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The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

ISBN: 978-0-471-72419-3
256 pages
April 2005
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade (047172419X) cover image
Praise for THE TRAVELS OF A T-SHIRT IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

"Engrossing . . . (Rivoli) goes wherever the T-shirt goes, and there are surprises around every corner . . . full of memorable characters and vivid scenes."
Time

"An engaging and illuminating saga. . . . Rivoli follows her T-shirt along its route, but that is like saying that Melville follows his whale. . . . Her nuanced and fair-minded approach is all the more powerful for eschewing the pretense of ideological absolutism, and her telescopic look through a single industry has all the makings of an economics classic."
The New York Times

"Rarely is a business book so well written that one would gladly stay up all night to finish it. Pietra Rivoli's The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is just such a page-turner."
CIO magazine

"Succeeds admirably . . . T-shirts may not have changed the world, but their story is a useful account of how free trade and protectionism certainly have."
Financial Times

"[A] fascinating exploration of the history, economics, and politics of world trade . . . The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a thought-provoking yarn that exhibits the ugly, the bad, and the good of globalization, and points to the unintended positive consequences of the clash between proponents and opponents of free trade."
Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)

"Part travelogue, part history, and part economics, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is ALL storytelling, and in the grand style. A must-read."
—Peter J. Dougherty, Senior Economics Editor, Princeton University Press author of Who's Afraid of Adam Smith?

"A readable and evenhanded treatment of the complexities of free trade . . . As Rivoli repeatedly makes clear, there is absolutely nothing free about free trade except the slogan."
San Francisco Chronicle

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Preface.

Prologue.

PART I:  KING COTTON.

Chapter 1. Reinsch Cotton Farm, Smyer, Texas.

Chapter 2. The History of American Cotton.

Chapter 3. Back at the Reinsch Farm.

PART II: MADE IN CHINA.

Chapter 4. Cotton Comes to China.

Chapter 5. The Long Race to The Bottom.

Chapter 6. Sisters in Time.

PART III: TROUBLE AT THE BORDER.

Chapter 7. Dogs Snarling Together.

Chapter 8. Perverse Effects and Unintended.

Consequences of T-Shirt Trade Policy.

Chapter 9. 40 Years of "Temporary" Protectionism.

PART IV: MY T-SHIRT FINALLY ENCOUNTERS A FREE MARKET.

Chapter 10. Where T-Shirts Go after the Salvation Army Bin.

Chapter 11. How Small Entrepreneurs Clothe East Africa with Old American T-Shirts.

Conclusion.

Epilogue to the Paperback Edition.

Acknowledgments.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Pietra Rivoli, PhD, is on the faculty of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, where she specializes in international business, finance, and social issues in business.
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  • Insights into changing international business models
  • Insights into global economics and the ethics of profiting from developing countries
  • Insights into history and culture
  • Insights into how to succeed in a challenging global marketplace
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"…this book contains some useful insights into the world of PR's 'outrageous stunts' " (Management Today, August 2007)

"It brings history and economics in an enjoyable way..." (Financial Times, 21st September 2005)

“…a fine account of how the countervailing forces of the market and protectionism conflict in combining in a single product…” (Financial Times, 30 July 2005)

"Rarely is a business book so well written that one would gladly stay up all night to finish it..."  (CIO: Chief Information Officer Magazine, June 15, 2005)

"Globalization is a hot-button topic that generates strong feelings along with images of boarded-up, independent businesses in America and exploitative sweatshops overseas. But what exactly is it? In The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, Georgetown University business professor Pietra Rivoli chronicles the round-the-world odyssey of a T-shirt, from Texas cotton-growers to an African used-clothing bazaar, to reveal how the planetary economy really works.
Along the way, we see how entrepreneurial U.S. farmers team with government-sponsored researchers--and take advantage of subsidies and trade barriers--to dominate world cotton production. Migrant workers from Chinese family farms tell why they regard low-wage jobs in Shanghai sewing factories as golden opportunities. And only in that African used-clothing bazaar do we encounter a truly free market where entrepreneurs--perhaps including some future tycoons of the 21st century--utterly rely on pure business skills and instinct. Whether you feel hurt or helped by globalization, you'll certainly understand it better after reading this fascinating account." (Entrepreneur Magazine, May 2005

"...full of memorable characters and vivid scenes..." [and that] "Rivoli excels at making connections." (Time Magazine, March 28, 2005)

"T-shirts may not have changed the world; but this story is a useful account of how free trade and protection certainly have." (Financial Times)

"The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is an excellent piece of work - a thorough, lucid and (best of all) honest examination of how politics and economics intertwine in the real world." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Engrossing….(Rivoli) goes wherever the t-shirt goes and there are surprises around every corner…full of memorable characters and vivid scenes” (TIME)

"Her nuanced and fair-minded approach is all the more powerful for eschewing the pretense of ideological absolutism, and her telescopic look through a single industry has all the makings of an economics classic." (New York Times)

“…Succeeds admirably… T-shirts may not have changed the world, but this story is a useful account of how free trade and protectionism certainly have.” (Financial Times)

“…a fascinating exploration of the history, economics and politics of world trade…The Travels of a T-Shirt is a thought-provoking yarn that exhibits the ugly, the bad and the good of globalization, and points to the unintended positive consequences of the clash between the proponents and opponents of free trade.” (Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“…a readable and evenhanded treatment of the complexities of world trade… As Rivoli repeatedly makes clear, there is absolutely nothing free about free trade except the slogan.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Part travelogue, part history, and part economics, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is ALL storytelling, and in the grand style. Globalization critics who read this book will understand why it is impossible to lift countries out of poverty without the power of free markets, while policymakers will learn the equally bracing lesson that economic progress for the wealthiest of nations means nothing without the democratic political institutions that uplift the poorest of nations. A must-read."
Peter J. Dougherty, Senior Economics Editor, Princeton University Press, author of Who's Afraid of Adam Smith?

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