Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Globalization Seminar Continued 

It wasn't letting me publish the full post so I split it up:

Norberg made a compelling case that despite short-term layoffs locally, unhindered free trade policies benefits so many more people on a globally. This might be a horrible comparison but I think he would argue that Flint Michigan is a small price to pay for lifting millions out of poverty in India and China (and I still insist that the company or government should be obligated to ease the transition much more in massive layoff situations then they have done in the past). I know this idea is not novel and may be even cliché, Anyhow, but Norberg backed up common macroeconomic theories with tons of interesting historical evidence. For example, when an audience member asserted that one of the problems with globalization was that companies were rewarding despot governments by moving to the markets with the cheapest labor and worst work conditions, Norberg countered with evidence that companies only invest in areas of stability, transparency and rule of law. Foreign investors won’t touch the most impoverished countries where the wages and work conditions are the worst, like Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, not for noble reasons of course, but simply because the investment there is too risky. He also noted the proven positive correlation between wages and work conditions and foreign investment. When the audience member challenged that when the conditions and wages improve, the same companies pick up and move to other countries with lower wages thereby depressing the country once more, Norberg responded by citing statistics that when companies leave a country because the wages and work conditions are raised up, the country continues to benefit from the elevated standard of living and does not fall back (he used Japan as one of his examples of this). That was only one of the many interesting interchanges during the three hour panel. Also interesting, was the author’s discussion how globalization does not equal Americanization, but is often perceived that way. He argued that globalization has actually been bad for the U.S. citing examples of how China and India are now tremendously influencing American policy and decision making because of their elevated trading and economic status. Another interesting topic was globalization from the local perspective here in Jordan. I won’t expound on the issues for sake of time, but according to the panelists Jordan is making great progress (and it seemed like an honest discussion of that progress. For example, they cited the recent privatization of the telecom in Jordan, but faulted the transition for not yet allowing for competition). It was an extremely interesting morning (although I am aware I may have bored all of you immensely with this blog post). Okay, so I am basically writing about a typical lecture I would have yawned through at Wesleyan. I guess what made it so unique and engaging to me was the company in the room. I got to hear a discussion of globalization from a European author who began his political career as an anarchist and citizens of a country not fully bombarded by it yet--or as Norberg would say, not fully benefiting from it yet.


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