the errors made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Indeed, he might have titled the book "The IMF and Its Discontents." Stiglitz's analysis of the problems caused by shock therapy in formerly communist states develops in practical terms some theoretical themes found in his early book Whither Socialism? (CH, May'95). His relentless critique of IMF policies during recent economic crises is interesting to contrast with Paul Blustein's The Chastening (CH, Mar'02). Both Stiglitz and Blustein provide "inside views" of these crises; it is interesting to read them together to gain a perspective on how international economic policy is made in practice. Stiglitz concludes that global economic institutions need to be rethought and that they need to adopt a single-minded strategy to assure that the benefits of globalization reach the world's poor. This controversial, thought-provoking, and lucid volume is must reading for anyone interested in international economics. General readers; students, lower-division undergraduate and up; and faculty and professionals. M. Veseth University of Puget Sound
Stiglitz, noted economist in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 2000, posits that that "the level of pain in developing countries created in the process of globalization and development as it has been guided by the IMF and the international economic organizations has been far greater than necessary." He observed the debates, knew ideas mattered, and saw his role as convincing his colleagues that good economics was also good politics. However, when he moved for three years to the international arena at the World Bank, he found a decision-making process--especially at the International Monetary Fund--that was based on ideology, bad economics, and policy that often favored interests such as Wall Street over the needs of poorer nations. This critique is presented to open a debate on how globalization is managed, which the author hopes will include representatives of poorer nations directly affected. His aim is for better policies on globalization and, hence, better results. --Mary Whaley
Kirkus Book Review
An insider's account of the ill-considered effort to make a free market of the Third World, an effort that, described here, favors the rich and robs the poor. The title's echo of Sigmund Freud is shrewd, if a little misleading, for whereas Freud's great Civilization and Its Discontents was an encompassing look at the neurosis-making qualities of Western life, Stiglitz's confines itself to the workings of but two policy-making and -effecting organizations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This he does very well. Intimately acquainted with their work-he served as an economic advisor to the Clinton administration and as the World Bank's chief economist and senior vice president-Stiglitz charges that both organizations have abandoned their original missions. "The IMF was supposed to limit itself to matters of macro-economics in dealing with a country . . . and the World Bank was supposed to be in charge of structural issues," he writes, but, with the advent of the free-market-worshipping Reagan administration, both took an activist, even imperial view that demanded that developing countries throw open their doors to capitalism. The results were often disastrous as wealth and resources flowed out of such countries and into the hands of the First World, Stiglitz writes, particularly in the case of newly democratic Russia, which, he notes sadly, "must treat what has happened as pillage of national assets, a theft for which the nation can never be recompensed." Stiglitz's prescriptions for the establishment of a truly global but more equitable economy are unabashedly Keynesian and generally convincing. They include slowing the pace of capitalist expansion until developing countries can adjust politically and socially to new financial systems, giving more and better aid to those countries, forgiving debt-and thoroughly overhauling the World Bank, IMF, and other instruments of development. Provocative, readable, and sure to earn Stiglitz persona non grata status in certain corridors of power.