Cover image for Money makes the world go around
Money makes the world go around
Garson, Barbara.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2001.
Physical Description:
342 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HG3891 .G37 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A veteran business journalist takes us on a global gallop through international finance by investing her book advance from VikingWith the same fresh and fearless inquisitiveness that characterized her classic workplace history, All the Livelong Day, Barbara Garson takes on the marketplace of money. Her quest: to find out who wins and who loses in a world united by the free flow of capital. In a hilarious and instructive tour of the global economy Garson deposits her Viking book advance in a one-branch, small-town bank and in an aggressive mutual fund. From those points of departure, she tracks her money's every stop, talking to the people who touch, use, or are touched by it. Her conversations with Wall Street bankers, Chinese labor contractors and Texas oil company treasurers--all of whom get a piece of her investment--transform our understanding of money. Money Makes the World Go Around is a classic--headed for the same shelf as the new economy works of Michael Moore and Michael Lewis.

Author Notes

Barbara Garson is the author of the play MacBird!, as well as two classic books about work, All the Livelong Day and The Electronic Sweatshop. Her other plays include Security and the Obie Award-winning children's play The Dinosaur Door. She has written for The New York Times, Harpers, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and Newsweek. For her nonfiction, journalism, and playwriting, she has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a National Press Club Citation. She lives in New York City

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
The Bank Deposit
It's a Wonderful Lifep. 7
The Sun Never Setsp. 25
Looking for Loans in All the Wrong Placesp. 41
Striking Oilp. 66
Gone Fishingp. 100
Honesty Is the Best Policyp. 137
The Investment
Plunging into the Marketp. 177
Now There's a Bright Ideap. 191
Restructuringp. 207
Outsourcingp. 229
Six Months Laterp. 244
Fellow Shareholdersp. 253
"Sunbeam Audit Finds a Mirage, No Turnaround"p. 263
Restructuring Hits Homep. 272