Foreign Affairs (January/February 2009) has plenty of timely and interesting articles for us on matters of global importance. First, Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian discuss "From Doha to the Next Bretton Woods: A New Multilateral Trade Agenda." Something that you sometimes find missing when economists discuss trade matters is a lack of political realism. Unfortunately, that case seems to hold here as these authors suggest that LDCs are willing to make concessions they have been unwilling to make in the past. For more on this point see the IELP.) Nevertheless, it's still a thought-provoking read.
Next we get a flavor of Martin Wolf's book, Fixing Global Finance, via a review written by the respected economic historian Harold James. Martin Wolf seems to be taking his fair share of lumps for writing a book entitled Why Globalization Works. Indeed, if globalization worked so darned well, what's led us to the current situation? Wolf gives us some clues and suggests ways for enabing a globalization less besmirched by binge-and-purge cycles. As you would expect, it involves reducing global economic imbalances. Once more, though, I'd like more of a flavor of how this would be achieved instead of rehashing a commonsense economic prescription that's easier said than done.
You then get three essays on the meaning of capitalist liberal democracy under seige as demonstrated by current events. Instead of getting the end of history with all countries converging on a common model, many are contemplating alternative forms of governance such as that offered by China. Earlier on, I questioned the existence and desirability of a "Beijing Consensus"; these essays make some commentary on that. Roger Altman thus writes about "The Great Crash, 2008: A Geopolitical Setback for the West" in which he argues that there's [yawn] an eastward shift in the balance of power. Daniel Deudney and John Ikenberry demur, however, citing "The Myth of the Autocratic Revival: Why Liberal Democracy Will Prevail." Lastly, the ever-optimistic American viewpoint is represented here by Anne-Marie Slaughter writing about "America's Edge: Power in the Networked Century." So many years after the tech bubble burst, it is surprising how many American commentators still believe e-this, e-that and the knowledge economy will see to it that American predominance will continue. Somehow, I doubt whether it will be enough based on current evidence.
I must commend the CFR for putting out this fine publication. Although I most certainly do not agree with the all-too-frequent USA No.1-style boosterism from American contributors, there is still much food for thought here and a perhaps welcome counterpoint to the pessimism dished out by the likes of yours truly on a regular basis. Happy reading!*
* These five articles aren't gated at the current time, although they usually become restricted to subscribers if I'm not mistaken. It's better to save them now to read in the future if you don't have the time to read them at the moment.