GEORGE SOROS ON GLOBALIZATION
Financial mastermind Soros (The Alchemy of Finance, etc.) has made his mark as a philanthropist with a progressive foreign policy, fostering open societies. He equates globalization with "the free movement of capital and the increasing domination of national economies by global financial markets and multinational corporations." In this treatise, he explains how his vision to "make global capitalism more stable and equitable" acknowledges that antiglobalization protesters have a case against the mainstream consensus that the market works well. Instead of dismantling existing international financial and trade institutions, though, Soros suggests reform. Market fundamentalists, he says, are unwilling to modify existing institutions to create a level playing field; moreover, they're loath to create institutions to foster social goals like reducing poverty. Protestors, he observes, are "strangely blind" to the need to improve the quality of government and public life in poorer countries. Soros's suggested method provides aid that will "enable, encourage, and reinforce" voluntary compliance with international standards relating to environment, education and labor. His proposal? The richer countries in the IMF issue Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) for international assistance—i.e., international reserve assets—a process that shares the burden equitably, with the United States paying its fair share. A board of "eminent persons" chooses who's eligible for assistance, and a separate audit commission evaluates those chosen. After September 11, Soros notes in conclusion, Americans must recognize the world's precarious interdependence. Soros has an admirable track record and the virtue of hindsight (his foundations have done innovative work and his take on what could have been done in Russia over the past decade is compelling). This dry but vital book deserves attention and debate. (Mar.)
Forecast:The United Nations is holding the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, this week, and this book is sure to be talked about there. Discussions following the recent World Economic Forum in New York will fuel sales, too.
Release date: 03/01/2002