Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced Working People

Overview

A powerful, accessible, and eye-opening analysis of the global economy.
Growing up in an African American working-class family in the Midwest, Jon Jeter watched the jobs undergirding a community disappear. As a journalist for the Washington Post (twice a Pulitzer Prize finalist), he reported on the freemarket reforms of the IMF and the World Bank, which in a single generation created a transnational underclass.Led by the United States, nations around the world stopped making ...
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Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced Working People

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Overview

A powerful, accessible, and eye-opening analysis of the global economy.
Growing up in an African American working-class family in the Midwest, Jon Jeter watched the jobs undergirding a community disappear. As a journalist for the Washington Post (twice a Pulitzer Prize finalist), he reported on the freemarket reforms of the IMF and the World Bank, which in a single generation created a transnational underclass.Led by the United States, nations around the world stopped making things and starting buying them, imbibing a risky cocktail of deindustrialization, privatization, and anti-inflationary monetary policy. Jeter gives the consequences of abstract economic policies a human face, and shows how our chickens are coming home to roost in the form of the subprime mortgage scandal, the food crisis, and the fraying of traditional social bonds (marriage). From Rio de Janeiro to Shanghai to Soweto to Chicago’s South Side and Washington, DC, Jeter shows us how the economic prescriptions of “the Washington Consensus” have only deepened poverty—while countries like Chile and Venezuela have flouted the conventional wisdom and prospered.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In an eloquent, no-holds-barred indictment of globalization, Jeter, former Washington Post bureau chief for southern Africa, weaves the narratives of prostitutes in Buenos Aires and cab drivers in Brazil, tomato sellers in Zambia and an upwardly mobile black woman in Chicago into an analysis of how globalization and free trade have transformed many of the world's manufacturing hubs into "global flea markets." There are true moments of heartbreak, particularly when Jeter shows how globalization has slowed progress in postapartheid South Africa and mingles with racism in Brazil, where employers and the state target poor black women for forced sterilization for the putative sake of a larger work force. "The ghetto is in its ascendancy," he writes, challenging free trade orthodoxy and its ability to reduce poverty with examples of nations like Chile which have rethought their attitudes toward globalization and are moving toward new strength and independence. Jeter's stinging criticisms are a catalyst for a truthful and painful discussion about who a "global economy" helps and who it destroys. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Jeter indicts globalization. As the Washington Post's former bureau chief in southern Africa and South America, Jeter covered the regimen of free trade, strong currencies and foreign investment preached by Western agencies to help developing nations break free of poverty. This is globalization, Jeter says, and it's been an unmitigated disaster. He spots compelling human stories in countries where the program hasn't delivered: the Zambian woman who sells tomatoes 12 hours per day, hoping to make enough to feed her family; the Argentine couple who drink tea for dinner so their kids can have the last of the food; the South African children killed in a fire caused by a candle, used by their parents for light because they couldn't afford electricity. But Jeter is uneven in his analysis, blaming this new globalized world for problems that existed before and independently of it. For example, the author devotes an entire chapter to the falling marriage rates of African-Americans, due in part to high unemployment rates among black men, which Jeter blames on free trade. Fair enough, but the Moynihan Report warned the nation of the disintegrating black family more than four decades ago. Fortunately, Jeter's condemnation avoids a misguided call for protectionism. Instead, he proposes that developing nations follow the model of Chile, which has beefed up business regulation and spent public money generously on its social safety net, from health care to education. By investing in its people, he suggests, a country can compete in the new global economy. Jeter overreaches, but he usefully exposes the underbelly of the free-market system. Author tour to Boston, New York, Washington, D.C.,Chicago
John Perkins
“Flat Broke is a brilliant and much-needed assessment of how globalization, neoliberalism, the World Bank, IMF and the other tools of modern empire-building caused the current global economic crisis. And then Jeter goes deeper. He demonstrates that today's international resistance movements, led by a number of Latin American nations, offer hope for a future that will no longer exclude peasants, blue-collar workers, and the 3 billion people presently living below the poverty line--a sustainable and just future our children will want to inherit.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393350012
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Pages: 258
  • Sales rank: 1,110,341
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Jeter was the Washington Post bureau chief for southern Africa from 1999 to 2003, and the Post’s bureau chief for South America from 2003 to 2004. He now lives in Brooklyn.
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