Policy Documents

The Pros and Cons of Globalization

Robert Batterson and Murray Weidenbaum –
January 1, 2001

We are witnessing a profound process that is reshaping much of the world. “Globalization” is changing the way we live our lives every day, from making an airline reservation to getting the latest stock quote or sports score. In the world at large, technology and open markets are creating a global economic system that often seems to exceed the power of government itself.

Trillions of dollars move effortlessly around the world every day, across national borders in the blink of an eye. Cross-border investment and technological progress are fueling this “new economy” that is lifting hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty into the middle class. But there are both winners and losers in the global economy, generating heated debates.

On one side are the “Globalists,” who believe that open markets and private business firms operating across the globe provide for faster economic growth; greater variety of products and services at lower prices to consumers; stronger environmental protections; better working conditions and higher wages; improvements in human rights; and more democratic governments.

On the other side stand the “Anti-Globalists,” who have taken to the streets from Seattle and Washington to Prague and Melbourne, protesting the expansion and greed of corporate global enterprises around the world. They believe that globalization is responsible for the destruction of local environments and emerging economies, abuses of human rights, and undermining of the culture and sovereignty of nation-states. Anti-Globalists decry the power of international bodies, notably the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. In their view these organizations have subjected the developing nations to draconian austerity measures and burdensome debt that have crippled their economies and contributed to world financial crises. They also decry a widening “North/South” income gap that separates the economic powerhouses of the Northern Hemisphere from the largely economically impoverished Southern Hemisphere states.

This briefing book presents both sides of the globalization debate and leaves it to the readers to draw their own conclusions. Although the political, economic, and technological factors are complex, this distillation of the key issues surrounding the conflict over globalization is designed to help Americans better understand the major claims of both sides.