Cover image for Fortune favors the bold : what we must do to build a new and lasting global prosperity
Fortune favors the bold : what we must do to build a new and lasting global prosperity
Thurow, Lester C.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperBusiness, [2003]

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 24 cm
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HF1359 .T48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Bestselling author and renowned economist Lester Thurow argues forcefully that globalization is not a done deal and we must seize the moment now if we are to create a new global economy in which all can prosper.

In this new book, Thurow examines the newly-forming global economy, with a special focus on the role of the US and the dangers to our own national well-being. He examines such questions as: What's at stake for us in the global economy? Why is it important that the system be equitable and that other countries prosper along with us? What should our goals as a nation be - long term and short term? What are the tough choices that need to be made in our relationship with other countries and world regulatory bodies? What role should we be playing globally? What are the political, economic, social choices / tradeoffs we will have to confront?

Thurow contends that the huge and growing US trade deficit poses grave dangers to the value of the dollar and is putting our own economy in jeopardy.

As the world economy leaps national boundaries, its hallmark seems to be a rising instability and a growing inequality between the first and third worlds. Financial crises in the third world come ever more frequently and seem to be ever more severe. The first world economies seem to be in ever more frantic boom and bust cycles. Globalization causes riots throughout the world and is one factor in the rise of terrorism against the West.

Thurow shows how some nations, including Ireland and China, have embraced the concept of globalization and placed themselves into a position to prosper with growing and productive national economies. He contrasts their positive actions with Japan, whose leaders have allowed the nation to drift into stagnation and have destroyed its prosperity.

He argues that this is the time to choose globalization or be left behind, the time to "build a global economy that eliminates the defects," and he provides plenty of ideas for corporations, governments, economists, and citizens to act upon.

Author Notes

Lester Thurow is the Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1968.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Through his previous works, Building Wealth (1999), The Zero-Sum Society (1980), and The Future of Capitalism (1996), Thurow has shown himself to be at the forefront of futurist economic thought, often making bold statements that governments and business may be loath to acknowledge. In his view of the near-term prospects for globalization, he sees both danger and opportunity looming on the horizon. Japan is the exact model not to follow, a closed system with stagnation, massive debt, denial, deflation, and an endless bear market. On the other hand, those nations that have embraced globalization, such as China and Ireland, have put their workforce in a far better position for what lies ahead. Although in the U.S. we hold highly polarized views on this subject, Thurow suggests a middle way to build a global economy while reducing much of the negative impact we know exists. This is a serious study of a global economic "Tower of Babel" whose forces are still greatly misunderstood. --David Siegfried Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With no viable alternatives to capitalism remaining, says Thurow, the "third industrial revolution" makes a global market economy inevitable. The only question is exactly how the globalization process will unfold. Thurow admits flaws in the capitalist system, but firmly believes the game can be handicapped to reduce some of the inequalities. As the former dean of MIT's business school, the author may be a master economist; his take on matters such as Japan's stagnancy in the 1990s is certainly sharp and insightful. But when he tackles other cultural and social issues, there are enough hyperbolic statements on basic subjects open to debate-such as the assertion that the music recording industry faces "economic extinction" and that the film industry may soon follow-that the reader is not always inclined to trust his judgment. Proposals for global financial reform, such as transforming the International Monetary Fund into international bank deposit insurance, read as pie-eyed rather than visionary. To ensure affordable medicine for the third world, for example, he suggests governments use the principle of eminent domain to scoop up pharmaceutical patents. He has an even more reckless plan for dealing with copyrights and patents, in which the American government would simply allow corporations to ignore intellectual property claims originating in countries that refuse to prosecute their own copyright pirates. Such shaky advice undermines the more effective historical and contemporary economic analysis. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Thurow's premise is that globalization will proceed at a rapid pace whether or not firms and nations choose to participate, that this process has created great challenges, and that the economic future of the world is at stake. Thurow (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of numerous books, e.g., Building Wealth, CH, Mar'00; Head to Head, CH, Sep'92; The Future of Capitalism, 1996) contends that the world is experiencing three simultaneous revolutions: new technologies producing the third industrial revolution; emerging communications technologies that make possible a global economy; and a worldwide movement toward capitalism. He compellingly argues that, although no firm or country is forced to participate in globalization, firms that choose not to will be driven out of business and nations will opt out of the development process. Thurow also analyzes threats to the globalization process, including a collapse of the dollar, the lack of international guarantees of intellectual property rights to stimulate technology development, and the lack of life-saving drugs necessary for development of the poorest nations. To be successful in the global economy, nations, like firms, need a technology strategy. Although no revolutionary ideas are presented, the analysis is thorough and the ideas thought-provoking. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; students, lower-division undergraduate and up; practitioners. D. C. Messerschmidt Lynchburg College



