Money Makes the World Go Around: One Investor Tracks Her Cash Through the Global Economy, from Brooklyn to Bangkog and Back

Money Makes the World Go Around: One Investor Tracks Her Cash Through the Global Economy, from Brooklyn to Bangkog and Back

by Barbara Garson
     
 

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Amid all the globo-babble touting the virtues of the new world economy, it's hard to answer one crucial question: How much is each of us actually affected by the free flow of capital around a world without barriers? Barbara Garson set out to see for herself, and the result is this hilarious and instructive gallop through international finance.

Garson begins simply

Overview

Amid all the globo-babble touting the virtues of the new world economy, it's hard to answer one crucial question: How much is each of us actually affected by the free flow of capital around a world without barriers? Barbara Garson set out to see for herself, and the result is this hilarious and instructive gallop through international finance.

Garson begins simply by depositing a modest sum in a one-branch, small-town bank. With a second sum, she buys shares in an aggressive mutual fund. From those points of departure, she tracks her money's every stop as it races digitally around the world for loans, speculation, and investments. The trail takes her to, among other places, the Federal funds trading desk of a Manhattan mega-bank, a Brooklyn shrimp importer, a new oil refinery in Asia, and factories in Tennessee and Maine.

All along the way she talks to the people who touch, use, or are touched by her money. Her encounters with Wall Street bankers, Chinese labor contractors, Texas oil company treasurers, Bangkok street vendors, Thai welders, American workers, owners, and union representatives, and George Soros -- all of whom get a piece of her investment -- transform our understanding of money. Garson watches the amazing trickle-down of the Asian boom as well as the instantaneous drought brought on by the currency crash. Her investments produce exhilarating change and disturbing insecurity for "first world" people too, as she measures who profits and who doesn't in restructuring, downsizing, and outsourcing.

Few of the people Garson meets know or care about capital flows, but by the time the tour is over, the mechanisms of global finance are no longer obscure or abstract -- we understand just how money does, or doesn't, make the world go around. Part detective story, part business report, this is a primer on today's dizzying economic dynamic and a surprising account of modern life.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Harris
The hypotheticals Garson comes up with are just as engaging as the confirmable facts in this story.
BusinessWeek
San Jose Mercury News
Garson is a delightful traveling companion, both bold and curious.
Wall Street Journal
...Ms. Garson recounts her travels with a disarmingly balanced combination of amazement and social concern.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this high-concept book, Garson (The Livelong Day) puts her publisher's advance against royalties into a local bank account and a mutual fund, then sets out to trace "a few representative uses" of the money around the world as it flows into large financial centers and out to developing countries. Garson, who has written for Newsweek, the New York Times and Harper's, brings a sharp and sympathetic reporter's eye to the effects of the global banking system on real people. In a conversation with a Thai laborer at a Singapore oil refinery in which her money is invested, she learns the costs and benefits of his situation: due to strict migration laws, he cannot leave Singapore to visit his family, but he makes twice what he would at home and is saving money. In another passage, Garson investigates a building permit granted to Caltex, an oil company to which her bank lent money, for a fifth refinery in Thailand, when government policy only allows for only four. While the regional manager insists truthfully that his office does not engage in bribery, she finds that the policy was suddenly reversed and that "some of [her] deposit went into a Thai minister's son-in-law's salary, and some went into U.S. political-campaign funds." From corporate boardrooms and government offices to the streets of Singapore and Penang, Garson navigates disorienting details with skill. Her spirit of adventure and compassionate character sketches elevate the book from a painless lesson in global economics to a minor masterpiece.Agent, Joy Harris. (Feb. 12) Forecast: If Garson is as engaging in person as she is on the page, and her publisher succeeds in booking her widely, this entry will cut a wide swath. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Money does indeed make the world go round, but it shapes the world as well. Journalist, author (All the Livelong Day: The Meaning and Demeaning of Routine Work), and playwright Garson took her advance for writing this book and deposited half in a one-branch bank in Millbrook, NY; the other half went into an aggressive mutual fund. She then followed the paths of the money as it is used by these two institutions. Of course, she could not follow each dollar; she chose representative loans from the Millbrook bank and representative investments by her mutual fund. While she generally approved of the local loans made by the bank, she learned that much of its deposit base is loaned to other banks, which make their loans differently. Conversely, she saw the mutual fund as maximizing shareholder return to the detriment of workers and even national economies. Garson spent some time at corporate meetings, but the bulk of the book concentrates on her observations of and conversations with workers. She makes astute observations, stressing that a concern with maximizing rates of return can lead to great harm at the individual level. Her point is well taken, but the treatment is a bit unbalanced; like William Greider in One World, Ready or Not (LJ 1/97), she downplays the long-term self-regulating effects of the global economy. She concludes with suggestions that the global financial community pay more attention to the local effects of investment strategies. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries A.J. Sobczak, Santa Barbara, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Matthew Rothschild
All in all, this book is a fun ride.
The Progressive
Kirkus Reviews
A smart reporter with an instinctive tilt to the left, Garson (All the Livelong Day, not reviewed, etc.) follows her money around the world in this perceptive financial odyssey. First Garson deposited half of her book advance ($29,500 net) in a charming one-horse bank in New York State. Part of that hoard proceeded, through the Fed Funds desk at Chase, to finance a letter of credit for a seafood wholesaler to an Asian shrimp distributor. Chase moved more of the reporter's capital from rustic New York to rural Thailand, where Caltex used it to construct a refinery. On the spoor of her dollars, the intrepid author got to know the earnest engineers and the indentured laborers among the cadres of visiting workers. From Hong Kong to uptight Singapore, she learned the ways of East Asia. The other half of the advance was lodged with a mutual fund managed by the redoubtable Michael Price, who pushed Chase into the encompassing arms of Chemical Bank. The result was lots of pink slips and extra moolah for the mutual-fund investors. Garson's fund, to wring cash out of Sunbeam (which it controlled), called in"Chainsaw Al" Dunlap to restructure the venerable appliance maker. Dunlap publicized himself, outsourced, jiggled the books, fired executives and line employees alike, and, finally, utterly destroyed Sunbeam. Following her dollars, the author attended plant closings in Tennessee and Maine, painting sympathetic portraits of displaced workers. Without charts or graphs or technical jargon, her text puts a human face on capital development loans, Malaysian labor policies, and IMF strictures. Unreconstructed liberal as capitalist and investor, the author takes a proprietary, personal approach toherrefinery, her lawn-furniture factory, and her prawn farm. At the end, she longs"to see the bankers and investors suffer, just once, some of the personal insecurity and loss that their schemes inflict upon others." The dismal science is no longer quite so dismal with the arrival of this wonderfully instructive report. Author tour

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142000502
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/01/1902
Edition description:
REISSUE
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.86(d)

What People are saying about this

Andrew Hacker
Garson is a superb teacher: informative, entertaining, and truly gets you thinking.
—(Andrew Hacker, author of Two Nations and Money: Who Has How Much and Why)
Vivian Gornick
No one but Barbara Garson could have made an abstraction like the global economy as concrete, lively, and remarkably human....
Howard Zinn
...always, her writing is suffused with a passionate concern for ordinary people overwhelmed by the giants of the corporate world.
—(Howard Zinn, author of the bestselling A People's History of the United States)
Robert Kanigel
Whimsical, yet profoundly serious, full of insight, charm, and good humor....
— (Robert Kanigel, author of The One Best Way)

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