Money Makes the World Go Around

Barbara Garson, Author
Barbara Garson, Author Viking Penguin $24.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-670-86660-1
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-14-200050-2
Ebook - 978-0-7865-3458-6
Ebook - 978-0-7865-3457-9
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In this high-concept book, Garson (The Livelong Day) puts her publisher's advance against royalties into a local bank account and a mutual fund, then sets out to trace ""a few representative uses"" of the money around the world as it flows into large financial centers and out to developing countries. Garson, who has written for Newsweek, the New York Times and Harper's, brings a sharp and sympathetic reporter's eye to the effects of the global banking system on real people. In a conversation with a Thai laborer at a Singapore oil refinery in which her money is invested, she learns the costs and benefits of his situation: due to strict migration laws, he cannot leave Singapore to visit his family, but he makes twice what he would at home and is saving money. In another passage, Garson investigates a building permit granted to Caltex, an oil company to which her bank lent money, for a fifth refinery in Thailand, when government policy only allows for only four. While the regional manager insists truthfully that his office does not engage in bribery, she finds that the policy was suddenly reversed and that ""some of [her] deposit went into a Thai minister's son-in-law's salary, and some went into U.S. political-campaign funds."" From corporate boardrooms and government offices to the streets of Singapore and Penang, Garson navigates disorienting details with skill. Her spirit of adventure and compassionate character sketches elevate the book from a painless lesson in global economics to a minor masterpiece.Agent, Joy Harris. (Feb. 12) Forecast: If Garson is as engaging in person as she is on the page, and her publisher succeeds in booking her widely, this entry will cut a wide swath.
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