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Everything here is my personal opinion. I do not speak for my employer.
January 2009
February 2009

2009-01-16 »

Avery's strongest ever book recommendation

I mean it.

You really should read The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World, by John Ralston Saul.

I've been a fan of John Ralston Saul for about 10 years, since I saw him speak at the University of Waterloo. I picked up this particular book a few weeks ago at Chapters on clearance discount for $10. It seems to be very unpopular; it only has one review on Amazon, and that one looks kind of fake.

And that's too bad. The book's only fault is that it sticks to the facts, backs them up really well with more facts, lots of references, and a good bibliography, and isn't sensationalist in the least. It puts things in an excellent historical perspective, pointing out interesting truths like:

  • This is not the time in history where the borders have been the most open (the colonialist days had lots of "free trade" inside the huge empires);

  • Global economic growth rates have been much less in the last 30 years (with globalization) than the preceding 25 (with lots of border controls);

  • Political nationalism is on the rise despite the huge drop in trade tariffs;

  • China and India have been doing pretty well and pulling up the global average growth rate; entire continents (ie. Africa) have had negative growth in the last 30 years compared to positive growth before that;

  • Governments still have the power to control corporations, but they've given up that power willingly;

  • Countries (eg. Malaysia) that closed their borders and pegged their currencies have been more successful than countries that didn't;

  • Hedge funds are out of control and making a terrible, very risky mess by undermining the financial system (this was back in 2006!);

  • Globalism is already dead and declining rapidly, but with little fanfare (the WTO protests reached their height years ago, and for good reason);

  • Terrorism and guerilla warfare have to exist because conflict still exists but normal warfare is obsolete.

And best of all, he makes all of the above points way more clearly than I ever could.

I admit it, the book is pretty dense and hard to read. I read another business book right after this one, and it had about the same number of pages and the same font size, but took about 20% as long to slog through.

But if you actually want to understand the economy and what's been going on in the world, it's worth it.


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