The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

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by Pietra Rivoli
     
 

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Praise for THE TRAVELS OF A T-SHIRT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

"Engrossing . . . (Rivoli) goes wherever the T-shirt goes, and there are surprises around every corner . . . full of memorable characters and vivid scenes."

Time

"An engaging and illuminating saga. . . . Rivoli follows her T-shirt along its route, but that is

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Overview

Praise for THE TRAVELS OF A T-SHIRT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

"Engrossing . . . (Rivoli) goes wherever the T-shirt goes, and there are surprises around every corner . . . full of memorable characters and vivid scenes."

Time

"An engaging and illuminating saga. . . . Rivoli follows her T-shirt along its route, but that is like saying that Melville follows his whale. . . . Her nuanced and fair-minded approach is all the more powerful for eschewing the pretense of ideological absolutism, and her telescopic look through a single industry has all the makings of an economics classic."

The New York Times

"Rarely is a business book so well written that one would gladly stay up all night to finish it. Pietra Rivoli's The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is just such a page-turner."

CIO magazine

"Succeeds admirably . . . T-shirts may not have changed the world, but their story is a useful account of how free trade and protectionism certainly have."

Financial Times

"[A] fascinating exploration of the history, economics, and politics of world trade . . . The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a thought-provoking yarn that exhibits the ugly, the bad, and the good of globalization, and points to the unintended positive consequences of the clash between proponents and opponents of free trade."

Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)

"Part travelogue, part history, and part economics, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is ALL storytelling, and in the grand style. A must-read."

—Peter J.Dougherty, Senior Economics Editor, Princeton University Press author of Who's Afraid of Adam Smith?

"A readable and evenhanded treatment of the complexities of free trade . . . As Rivoli repeatedly makes clear, there is absolutely nothing free about free trade except the slogan."

San Francisco Chronicle

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
The protagonist of this highly informative and entertaining book is a $6 T-shirt purchased in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Georgetown economist Rivoli uses her T-shirt as a vehicle for telling an analytic story about its life — from the cotton fields of Texas to either its proud purchase by a Tanzanian villager or its sale as mattress filler, depending on its condition when discarded by its American owner. Along the way, she explores the history of cotton production and the cotton textile industry and evaluates the misguided and often absurd U.S. textile policy over the past half century, up to the end of 2004, when the multilateral Multifiber Arrangement (which inadvertently created many more jobs in not-quite-competitive developing countries than it preserved in the United States) expired. Rivoli draws heavily on her own interviews and on anthropological as well as economic literature, which gives her tale a human touch. She shows how despite the awful working conditions in apparel factories, in both historical America and contemporary poor countries the jobs they offered were often liberating to young women, who preferred the sweatshops to the stifling life they otherwise would have had to endure on the farm.
From the Publisher
"It brings history and economics in an enjoyable way..." (Financial Times, 21st September 2005)

“…a fine account of how the countervailing forces of the market and protectionism conflict in combining in a single product…” (Financial Times, 30 July 2005)

"Rarely is a business book so well written that one would gladly stay up all night to finish it..."  (CIO: Chief Information Officer Magazine, June 15, 2005)

"Globalization is a hot-button topic that generates strong feelings along with images of boarded-up, independent businesses in America and exploitative sweatshops overseas. But what exactly is it? In The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, Georgetown University business professor Pietra Rivoli chronicles the round-the-world odyssey of a T-shirt, from Texas cotton-growers to an African used-clothing bazaar, to reveal how the planetary economy really works.
Along the way, we see how entrepreneurial U.S. farmers team with government-sponsored researchers—and take advantage of subsidies and trade barriers—to dominate world cotton production. Migrant workers from Chinese family farms tell why they regard low-wage jobs in Shanghai sewing factories as golden opportunities. And only in that African used-clothing bazaar do we encounter a truly free market where entrepreneurs—perhaps including some future tycoons of the 21st century—utterly rely on pure business skills and instinct. Whether you feel hurt or helped by globalization, you'll certainly understand it better after reading this fascinating account." (Entrepreneur Magazine, May 2005

"...full of memorable characters and vivid scenes..." [and that] "Rivoli excels at making connections." (Time Magazine, March 28, 2005)

"T-shirts may not have changed the world; but this story is a useful account of how free trade and protection certainly have." (Financial Times)

"The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is an excellent piece of work - a thorough, lucid and (best of all) honest examination of how politics and economics intertwine in the real world." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Engrossing….(Rivoli) goes wherever the t-shirt goes and there are surprises around every corner…full of memorable characters and vivid scenes” (TIME)

"Her nuanced and fair-minded approach is all the more powerful for eschewing the pretense of ideological absolutism, and her telescopic look through a single industry has all the makings of an economics classic." (New York Times)

