The Creation and Destruction of Value: The Globalization Cycle

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Overview

Harold James examines the vulnerability and fragility of processes of globalization, both historically and in the present. This book applies lessons from past breakdowns of globalization—above all in the Great Depression—to show how financial crises provoke backlashes against global integration: against the mobility of capital or goods, but also against flows of migration. By a parallel examination of the financial panics of 1929 and 1931 as well as that of 2008, he shows how banking and monetary collapses suddenly and radically alter the rules of engagement for every other type of economic activity.

Increased calls for state action in countercyclical fiscal policy bring demands for trade protection. In the open economy of the twenty-first century, such calls are only viable in very large states—probably only in the United States and China. By contrast, in smaller countries demand trickles out of the national container, creating jobs in other countries. The international community is thus paralyzed, and international institutions are challenged by conflicts of interest. The book shows the looming psychological and material consequences of an interconnected world for people and the institutions they create.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
The recent U.S. financial meltdown that spread throughout the world stimulated a plethora of analyses of the causes and consequences of this catastrophe. However, few studies are as insightful as this short but important work.
— D. C. Messerschmidt
The Economist
The reflections of Harold James, an economic historian at Princeton University and a long-time student of what makes globalization happen, would be of interest even in times more tranquil than these. But at a moment when the march of global integration has been stalled by a financial crisis unparalleled since the 1930s, Mr. James is a particularly fitting guide...At a time when economists are accused of having forgotten history, yet few historians can explain the world of bank bail-outs and the turmoil they cause, Mr. James has a rare gift for being able to marshal an impressive knowledge of economic and financial history in order to highlight previously unrecognized connections with the past.
The Independent
Unsurprisingly there have been a host of books about the banking crisis and its consequences. But they have mostly had a "whodunnit?" tone to them, seeking to explain what happened and apportion the blame, rather than giving us some feeling for how the world economy might dig itself out of the crisis and how effectively it might develop in the years to come. So Harold James new book deserves a special welcome for giving us a framework to try to do this, for he is an historian rather than an economist...Anyone expecting his new book to explain why this current crisis will end the burst of globalization will be disappointed. His argument is more subtle and more interesting...Where he adds most value is in his effort to put the crisis into its international political context, asking some tough questions on the way.
— Hamish McRae
Forbes.com
From the current vantage point--rising stock prices amid a weak economic recovery and double-digit unemployment--it is too soon to know whether the current crisis will be remembered as a financial shock that failed to throw off the trajectory of globalization, or if it marks the start of a more fundamental re-ordering. James modestly and appropriately avoids trying to answer that question. But he asks all the right ones, offering a brilliant tour through the Great Depression and the current crisis.
— Edward Alden
Publishers Weekly
Among the casualties of the recession will be the once unstoppable juggernaut of globalization itself, argues this scattershot treatise. Historian James (The End of Globalization) compares the current economic crisis to the Great Depression to suggest a cyclical dynamic in which advances in global integration are superseded by retrenchments toward economic nationalism and autarky. What links these cataclysms, he contends, is the crumbling of “values” in many senses. As banks' balance sheets grow murky, unemployment soars, currencies fluctuate and economies seesaw between inflation and deflation, the cultural values that depend on confidence in the global economy—trust, openness, tolerance—also waver. The result—in the 1930s and now, he fears—is a swing toward tariffs and trade wars, anti-immigrant backlashes and perhaps authoritarian government. James buttresses his thesis with statistics and graphs and detailed, blow-by-blow chronicles of stock market panics and bank runs past and present, but none of this ever gels into a systematic account of the various crises he investigates or a rigorous model of cyclicality in economic globalization. Instead, he's written an elegy for an expansive form of liberal capitalism that's now been done in by its financial excesses. (Sept.)
The Economist
The reflections of Harold James, an economic historian at Princeton University and a long-time student of what makes globalization happen, would be of interest even in times more tranquil than these. But at a moment when the march of global integration has been stalled by a financial crisis unparalleled since the 1930s, Mr. James is a particularly fitting guide...At a time when economists are accused of having forgotten history, yet few historians can explain the world of bank bail-outs and the turmoil they cause, Mr. James has a rare gift for being able to marshal an impressive knowledge of economic and financial history in order to highlight previously unrecognized connections with the past.
The Independent

Unsurprisingly there have been a host of books about the banking crisis and its consequences. But they have mostly had a "whodunnit?" tone to them, seeking to explain what happened and apportion the blame, rather than giving us some feeling for how the world economy might dig itself out of the crisis and how effectively it might develop in the years to come. So Harold James' new book deserves a special welcome for giving us a framework to try to do this, for he is an historian rather than an economist...Anyone expecting his new book to explain why this current crisis will end the burst of globalization will be disappointed. His argument is more subtle and more interesting...Where he adds most value is in his effort to put the crisis into its international political context, asking some tough questions on the way.
— Hamish McRae

Forbes.com

From the current vantage point—rising stock prices amid a weak economic recovery and double-digit unemployment—it is too soon to know whether the current crisis will be remembered as a financial shock that failed to throw off the trajectory of globalization, or if it marks the start of a more fundamental re-ordering. James modestly and appropriately avoids trying to answer that question. But he asks all the right ones, offering a brilliant tour through the Great Depression and the current crisis.
— Edward Alden

Choice

The recent U.S. financial meltdown that spread throughout the world stimulated a plethora of analyses of the causes and consequences of this catastrophe. However, few studies are as insightful as this short but important work.
— D. C. Messerschmidt

Niall Ferguson
No one is better qualified than Harold James to explore the similarities and differences between recent events and the early 1930s. A model of lucid exposition, The Creation and Destruction of Value confirms that if you want to understand our current predicament, history is a much better guide than economics.
David Marsh
A masterly account. James commands his subject like no other. The lessons of 1931 for today's world are compelling. Like Humpty Dumpty, globalization is broken, and it will take time to put it together again.
The Independent - Hamish McRae
Unsurprisingly there have been a host of books about the banking crisis and its consequences. But they have mostly had a "whodunnit?" tone to them, seeking to explain what happened and apportion the blame, rather than giving us some feeling for how the world economy might dig itself out of the crisis and how effectively it might develop in the years to come. So Harold James' new book deserves a special welcome for giving us a framework to try to do this, for he is an historian rather than an economist...Anyone expecting his new book to explain why this current crisis will end the burst of globalization will be disappointed. His argument is more subtle and more interesting...Where he adds most value is in his effort to put the crisis into its international political context, asking some tough questions on the way.
Forbes.com - Edward Alden
From the current vantage point--rising stock prices amid a weak economic recovery and double-digit unemployment--it is too soon to know whether the current crisis will be remembered as a financial shock that failed to throw off the trajectory of globalization, or if it marks the start of a more fundamental re-ordering. James modestly and appropriately avoids trying to answer that question. But he asks all the right ones, offering a brilliant tour through the Great Depression and the current crisis.
Choice - D. C. Messerschmidt
The recent U.S. financial meltdown that spread throughout the world stimulated a plethora of analyses of the causes and consequences of this catastrophe. However, few studies are as insightful as this short but important work.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674035843
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 4.58 (w) x 7.36 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold James is the Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European Studies and Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University.
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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction

  1. The End of Globalization: A Millennial Perspective
  2. Which Historical Analogy Applies, 1929 or 1931?
  3. The Crash of 2008: The Weekends That Made History
  4. The Extent and Limit of the Financial Revolution
  5. The Importance of Power Politics
  6. Uncertainty of Values

  • Notes
  • Index

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