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Globalization Unplugged

Globalization Unplugged: Sovereignty and the Canadian State in the Twenty-First Century

Peter Urmetzer
  • Book Info
    Globalization Unplugged
    Book Description:

    The debate over economic globalization has reached a fever pitch in the past decade and a half with Western governments and multinational corporations trumpeting its virtues and a multitude of activists and developing-world citizens vociferously denouncing it. Both sides would agree that globalization is a recent development that is changing the way people and nations do business, but inGlobalization Unplugged, Peter Urmetzer questions whether national economies are losing their sovereignty and whether the topic of globalization merits as much discussion as it receives.

    Urmetzer's focus is specifically on Canada and he demonstrates that current levels of trade are not unprecedented and, further, that as the economy becomes more service oriented, it will also become less trade dependent. He points out that only a relatively small percentage of Canada's wealth is owned by foreign investors and likewise, only a small portion of the country's wealth is located outside of its borders.

    Disputing claims that the nation-state is weakening or disappearing altogether, Urmetzer shows how the welfare-state side of government spending - conveniently ignored in the anti-globalization literature yet arguably the most significant development in the political economy of the nation-state in the twentieth century - remains remarkable stable. Written with precision and skill,Globalization Unpluggedwill spark controversy on both sides of the globalization debate and help deflate the rhetoric of both advocates and detractors.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7539-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    The concept of globalization has been the subject of considerable commentary and speculation among academics, politicians, and the general public. It has successfully served as a ‘catch-all’ term to explain everything from rapidly changing communications technology to increased unemployment. Globalization has also been perceived as an overwhelmingly powerful force, so much so that even governments are unable to escape its grip. In this new global era the nation-state is, we are told, fast becoming an antiquated institution. Considered only a minor player in the global economy, state action is frequently presented as reactive rather than proactive. Yet despite globalization's purportedly...

  5. Chapter 1 The Life and Times of Globalization: An Unauthorized Biography
    (pp. 13-37)

    In the above quotation, Alice, in a conversation with the most famous egg in history, could well be discussing globalization. The question we shall concern ourselves with in this chapter is whether the word globalization’ can indeed ‘mean so many different things’ and which definition of globalization, if any, emerges as master. Globalization theories have become popular in academia as well as among the general public, and I argue that sociological theories have contributed to political rhetoric in the public realm. The fact that ‘globalization’ has gained currency in both academia and politics is likely more than just coincidence, a...

  6. Chapter 2 Marx, Globalization,and Modernity: What Is Old Becomes New Again
    (pp. 38-47)

    Is it true, as Hegel and then Marx observed, that everything happens twice? With respect to globalization, then, are we living amid tragedy or farce? Or as Goethe would suggest, has the idea of globalization been thought of before? In this chapter I argue that globalization has been thought of before and that it was identified in everything but name by Marx and Engels more than 150 years ago in theirManifesto of the Communist Party. At the time of writing, 1848, the ideas embraced by communists were disseminated in theManifestoto warn of the drastic consequences of capitalism,...

  7. Chapter 3 The World Economy
    (pp. 48-64)

    As the previous chapters have shown, recognition of a world economy not new; use of the word 'globalization/however, is. In the social sciences the debate about the origins of the world economy has been on for some time, long before any discussions about globalization. These debates have been ongoing in economics, political economy, and sociology for decades, with various attempts to identify the at which national economies first started to grow, trade, and interact on a substantial basis. The underlying question driving these inquiries is When did a world economy first begin? This starting point often referred to as the...

  8. Chapter 4 Trade
    (pp. 65-84)

    The impact of globalization is most commonly illustrated by way of trade statistics. This ‘dizzying increase in cross-border exchanges,’ as theGlobe and Mailhas put it, shows an impressive increase in international trade over the past few decades. For the most part, figures presented usually go back to the 1950s or 1960s, but seldom farther. One reason for this lack of data may well be that most organizations that track this sort of activity did not come into existence until after the Second World War. The United Nations (UN) and associated organizations such as the World Bank, the International...

  9. Chapter 5 Foreign Direct Investment
    (pp. 85-100)

    Besides trade, the increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is most frequently trumpeted as evidence of globalization. FDI is rightly considered a better indicator of foreign control than portfolio investments (stocks and bonds), as the latter may stay in the host country for only days, even hours. The rapidity of these transactions has earned this kind of investment the moniker ‘hot money,’ In contrast, FDI often remains in the host country for years or even decades. Here in Canada, nationalists have long expressed fear about foreign investment because of a perceived loss of national control, a concern that long predates...

  10. Chapter 6 The Financial Economy
    (pp. 101-122)

    When discussion drifts towards financial markets, the mix of awe and dread associated with globalization becomes most apparent. This awe is often fuelled by the presentation of gargantuan figures such as a trillion-dollar-a-day currency market or a $23-trillion worldwide bond market. Implicit in these descriptions is that financial markets are out of control.

    In the new global electronic economy, fund managers, banks, corporations, as well as millions of individual investors, can transfer vast amounts of capital from one side of the world to another at the click of a mouse. As they do so, they can destabilise what might have...

  11. Chapter 7 The Retreat of the Nation-state
    (pp. 123-171)

    One of the most powerful myths associated with globalization is that national borders have become so porous that governments are no longer able to properly manage their own affairs. So, either by choice or force, states will eventually cease meddling in the economy, a development that has been observed with some glee by the right. Although less enthusiastic about such an outcome, commentators from the left have, by and large, reached similar conclusions. Based on the assumption that capital has become too mobile for nation-states to control, the has declared that social policy is dead. The title of Teeple's book...

  12. Chapter 8 The Postwar Economy
    (pp. 172-193)

    When testing hypotheses in the social sciences, researchers are advised keep in mind the possibility that an alternative, more plausible explanation may exist. An alternative explanation could well render the present hypothesis invalid. The task of this chapter is to search for such alternative, one that better explains current political and economic developments than globalization. There is little doubt that things are different now than they were in the 1950s or 1960s. Canada’s economy, like most economies around the world, has suffered from slowed growth, higher unemployment, and declining business profits for more than three decades. This has resulted in...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 194-204)

    Now that we have examined an array of data, let us tie it all together to see how this evidence fits with the theory of globalization. In order to do so, let us revisit a typical observation made about the topic: ‘Commentators ... link the decline of the nation-state to the process of globalization, often deploring the loss of national control...’ (Albrow 2004: 475). In the broader context of globalization and all its complexities, exactly what does this proposition mean? How does the process of globalization lead to the ‘loss of national control?’ First we must ask, the globalization of...

  14. Appendix Note on Statistical Sources
    (pp. 205-206)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 207-212)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-226)
  17. Index
    (pp. 227-234)