Richard Melson

February 2005

CFG BOOK REVIEW

CAMBRIDGE FORECAST GROUP:

AMERICA'S TRAP OF INFORMATION CONTROL OVER JAPAN

http://www.cambridgeforecast.org/review.jpg

(Translation of Review from Asahi Shinbun 5/6)

AUTHORS:

Noboru Fujii, Lawrence Feiner, Richard Melson, Muhammad Alwan

PUBLISHER: Hamano Publishing, Tokyo, Japan

COPYRIGHT: Cambridge Forecast Group, 1985

This book provides a new perspective on the dynamics of the world economy. I would recommend this book especially to teachers of social science at this time when the Japanese economy cannot be discussed without a global context. I agree with the book's assertion that we live in a time when we should think of economic growth in global terms, and that the narrow mindset of pursuing only Japanese economic growth must be avoided.

Despite the impression of the book's sensational title, if the theme dealt with in the book were to be summarized, it might be "The Reagan administration and the world economic crisis - its strategies for practical responses."

The book points out that seemingly independent events such as the accumulation of debt in the Third World, situations in the Middle East, U.S.-Soviet relations, and domestic American political activities are indeed structurally interrelated. Although the world view that emerges from this perspective is different from the so-called "common sense" interpretation of international relations, it is logical and consistent in its own way.

The themes discussed in this book center on the changes in the world economy since 1979 to this day and the responses to them by the Reagan administration. FRB chairman Volcker contained the inflation in the late 70's by controlling the money supply, and this policy led to higher interest rates which resulted in the very rapid accumulation of debt by third world countries. In order to solve this, the United States increased its own external debt, while opening its domestic market to third world countries, giving rise to the protectionism which exists today. The book doesn't lay blame on conspiracies of media control as the title suggests, but instead points out that, in the huge waves of structural change in world economy, the Reagan administration attempted to respond unilaterally, without coordination with industrial, OPEC and developing countries. The observation that the nature of the Reagan administration changed from grass roots conservatism to multi-national globalism is also interesting. This book severely criticizes some Japanese perspectives on world economy and U.S. policy which have become normative, and I found this very persuasive in its own right.

As in their previous work, World Economy/Big Prediction (Kappa publishing 1984), the authors base their longterm view on the assumption that modernization of the developing world will be the engine of world economic growth in the future.

Even to a reader who doesn't agree with this prediction, this book should be stimulating. For example, it sees a connection between the invasion of Lebanon by the Israeli army in the spring of 1982 and the default by Mexico in the summer of the same year. A "hypothesis" like this is well worth our notice. It is this kind of strategic thinking that views and understands international situations as an organic whole, without being fooled by the flood of information from the mass media, that the Japanese need today, and with which the book wanted to provide readers.

Review from Asahi Shinbun in 5/86

Translated by Columbia University Tutoring and Translation Agency in 9/94.

See extract below: