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Here is a book for anyone suffering from a surfeit of Thomas Piketty. Four years ago we were told that the recession signalled the end not just of capitalism but of the US itself. Now that America is proving stubbornly resilient, new ways to ensure its demise have to be invented, and Piketty has stepped in to remind us that its reprieve is only temporary, and that disparities of wealth will finally see it off, and Western democracy with it.

Michael Mandelbaum, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, has a cheerier and more convincing view of our futures, arguing that the next phase of globalisation will be a time of increasing wealth and opportunity for all. The lessons of the last six years should by no means be forgotten, and no politician will ever again say, as Nixon did in 1971, "I don't give a shit about the lira," though nor should we assume that the days of growth are behind us.

Whereas Piketty is forever wagging his moralistic neo-Marxist finger, Mandelbaum prefers to deal with things as they are. His book, he says, does not seek to tell us how the global economy ought to work but how it is likely to work. His prudent optimism is rooted in the assumption that the international economy has displaced preoccupation with large-scale war. Given that his book appeared this spring, it may be objected that the argument that the conquest of territory and the defence of borders have ceased to be the main concern of governments has been overtaken by events in Ukraine, yet in a sense reactions to Russia's neo-primitivist behaviour validate his point.

Putin's hard-nosed antics have led even the Chinese to stand warily on the sidelines, and as the Russian economy shudders and stalls the cumulative costs of his adventure could ultimately bring him down, because like the Chinese Communists his economic backers understand that political legitimacy depends on economic growth. Putin, in a word, is getting himself on the wrong side of history, and while he plays his sordid games with his little green men and his Chechen thugs, technology and market forces are driving globalism forward.

Mandelbaum is too practised a hand to brush aside risks to stability, such as the backlash against cross-border flows of trade and investment, future financial crises, and how the Bric countries will manage the political obstacles to growth they each confront. Meanwhile terrorism remains the most imminent danger, and a single dirty nuclear bomb could bring widespread, market-subverting panic. But the growing legitimacy of market capitalism and the practice of globalisation itself are forces for stability, and on protests against them Mandelbaum is blunt: "No method of organising economic life on the planet other than internationally integrated free markets commands anything like political support necessary to displace the current system."

As Britain and America acted as de facto protectors of international trade, investment and migration, historically "the world has enjoyed one of the benefits of government without actually having one". Today it is still America that safeguards international trade routes, for Russia and China among others, though if the latter developed a large enough navy it could challenge that hegemony, with dangerous results: "Either the US controls the world's sea-lanes or China does; sharing control is not feasible."

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