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The keys to global business success, as taught by a T-shirt's journey The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a critically-acclaimed narrative that illuminates the globalization debates and reveals the key factors to success in global business. Tracing a T-shirt's life story from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory and back to a U.S. storefront before arriv The keys to global business success, as taught by a T-shirt's journey The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a critically-acclaimed narrative that illuminates the globalization debates and reveals the key factors to success in global business. Tracing a T-shirt's life story from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory and back to a U.S. storefront before arriving at the used clothing market in Africa, the book uncovers the political and economic forces at work in the global economy. Along the way, this fascinating exploration addresses a wealth of compelling questions about politics, trade, economics, ethics, and the impact of history on today's business landscape. This new printing of the second edition includes a revised preface and a new epilogue with updates through 2014 on the people, industries, and policies related to the T-shirt's life story. Using a simple, everyday T-shirt as a lens through which to explore the business, economic, moral, and political complexities of globalization in a historical context, Travels encapsulates a number of complex issues into a single identifiable object that will strike a chord with readers as they: Investigate the sources of sustained competitive advantage in different industries Examine the global economic and political forces that explain trade patters between countries Analyze complex moral issues related to globalization and international business Discover the importance of cultural and human elements in international trade This story of a simple product illuminates the many complex issues which businesspeople, policymakers, and global citizens are touched by every day.


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The keys to global business success, as taught by a T-shirt's journey The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a critically-acclaimed narrative that illuminates the globalization debates and reveals the key factors to success in global business. Tracing a T-shirt's life story from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory and back to a U.S. storefront before arriv The keys to global business success, as taught by a T-shirt's journey The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a critically-acclaimed narrative that illuminates the globalization debates and reveals the key factors to success in global business. Tracing a T-shirt's life story from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory and back to a U.S. storefront before arriving at the used clothing market in Africa, the book uncovers the political and economic forces at work in the global economy. Along the way, this fascinating exploration addresses a wealth of compelling questions about politics, trade, economics, ethics, and the impact of history on today's business landscape. This new printing of the second edition includes a revised preface and a new epilogue with updates through 2014 on the people, industries, and policies related to the T-shirt's life story. Using a simple, everyday T-shirt as a lens through which to explore the business, economic, moral, and political complexities of globalization in a historical context, Travels encapsulates a number of complex issues into a single identifiable object that will strike a chord with readers as they: Investigate the sources of sustained competitive advantage in different industries Examine the global economic and political forces that explain trade patters between countries Analyze complex moral issues related to globalization and international business Discover the importance of cultural and human elements in international trade This story of a simple product illuminates the many complex issues which businesspeople, policymakers, and global citizens are touched by every day.

30 review for The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade. New Preface and Epilogue with Updates on Economic Issues and Main Characters

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Very interesting economics study. A Georgetown U. economics professor attended a protest demonstration and listened to one of her students speak from a bull horn deriding the plight of third world sweat shop workers. She asked, "Is that true?" and so she spent the better part of three years researching and documenting her studies. Rivoli describes the history and application of cotton agriculture, trade with China and Southeast Asia and the evolution of the global textile industry. Finally, we l Very interesting economics study. A Georgetown U. economics professor attended a protest demonstration and listened to one of her students speak from a bull horn deriding the plight of third world sweat shop workers. She asked, "Is that true?" and so she spent the better part of three years researching and documenting her studies. Rivoli describes the history and application of cotton agriculture, trade with China and Southeast Asia and the evolution of the global textile industry. Finally, we learn about the second life market and how discarded western apparel donated to Goodwill and Salvation Army is a billion dollar industry in Africa. This does not have the personality or quirky appeal of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, but it is chatty, anecdotal and entertaining.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    (4.5) Surprisingly good, though not surprisingly not much actually about the path of her T-shirt In-depth investigation of the history and politics of the industries that touch T-shirts: cotton production, processing, apparel manufacturing, shipping, recycling. She traces the history of each of these industries from their birth to today, then picks apart the current trends driving the industries today. Particularly eye-opening were the fights over tariffs and import quotas on apparel...many parti (4.5) Surprisingly good, though not surprisingly not much actually about the path of her T-shirt In-depth investigation of the history and politics of the industries that touch T-shirts: cotton production, processing, apparel manufacturing, shipping, recycling. She traces the history of each of these industries from their birth to today, then picks apart the current trends driving the industries today. Particularly eye-opening were the fights over tariffs and import quotas on apparel...many parties changed sides from a protectionist stance to a free-trade stance and vice versa. But she explains it all quite well so it actually all makes sense. I was worried this would be like those other journalist-written books where they stitch together 5 articles and fluff it up to 300 pages...especially since the impression I got from the title was that she'd just take us to each of the factories that touched her shirt and give her impressions of what she saw. But turns out she's actually a business school professor, and she really did her homework. Other tidbits I liked: * US textile industry lobbied to get customs officers trained to spot illegal socks (this on top of their usual duties of finding weapons etc.) * Francis Cabot Lowell as industrial espionage, stealing secrets of British power looms and other technological advances to jumpstart the US textile industry and the American industrial revolution I don't think her style of injecting commentary about feedback from the first edition is the best. It's kind of weird to read a book that's referring to itself. I guess I would've preferred that she just put that in a preface or afterward for the edition. But it wasn't too disruptive. I was also entertained to hear her mention two economists, Economy and Cline, and (late 18th century physician and) activist Percival (three of us who sit near each other at work have these surnames as well ;) ).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Akshay

    Very interesting book! Highly recommended for those in Textile industry, readers interested in global trade and economics or in general a curious soul like me. Things I did not know before reading the book - 1. Agriculture (subsidies and technological revolutions in the seeds and farming area) 2. Textile production ( Economies of scale in China and US south, social structures deciding workforce, and human rights) 3. Voter blocks, lobbyist, politics of quota and relations between countries that d Very interesting book! Highly recommended for those in Textile industry, readers interested in global trade and economics or in general a curious soul like me. Things I did not know before reading the book - 1. Agriculture (subsidies and technological revolutions in the seeds and farming area) 2. Textile production ( Economies of scale in China and US south, social structures deciding workforce, and human rights) 3. Voter blocks, lobbyist, politics of quota and relations between countries that drive import and export . 4. Mitumba: Resale of used clothes in east African countries- social and economical pros and cons 5. NAFTA, TPP and other trade agreements. Book is written like a story and keeps you engrossed. Special thanks to the author for writing epilogue to add commentary on recent events.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything asks clever questions and explores them in clever ways. It's a fun read. But if you're going to read just one popularized economics book this year, I recommend The Travels of a T-Shirt. It breaks the major rule of economics-qua-science: it is an extended anecdote with frequent detours into cultural history and popular biography. As my scientist friends like to remind me, and as Rivoli herself is at pains to point out, the Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything asks clever questions and explores them in clever ways. It's a fun read. But if you're going to read just one popularized economics book this year, I recommend The Travels of a T-Shirt. It breaks the major rule of economics-qua-science: it is an extended anecdote with frequent detours into cultural history and popular biography. As my scientist friends like to remind me, and as Rivoli herself is at pains to point out, the plural of anecdote is not data. To which I reply: that is why I am not a scientist. I really do believe you when you say that anecdotal evidence can create a profoundly skewed picture of how a system works, and that respectable analysis requires a broader view. But I'm never going to be the one who does that analysis, and if you want me to get some purchase on what you're talking about, you'd better tell me a story. Rivoli spins a fascinating yarn about the spinning of yarn, from the growth of the cotton in Texas to the manufacture of the t-shirt in China (with possible detours to one or more smaller Asian countries in order to get around U.S. import quotas) to its afterlife as a "vintage" collectible, or a part of someone's wardrobe in Tanzania, or maybe a component of your car's roof. My favorite part was the description of the amazingly efficient global trade in the cast-off clothing of consumptive Americans. The book deftly describes some of the ridiculous contortions trade policy undergoes in response to political pressures. She recognizes the good that activism has done in pressing improvements on the working conditions of the poor, while cautioning the activists against wholesale uncritical condemnation of free markets. The story, or stories -- you have to go back through the whole history of industrialization to make sense of How We Got Here -- she tells give conceptual pegs on which to hang a basic grasp of the issues at stake in the fraught conflicts about economic globalization. I feel better equipped to understand the news about the WTO or bilateral trade negotiations -- maybe not in depth, but less bewildered by the polar absolutist pronouncements of free-marketers and hard core protectionists. I wish she had gone into more depth about the place of international shipping in all this activity. It does get a brief treatment near the end of the story, but I'm still unsure about what to think about the costs, both financial and environmental, of shipping cheap cotton goods two and a half times around the world to maximize profit and opportunity. It makes me a little queasy to think about all the fuel that I assume gets burned to get me my cheap dollar store socks. If the cost of oil continues to skyrocket (a not unreasonable expectation, from what little knowledge on the subject I have), will it eventually hamstring the seemingly inevitable forward march of globalization? Or can we count on the magic of the market to motivate some inventive souls to come up with sustainable ways to move super freighters? The other thing I wished for more information on was a passing comment in the conclusion of the book: "For centuries, trade was a subject of moral and religious debate rather than economic analysis ... Indeed, in perusing the early Christians' debates over trade, I’m struck by the complete absence of economic discussion..." WAIT! I demanded. GO BACK! What early Christian debates are you talking about? I want to read them!! (I should check out the print edition to see if it has footnotes -- but not likely. Maybe I'll just have to write to the author.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Pietra Rivoli bought a souvenir T-shirt, and then she wrote a book about it. Inspired to explore the lowly T-shirt by an anti-WTO rally, she determined to look at the issues related to cotton farming, to clothing manufacture, and ultimately to the used-clothing trade. If there is one message in this book, it is that free trade in the world of cotton is myth. With one exception, that is. More about that later. First Rivoli traces the story of cotton as a critical commodity. The preeminence of the U Pietra Rivoli bought a souvenir T-shirt, and then she wrote a book about it. Inspired to explore the lowly T-shirt by an anti-WTO rally, she determined to look at the issues related to cotton farming, to clothing manufacture, and ultimately to the used-clothing trade. If there is one message in this book, it is that free trade in the world of cotton is myth. With one exception, that is. More about that later. First Rivoli traces the story of cotton as a critical commodity. The preeminence of the US as a producer of cotton was tied to the nefarious slave economy, but it was research and technology that led to the productive and dominant farm business that it is today. That and a whole lot of government support — up to 19 cents on a 59-cent pound of cotton. It’s very difficult for other countries to compete. Then there’s the matter of producing the T-shirt. We tend to believe that China has a grip on the market, but China is also losing textile jobs. Some place with a cheaper work force (read: female, young, desperate) will always be in the wings. The only way to save such jobs long term is protectionism, which is alive and well in the US — and costing taxpayers $135,000-$180,000 per job saved. The book introduced a mind-numbing litany of trade associations, lobbying groups, and trade agreements, each with its own acronym (AGOA, NAFTA, CBTPA, ADTPA, ATC, MFA, ACMI, LTA, ATMI, ITCB). Finally Rivoli found her free trade: in the used clothing business. People donate to the Salvation Army or Vietnam Veterans. Skilled sorters in the US find the garments worthy of the second-hand market at home. Rejects are bundled and sold in bulk, bound for market stalls in Tanzania. Market shoppers are savvy about which T-shirts are best for the fashions of their city, and they haggle to take them home. No subsidies, no government support, and it all works. An excellent and readable book about the complexities of world trade.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aditya

