Friday, August 22, 2008

Book Review (#19 of 2008)

This was one of the audio books I picked up for $1 at a garage sale recently. I got 3 chapters into it before deciding to make it mandatory reading for my International Economics class this fall.

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli.
Rivoli is an economist at Georgetown Univ. who decided to take up a sweatshop protester's challenge and find out where her t-shirt was made. What follows is a journey through the supply chain and an in-depth look at the complicated rules and regulations on trade.

It's a great historical look at how the U.S. has developed its production, labor standards, and comparative advantages. How America's domination of the cotton market is partly through creative ingenuity and a free enterprise system and partly (though currently probably mostly) through government subsidies and price support programs.

While China and other countries are using their competitive advantage in labor to dominate the market, but how that comparative advantage is slipping away as their economy grows and they begin making more complicated products.

Rivoli also does a great job of showing how free trade agreements such as NAFTA have so many complicated rules for countries that they often don't free up trade much.

Among other things.

I give the book 4 stars out of 5. A must-read for anyone interested in sweatshops, trade, globalization, or economics in practice.

No comments: