Globalization was the economic buzzword of the 1990’s. But while globalization contributed to unprecedented levels of wealth in the U.S., the hopes that free trade and multinational corporations would lead the Third World out of poverty were not realized. The richest 20% of the world controls 80% of the world’s wealth, and trends are showing the gap between rich and poor countries is only getting wider. Classical economics would argue that free trade and globalization should be good for all parties involved. But as the U.S. has ridden along in its economic limo, much of the world continues to languish in poverty. This disparity could partly explain the anger that has made the U.S. a target for terrorism. Is there a way to tweak the current model of globalization to create a more even distribution of wealth?
Richard Parker, Senior fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University