Fortune Favors the Bold What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity Chapter One A Global Economic Tower of Babel Globalization is much like the biblical Tower of Babel. The construction of a global economy has begun. Some are for it! Some are against it. Neither group knows exactly what "it" is. This economic Tower of Babel is being built without a set of construction plans. The neessary architectural drawings aren't even in the proess of being drafted. Governments aren't thinking about the appropriate designs, since the tower is being privately built. National governments would, in fact, rather not think about globalization because it diminishes their role and their powers to control economic events. The actual builders, private firms that are moving their economic activities around the world, don't think about the design and construction of the global economy since each is small relative to what is being built. For those who are true believers in the efficiency of private markets, there is no need to think about the institutions and rules of globalization. Whatever is necessary will simply evolve in the marketplace without private thought or government action. Markets will automatically set the necessary construction standards! As in the biblical Tower of Babel those involved in constructing the global economy are speaking many different languages. Globalization means many different things to many different people. Arguments for and against it are often self-contradictory. Perhaps these different languages and the associated disputes will stop a global economy from being built -- just as they stopped the biblical tower design to go to heaven from being built. If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Have we prevented ourselves from getting to an economic heaven? Or have we prevented ourselves from over-reaching, trying to play God, and ending up in what will surely be an economic hell? Anxieties are high. The violent antiglobalization demonstrations that have occurred at both public (WTO, IMF, World Bank, Seattle, Goteborg, Bologna)and private (Davos) global meetings in the last few years have delivered that message. Although the number of actual demonstrators is few, I suspect that if every newspaper in the world tomorrow were to have the headline "Globalization Ends," far more than half of humanity would feel relieved. In global public opinion surveys less than 20 percent of the population thinks the world is doing well. What do the protestors dislike? What would they like to see happen? Beneath the noise and babble what is their real message? What are they trying to tell us about globalization? They predict disaster! But which of the predicted disasters are possible and which are impossible? For those that are possible, what are the real causes? Real disasters are almost never caused by a single factor alone. Investigators start with a jumble of possible causes that have to be sorted out to find the sequence of individual causes that together produced a particular disaster. The same procedure has to be followed when trying to understand the predictions of disaster by those who are against globalization. The nature of the predicted disasters and their potential causes are all jumbled together. They have to be sorted out. In the conflicting babble generated by the construction of our global economic tower, the problem is to distinguish noise from information -- truth from fiction. The investigator begins by trying to separate out what is true and false in the different arguments. Only when truth has been separated from fiction is it possible to add up the pluses and the minuses to determine whether we should accept or reject globalization. But there is a third choice. The third choice is to build a global economy that eliminates some of the minuses that have been found. Even if the initial summation indicates the benefits far exceed the minuses, the minuses can be further reduced. The global economy will partially evolve in response to foreseen and unforeseen uncontrollable forces, but in the end it is a human, not geological, construction and an be built to different specifications. Globalization can be shaped. But to do so it is necessary to understand the dynamics of globalization so the for es of globalization can be used to change the course of globalization. There are actions to be taken that an enhance the positive effects of globalization and minimize its negative effects. These possibilities are outlined and discussed near the end of the book, since an in-depth understanding of the full range of the forces of globalization is necessary to evaluate the various possibilities. What seem like disconnected problems are often connected problems. In separating the facts from the fiction in all the babble about globalization, it is important to understand that the economic Tower of Babel looks different depending upon where you stand. The rich and successful at the top of the tower see something quite different than do the poor just starting to climb the stairs at the bottom. Those standing far away, outside of the global economy, see a tower with very different contours than what are seen by those working inside the tower. Not surprisingly, the economically,militarily, and politically large and powerful fear the construction of the tower much less than do those who are small and weak. It is not that one of these perspectives is right and the others are wrong. Each focuses on different elements of the tower. All reflect some aspects of the truth. No one an have all these perspectives simultaneously because no one can see the entire tower or the entire truth. That is why those who are rich and successful, large and powerful, and inside the building of the tower have to listen to the views of those who are poor, unsuccessful, small, powerless, and outside of the global economy. The first group cannot see what the second group sees, but the first group can listen to what the second group has to say ... Fortune Favors the Bold What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity . Copyright © by Lester Thurow. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Fortune Favors the Bold: What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity by Lester C. Thurow All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1 A Global Economic Tower of Babelp. 1
2 A Global Superstructure Resting on a Capitalistic Substructure Built with New Technologiesp. 25
3 The View from the Top of the Global Towerp. 46
4 The Voices of Antiglobalizationp. 111
5 Real Dangers to the Global Towerp. 148
6 Looking Up at the Top of the Global Towerp. 183
7 Reshaping Globalization for the Third Worldp. 221
8 Reshaping Globalization for the First Worldp. 245
9 Help Wanted: A Chief Knowledge Officerp. 261
10 The Structure and Attitudes of Successp. 296
Notesp. 311
Indexp. 325