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November 16, 2007

Comments

Alex Zaman

In “Making Globalization Work,” Stiglitz delineates some of the inequities caused by globalization in developing countries, and lays out a few ambitious reforms to improve the direction and scope of how globalization should be managed in the future. While many extol the virtues of globalization (such as Friedman) in noting that the movement created unparalleled opportunities for all the citizens of the world through technology, Stiglitz notes that many developing countries have been rushed through the process of globalization due to rapid, misguided direction from entities such as the IMF, the World Bank, and other adherents of the “Washington Consensus.” Since most of his examples of globalization gone awry highlight developing countries not having equal say in economic trade agreements, being exploited by more advanced countries for corporate purposes, and being faced with massive amounts of debt, it is logical to see why he places a great deal of emphasis on restructuring the international bodies of government and organization. Most importantly, as previous posters have noted, Stiglitz denounces any one-size fits all approach, which history has shown to be a total failure.

I think one of the most important topics he talks about involves intellectual property rights. Providing the medicines to developing countries at cost and issuing compulsory licenses would ensure that developing countries would at least have a fair chance at accessing lifesaving medication. Setting up a market-based incentive fund to reward researchers and companies for innovation would also set aside money for disadvantaged countries. However, some of these solutions are difficult to implement in practice, simply due to the power that the United States and European governments have garnered through their currently-existing trade and property schemes. But a better way of start accounting for the rights of those in developed countries is to start with international agreements on topics that have gone largely unregulated. An example of this is bio-piracy and the protection of traditional knowledge, for which Stiglitz recommends a treaty that all countries must sign and guarantee biodiversity property rights within existing agreements. By initiating world agreements on topics that haven’t been broached, or ones that don’t create much dispute, the seeds for improved international governance can be sown. I agree with his call for an overhaul of institutional structure, particularly in terms of voting at the IMF. It seems unfair that the reasoning for votes is based on economic power that countries possessed over fifty years ago. An equal share of votes for every country in international organizations is the only way improved dialogue, openness, and participation will occur. It appears there are many unresolved loopholes in today’s iteration of globalization. Developing countries often reproduce advanced medicines on the cheap, are taking many jobs away from other countries, and owe substantial amounts of debt to developed countries, who in turn are exploiting developing countries for their resources and contributing to unmatched levels of pollution and environmental destruction. The only plausible remedy is to allow for the gradual introduction of powerful international governance. In the meantime, I think governments would do well to promote microfinance programs ( as Ellen pointed out) such as the Grameen Bank in order to achieve introductory, stable levels of capital that would go a long way in establishing efficiency in local programs and community development that Stiglitz champions.

Salman Ahmed

Joseph Stiglitz writes about globalization and how it can be beneficial to the majority of parties involved, however, in its current form it is geared towards benefitting primarily the developed nations of the west and has become a mechanism for extorting the Third World nations. I can agree with these arguments whole-heartedly. The problem with any proposed solutions is that they require the existence of a supranational organization. Dialogue alone is not the answer to the problems plaguing the current situation. Any organization in existence today, be it the IMF or WTO is bound to be dominated by the economic powers of the world. In order for globalization to be truly equitable for all, there needs to exist a strong sense for altruism. In a world of completely self-interested economies, it is almost impossible for all to work together for the good of all instead of just themselves. Unless there existed an organization which was completely objective and not biased towards any one economy or group of economies, but clearly this cannot exist.

Vladislav Andreyev

I just finished reading this book and it was a very good read. It was extremely interesting and sobering, giving me a lot of food for thought about globalization and its possible drawbacks. Stiglitz’s book definitely inspired me to pursue the topic of globalization further, as I think it will fit in very well with my concentration paper.
Stiglitz offers a lot of good reasons for why globalization is not as good as it seems to be form the perspective of a developed country. For developing countries, globalization oftentimes means environmental degradation, corruption, exploitation, and natural resource depletion. This is very true, and is indeed in need of fixing. I also liked the part of the book about corporations. It is very true that many multi-national corporations have too much power. Indeed, many corporations are richer than some of the countries around the world (especially the developing ones). By pursuing a constant need for growth and profits, these corporations contribute a lot to the problems mentioned above (such as environmental degradation and corruption). Also, I liked his point that the bigger a corporation is, the less responsibility its employees feel they have about operations in other countries. However, it is a dangerous point, because it seems to imply that many people who work for large corporations are somehow responsible for what’s happening in the world. But it is a good point – something that many of us can think about.
The only criticism that I have about the book is its solutions. For instance, in terms of the “new world order”, Stiglitz puts a lot of emphasis on organizations such as International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization. What seems contradictory is that he also criticizes these organizations in the book and does not convincingly state reasons why these organizations would suddenly become independent and effective. Also, he places a lot of moral appeal onto leaders of developed countries. While he has good intentions, it is very unlikely that such efforts will materialize. I was hoping the book with the title “Making Globalization Work” would provide real solutions to the many problems that the author describes. But I just was not convinced that his propositions are practical.

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