The Free-Trade Fix is a New York Times magazine story on globalisation:
Globalization is meant to signify integration and unity — yet it has proved, in its way, to be no less polarizing than the cold-war divisions it has supplanted. The lines between globalization’s supporters and its critics run not only between countries but also through them, as people struggle to come to terms with the defining economic force shaping the planet today. The two sides in the discussion — a shouting match, really — describe what seem to be two completely different forces. Is the globe being knit together by the Nikes and Microsofts and Citigroups in a dynamic new system that will eventually lift the have-nots of the world up from medieval misery? Or are ordinary people now victims of ruthless corporate domination, as the Nikes and Microsofts and Citigroups roll over the poor in nation after nation in search of new profits?
Tina Rosenberg frames the trade debate nicely:
The architects of globalization are right that international economic integration is not only good for the poor; it is essential. To embrace self-sufficiency or to deride growth, as some protesters do, is to glamorize poverty. No nation has ever developed over the long term without trade. East Asia is the most recent example. Since the mid-1970’s, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China and their neighbors have lifted 300 million people out of poverty, chiefly through trade.
But the protesters are also right — no nation has ever developed over the long term under the rules being imposed today on third-world countries by the institutions controlling globalization. The United States, Germany, France and Japan all became wealthy and powerful nations behind the barriers of protectionism. East Asia built its export industry by protecting its markets and banks from foreign competition and requiring investors to buy local products and build local know-how. These are all practices discouraged or made illegal by the rules of trade today.