    This is long, carefully researched and well written book about the history, geography, culture, politics and trade in cotton and cotton textiles in particular and trade in general. The author gives an excellent overview of how politics, culture and money interact to create complex trade policies in US and around the world. Although a cotton T-shirt is the last thing you would expect governments and interest groups to fight over, it is surprising to find the number of lives it affects. It is fasc This is long, carefully researched and well written book about the history, geography, culture, politics and trade in cotton and cotton textiles in particular and trade in general. The author gives an excellent overview of how politics, culture and money interact to create complex trade policies in US and around the world. Although a cotton T-shirt is the last thing you would expect governments and interest groups to fight over, it is surprising to find the number of lives it affects. It is fascinating to know how difficult it is to grow cotton; and how the US (a proponent of capitalism and free trade) has some of the most restrictive trade barriers in order to favor a particularly small constituency of voters. The fact that a T-shirt can serve not only as an item of clothing but also as a developmental aid for poor economies, a status symbol for the wearer; and a means of livelihood for thousands of people, points to the complexities of globalization and trade. The author does a good job of presenting the facts and history behind some issues, but does not give a very strong personal opinion about the whole thing. It is a must read for someone interested in economics, trade, globalization as well as human rights.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    There is a prologue and a lengthy prologue to the prologue, before we get into the details of Texas cotton farming and being thoroughly educated on the history of cotton farming in the US. That is followed by a very brief chapter about China that focuses on sweatshops, giving the impression that there is nothing else there. Then follows an over-detailed and way too long chapter on trade policies, quotas and politics. At that point I nearly tossed the book, because it was not only painfully borin There is a prologue and a lengthy prologue to the prologue, before we get into the details of Texas cotton farming and being thoroughly educated on the history of cotton farming in the US. That is followed by a very brief chapter about China that focuses on sweatshops, giving the impression that there is nothing else there. Then follows an over-detailed and way too long chapter on trade policies, quotas and politics. At that point I nearly tossed the book, because it was not only painfully boring, but also extremely out-dated. The only part of the book that had some life to it and kept my interest, was the last chapter about the African trade in second hand clothing. Too long, too much about cotton farming and politics in the US, very little on world trade, too many details and statistics, too many anecdotes about people that I didn't connect with. Very, very out-dated. The book could have done with an update, a revision or even a lengthy additional chapter showing the developments after the actual end of the quota system. A lot has happened since 2005.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    There has been a lot written recently in blogs and traditional media about the environmental impact of a cotton T-Shirt. This book is the granddaddy of all of them. In a well-written and succinct book, Prof. Rivoli tells us about how this most ubiquitous item of western attire is created, used, and disposed of - once, twice, and maybe a third time. Using both objective facts and personal anecdotes, this book is both educational and enjoyable. Although I read it a little while back and the book its There has been a lot written recently in blogs and traditional media about the environmental impact of a cotton T-Shirt. This book is the granddaddy of all of them. In a well-written and succinct book, Prof. Rivoli tells us about how this most ubiquitous item of western attire is created, used, and disposed of - once, twice, and maybe a third time. Using both objective facts and personal anecdotes, this book is both educational and enjoyable. Although I read it a little while back and the book itself is only five years old, a cursory glance at current articles about "the lifecycle of a t-shirt" were long on clever facts and graphics and short on attribution to this engaging, but seminal work. (Okay, maybe most people would not call it "seminal", but it was an early attempt to bring the impact of the lowly tee shirt to our attention.) i think it is an excellent book for the curious of any stripe.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alvaro Berrios

