Top positive review
Reviewing in hindsight
Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2019
This book was written some 20 years ago. It was when the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union were still fresh on everyone’s mind. The prevailing mood was one of euphoria, with democracy having triumphed over totalitarian rule, capitalism over communism, and free trade over protectionism. Reviewing his book now with the benefit of hindsight, I am afraid my comments may not be entirely fair to the author.
The author gives an excellent introduction, with a brief but clear account of the 1997/98 financial crises, explaining how the crash of the Thai baht would lead to financial woes worldwide. He explains how the enormous power that the ‘Electronic Herd’ (investors worldwide who are closely connected electronically) holds sway over global finance and economics. He goes on to describe a new world order in finance and geopolitics, which he calls a ‘Golden Straitjacket’, brought about by the advance in globalisation that has hit the world at lightning speed. Throughout his book, he provides good insights on the effects of globalisation, how a country should adapt, who leads the world in the process, and the role he sees that America plays.
As a journalist specialising in international affairs, the author quotes extensively from his international experience. He writes, nevertheless, from an essentially American perspective. He sees America as a leader and facilitator in the process of globalisation. What he could not foresee in 1999/2000 is that in 2019, his country has made an about turn on free trade. The current US administration is slapping tariffs on China and the EU left and right, reneging on trade (and even nuclear) agreements previously signed, and actually putting up a physical wall on the border with Mexico.
One area that the author has not covered adequately is backlash to globalisation. (I am saying this with the benefit of hindsight, of course.) His discussion of backlash is covered in one chapter, which I find too brief. Issues which plaque the US today, such as a widening gap between the rich and poor, much needed training and help for displaced workers, resurgence of protectionism, etc, are only touched upon briefly.
As regards style of writing, the author writes in a manner that is down to earth and easy to understand. His frequent use of metaphors (eg Lexus, olive tree, Electronic Head, Golden Straitjacket) provides vivid imagery that makes his book interesting to read. He does go a bit too far here and there, though. Terms such as ‘globalution’ and ‘globalutionary’ are rather too much a mouthful, I find.
In all, a book that is interesting reading even after 20 years.