IRONIC REVERSAL: POOR WORLD NOW FAVORS GLOBALIZATION, WHILE RICH HAVE
By Jagdish Bhagwati
Jagdish Bhagwati, a key critic of globalization, is a professor of
economics and political science at Columbia University.
NEW YORK -- Over the past year, there has been an ironic reversal
of views on globalization. There is more enthusiasm for it in the poorer
countries than in the richer ones. This is reflected in the first "global
public opinion poll" commissioned by the World Economic Forum.
In most of the urban poor and developing world -- except countries such
as Turkey and Argentina, where there has been an immediate financial crisis
-- public opinion has turned in favor of globalization as something positive
for individuals and their families.
The attitude in countries from Mexico to Nigeria to even Kazhakstan seems
to be that they have tried anti-globalization and it hasn't improved their
lives. In urban China, 83 percent think globalization will make their
lives better; in India, 69 percent think so. They expect that market reforms,
freer trade and foreign investment with the rest of the world is for the
In the rich world, on the other hand, doubts have grown about job loss
due to freer trade and outflows of investment to the developing world.
This no doubt accounts not only for the emergence of anti-globalization
protests, such as the one in Genoa, but the general public sympathy for
them, as well.
In Great Britain, the United States and Canada, nearly as many people
think globalization will cost them jobs as think it will be beneficial.
In France, 72 percent think unemployment will get worse because of globalization;
in Germany that figure is 70 percent, and in Spain it is 48 percent. Italy
and the Netherlands stand out as the two developed countries that think
employment will improve, not worsen, as a result of globalization.
One has to be careful, however, in defining globalization. While market
reforms and more openness in investment and trade have gained sympathy
in the poorer world, there is still a view -- correct as far as I am concerned
-- about the enormous destructive potential of unregulated short-term
capital flows that can reverse the fortunes of a country in world markets
at the whim of investors and traders.
It is important to identify this culprit, lest the anti-globalization
sentiment latches on to the wrong target. In Argentina, for example, much
of the protest and criticism have been aimed at the liberalization of
markets -- which have, in fact, been largely successful-- when the problem
is actually exchange rates and capital flows.
(c) 2002, Asharq Al Awsat/Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Los Angeles
Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services
For immediate release (Distributed 2/1/02)