Saturday, February 04, 2006

ER Book Review: The World Is Flat

I just finished Thomas Friedman's new book, The World Is Flat. It's a pretty compelling read and I highly recommend it.

Friedman traces the origins of globalization (what he refers to as 'flatness') by identifying 10 'flattening forces' (internet, outsourcing, off-shoring, etc.) and a triple convergence of super-forces (global web-enabled playing field for business, horizontal business collaboration and new global trading partners).

Throughout the book, Friedman gives great examples of just how fast and flat our world has become. Did you know that China is manufacturing goods (like Virgin of Guadalupe statues) for Mexican consumption? His point is that if you believe that India and China are simply 'racing to the bottom', you're wrong... they are racing the rest of the world to the top. China and India are investing in both capital and intellectual infrastructure. Their end goal is not to be the cheapest labor market... they want to build successful multinational companies than generate wealth. Being a source of cheap labor is only an initial step to a robust economy(this is true of most countries - remember when Japan was today's China?).

Friedman is spot-on with his critiques of the West's inability to realize that the rules of the game have changed and the move to a flat, global economy is accelerating. He fillets anti-globalists and calls on the political left to focus on 'how we globalize' versus 'whether we globalize'. His description of 'sweat-shop' obsessed, upper-middle class, designer jeans wearing, white, college students and their clueless shilling for anti-competitive labor unions is priceless.

I didn't really appreciate his swipes against the Bush Administration and Republicans, but, considering he's employed by The New York Times, we has remarkably even-handed.

Buy the book.


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