Globalization Requires Safety Net, U.N. Says
By Michael A. Fletcher and Christopher Twarowski
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 2, 2008; Page D03
Greater government intervention is needed to moderate the severe economic swings and inequalities that seem to be an unavoidable byproduct of globalization, according to a United Nations report released yesterday.
Pointing to food riots in dozens of poor countries whipsawed by soaring prices for wheat and other staples, and to the rising income inequality that has become a too-common feature of economies in the developed world, the report says that no one is immune from the sometimes cruel consequences of global economic forces. But governments should do more, both individually and collectively, to protect people from their harshest impacts, it says.
The U.N.'s 2008 World Economic and Social Survey calls for greater regulation of international capital flows, more generous foreign aid and perhaps the guarantee of a minimum income to the world's poorest residents. Domestically, countries should do more to cushion their citizens against economic changes that have left them less secure. In poor countries, the insecurity can take the form of hunger and food shortages; in developed nations it often means stagnating wages and growing income inequality.
"Markets cannot be left to their own devices in respect of delivering appropriate and desired levels of economic security," the report says.