The Great Tradeoff: Confronting Moral Conflicts in the Era of Globalization

by Steven R. Weisman
January 2016
Book Description

The global financial and economic crisis that began in 2008 has blasted livelihoods, inspired protests, and toppled governments. It has also highlighted the profound moral concerns long surrounding globalization. Did materialist excess, doctrinaire embrace of free trade and capital flows, and indifference to economic injustice contribute to the disaster of the last decade? Was it ethical to bail out banks and governments while innocent people suffered?

In this blend of economics, moral philosophy, history, and politics, Steven R. Weisman argues that the concepts of liberty, justice, virtue, and loyalty help to explain the passionate disagreements spawned by a globally integrated economy.

Data disclosure: The data underlying the figures in this analysis are available here [xlsx].

Selected chapters and sections are provided for preview only.

Preface [pdf]

1. What We Talk about When We Talk about Globalization [pdf]

I The Conflicts of Liberty and Justice

2. Economic Liberty: From Freedom of the Seas to Freedom of Capital

3. The Wolves and the Lambs: "Justice, Justice Shalt Thou Pursue"

4. Justice for All: Defining and Measuring Inequality [pdf]

II The Conflicts over Instilling Virtue

5. The Hazards of Moral Hazard

6. Government and Just Deserts: A Brief US History

7. Bubbles, Panics, Crashes, and Bailouts: Moral Hazard in the Marketplace

8. Who's Afraid of Debt? Debt as a Public Policy Tool

III The Conflicts over Loyalty

9. The Moral Imperative of Loyalty [pdf]

10. Grappling with the Communitarian-Cosmopolitan Tradeoff [pdf]

11. Loyalties in Conflict: Jobs, Communities, and Multinational Corporations

12. Who Governs? The Role of Liberal Internationalism

13. Pulling Together the Threads




Index [pdf]

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Book Data

January 2016
ISBN paper 978-0-88132-695-6
232 pp.

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Commentaries on This Book

These questions have absorbed my former colleague Steven Weisman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics for some years now. His new book, "The Great Tradeoff: Confronting Moral Conflicts in the Era of Globalization," provides an excellent text for the discussion we need. Weisman painstakingly avoids dogmatism and is careful in laying out the often-agonizing choices we face.

—E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post

I only wish that this book had been written when I was still teaching at Syracuse. I would surely have assigned it. It's an important achievement that a lot of people should understand. I think that this tradeoff between moral concepts and indeed the interplay between morals and markets is something that we deemphasize in our modern understanding of economics.

—Arthur C. Brooks, American Enterprise Institute

This was an exceptional piece of work. It was obviously well written because that's what he's been doing for a long time. It was thoughtful because he's a thoughtful guy. It was incredibly researched as you heard him and Arthur Brooks describe. And it was balanced.

—Steven Rattner, Former Counselor to the Secretary of the US Treasury

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