“…Succeeds admirably… T-shirts may not have changed the world, but this story is a useful account of how free trade and protectionism certainly have.” (Financial Times)

“…a fascinating exploration of the history, economics and politics of world trade…The Travels of a T-Shirt is a thought-provoking yarn that exhibits the ugly, the bad and the good of globalization, and points to the unintended positive consequences of the clash between the proponents and opponents of free trade.” (Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“…a readable and evenhanded treatment of the complexities of world trade… As Rivoli repeatedly makes clear, there is absolutely nothing free about free trade except the slogan.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471724193
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
04/01/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
583,701
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Part travelogue, part history, and part economics, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is ALL storytelling, and in the grand style. Globalization critics who read this book will understand why it is impossible to lift countries out of poverty without the power of free markets, while policymakers will learn the equally bracing lesson that economic progress for the wealthiest of nations means nothing without the democratic political institutions that uplift the poorest of nations. A must-read."
Peter J. Dougherty, Senior Economics Editor, Princeton University Press, author of Who's Afraid of Adam Smith?

Meet the Author

PIETRA RIVOLI, PHD, is Associate Professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, where she specializes in international business, finance, and social issues in business. She is the author of International Business and has been published in numerous academic journals, including the Journal of International Business Studies, the Journal of Business Ethics, Business Ethics Quarterly, and the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

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Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
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nadrad More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this book before reading it. It starts off as a good chronicle of the life and death of her T-shirt, but then morphs into a textbook. She could use a fact checker. I was surprised to read that Dr. Chu was named to be head of EPA in Obama administration. He, in fact, is secretary of the energy department.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book because it reads like a travel journal of an American t-shirt. The main character is the t-shirt and the reader follows the t-shirt's journey beginning in the U.S. and travelling across continents. The author introduces us to real characters involved in the making of the t-shirt who are both personal and engaging. At the same time, the author provides economic and political analysis to support her story. Some readers who may be less interested in the economic data can skim through these details, however, the end result is a comprehensive understanding of the economic and political forces behind the making of the classic American t-shirt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scarlet_Magnus More than 1 year ago
Free trade, policies, regulations, globalisation, and relative wealth. The author did a great job in making these topics eye openers. A very thought provoking book on these subjects as well for people like me who were anti-globalist.

The book is about as exciting as it gets for an economics related book. This book would be great for Philosophy and Political Science readers/majors/students and I would highly recommend this book for all to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am very impressed with this book-I am reviewing it for my book group soon. The fact that she would update information on the net, following her book, is outstanding.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never taken an economics course, and I am not at all sure why I decided to read this book, but I loved it. By focusing each section on a few people whose lives exemplified the principles emphasized, the principles became understandable and interesting. Fascinating historical tidbits are scattered throughout. It was clearly written, and had a helpful summary at the end. I have told many of my friends how informative this book was for me and have recommended it to my book club, and we will discuss it in March. I would recommend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are taking Economics, it's an EXTREMELY helpful book. It really takes you deep into hard times and money problems.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Overall a good book. I encourage people to read the book, just to look at the impact U.S Policy and U.S. Trade regulations can have on an industry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1999, author Pietra Rivoli attended a Washington, D.C. demonstration against globalization. A young woman asked the crowd, 'Who made your T-shirt?' before she described worldwide labor abuses and mistreatment of garment workers. That shouted question and the assumptions implicit in it stimulated the author¿s imagination. She decided to find the answer. Her compelling book tracks T-shirts from the Texas cotton fields, through manufacturing in China, to consumers in the U.S. and to Africa¿s used clothing market. In this interesting, original approach to the issues of globalization and industrialization, Rivoli shows the economic, political and social forces that come to bear on a T-shirt. Through she can¿t literally track a single shirt step-by-step, she sustains that metaphor. Buying a shirt, she works her way backward in time and space to find its origins, or the origins (and eventual lifespan and demise) of such T-shirts, by relying on inference, deduction and reasonable assumption. Her most stunning, most negative conclusion is that - despite debates over free trade and allegedly exploitative markets - everyone involved seems devoted to avoiding market forces altogether. We say this book deserves its own T-shirt with 'Must Read' on the front and 'Highly Recommended' on the back.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mark Twain once said everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it. Similarly, everyone wears t-shirts but hardly anyone understands where they come from or how they got here. Thankfully, Pietra Rivoli has demystified the subject in a way that is informative and interesting. One part social history, one part human interest, one part trade policy primer, this book tells a story in a way that is engaging, instructive, and revelatory. Whether you are a teenager shopping at A & F, someone interested in history, or a seasoned business executive (like me), I guarantee this book will make you alter your perception and inform your daily life.