Globalization is under strain as never before. Everywhere its stresses rumble. Most of sub-Saharan Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Central Asia are mired in stagnation or economic decline. North America, Western Europe, and Japan are bogged down in slow growth and risk renewed recession. War now beckons in Iraq.
For advocates of open markets and free trade this experience poses major challenges. Why is globalization so at risk? Why are its benefits seemingly concentrated in a few locations? Can a more balanced globalization be achieved?
No easy answers to these questions exist. Open markets are necessary for economic growth, but they are hardly sufficient. Some regions of the world have done extremely well from globalization - notably East Asia and China in recent years. Yet some regions have done miserably, especially sub-Saharan Africa.
The US Government pretends that most problems in poor countries are of their own making. Africa's slow growth, say American leaders, is caused by Africa's poor governance. Life, however, is more complicated than the Bush Administration believes.