Western Pessimism, Asian Optimism: Three Perspectives on Global Governance

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 28.3 (Fall 2014)

UN General Assembly. CREDIT: Spiff

By Sir Richard Jolly

Governing the World: The History of an Idea, Mark Mazower (New York, Penguin Books, 2013), 496 pp., $29.95 cloth, $18 paper.

Divided Nations: Why Global Governance Is Failing and What We Can Do About It, Ian Goldin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 200 pp., $21.95 cloth, $15 paper.

The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, Kishore Mahbubani (New York: PublicAffairs, 2013), 328 pp., $26.99 cloth, $16.99 paper.

As of 2007 the world economy has been caught in the worst crisis since the 1930s. Yet after two years of only partly successful efforts to mobilize and coordinate global action of financial control and stimulus, ending with the G-20 meeting of March 2009, responsibility for corrective economic initiatives has essentially been left to individual countries, supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU). Moreover, such support has been usually conditional on countries following financial policies of tough austerity. The United States took some actions to stimulate its economy, but by many accounts these were insufficient. Most of Europe has not even attempted stimulus measures and has been in a period of economic stagnation, with falling real incomes among the poorest parts of the population. Although some signs of "recovery" have been heralded in 2013 and 2014, growth has mostly been measured from a lower base. There is little evidence of broad-based economic recovery, let alone improvements in the situation of the poor or even of the middle-income groups.

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