    What a superb book. Whether you’re a free trade supporter, a staunch protectionist, or a fierce labor activist you need to read this book! This is hands down the most unbiased book I have ever read from the perspective that all sides of the debate are tdiscussed or addressed. And whatever your beliefs are, I guarantee that you will find something in this book that will cause you to stop, and possibly re-think or tweak some of your own ideals. The book is well-written, immensely informative and t What a superb book. Whether you’re a free trade supporter, a staunch protectionist, or a fierce labor activist you need to read this book! This is hands down the most unbiased book I have ever read from the perspective that all sides of the debate are tdiscussed or addressed. And whatever your beliefs are, I guarantee that you will find something in this book that will cause you to stop, and possibly re-think or tweak some of your own ideals. The book is well-written, immensely informative and tremendously humorous. The author, Pietra Rivoli, takes you through the journey of how one of her t-shirts got to America. From the cotton fields of Texas, the to manufacturing plants of China, through the complex web of trade rules and regulations, and to its final resting place in Africa. It is truly an amazing journey and one of the best books I’ve read. This is not your typical econmics book and it is a must read!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Francis

    Incredible education on globalism, free markets, protectionism, textiles and cotton.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bibhu Ashish

    It was wonderful to read the book and get so much insight into how the global trade works. Though the book is all about the cotton and apparel industry, it can be applicable to any industry in this world of globalization. It throws a lot of light on how politics affect the global trade. Another interesting aspect which the book dealt with so nicely was that it is not the globalization which hampers the local economies, but it is the political reaction, political response and political involvemen It was wonderful to read the book and get so much insight into how the global trade works. Though the book is all about the cotton and apparel industry, it can be applicable to any industry in this world of globalization. It throws a lot of light on how politics affect the global trade. Another interesting aspect which the book dealt with so nicely was that it is not the globalization which hampers the local economies, but it is the political reaction, political response and political involvement in the global trade which creates a lot of confusion and distress for a local economy. The book shows that quota and restrictions not only decelerates growth of any economy, they also impede the movement of people to economic freedom. There are a lot of critics out there who are against global trade and who fear that the unleash of cheap goods from one economy to another economy will hurt local economy. But as the book shows with a lot data that this is a very simplistic approach to understand how globalization impacts people, Industry and world economy and may be a wrong perspective to look at the phenomena of global trade. The book took a long time for me to complete. But the time spent on this book was worth every second in understanding the idea being put forward by the author Dr. Pietra Rivoli. A book highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Burnett

    An economist follows the life of her t-shirt in painful detail. Rivoli starts in the cotton fields of Texas and ends up in Tanzania in the rag and second-hand clothing market. She spends plenty of time in Asia along the way, specifically China, and shares a somewhat dispassionate assessment of sweat shops. Rivoli spends way too much time talking about the textile lobby in the United States. Throughout, she presents her analysis in a narrative form, and therefore focuses on specific characters an An economist follows the life of her t-shirt in painful detail. Rivoli starts in the cotton fields of Texas and ends up in Tanzania in the rag and second-hand clothing market. She spends plenty of time in Asia along the way, specifically China, and shares a somewhat dispassionate assessment of sweat shops. Rivoli spends way too much time talking about the textile lobby in the United States. Throughout, she presents her analysis in a narrative form, and therefore focuses on specific characters and companies to illustrate more comprehensive principles. Her touchstone for the textile lobby is Auggie Tantillo, who led some acronym-laden clothing collective. Rivoli referred to them at least 500 times as "Auggie Tantillo and his alphabet army." I got sick of it very quickly and nearly quit reading on its account. If I ever meet Dr. Rivoli, I will kick dirt on her shoes the way an angry baseball manager would to an erring umpire. Rivoli finds an interesting balance between activists and exploitative corporations; both are needed to make markets work in an "acceptable" manner. She also does a nice job of separating political machinations from true economic principles and highlighting how complicated global trade really is.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Keller

    An even-handed look at globalization. My views on protectionism and off-shoring were, to say the least, uninformed prior to reading this book. Now, through the lens of this industry, I can see more of the complexity of interaction between the workers, the government regulation, business, and the customers. I highly recommend this book to everyone. The only weakness is also the book's strength, that is, the author's coverage of the topic is so thorough that it becomes tedious in spots.

  14. 5 out of 5

    A

    This book is extremely racist and imperialist. I read it, way back when, in a class on outsourcing/sweatshops/globalization and knew, even as an impressionable 16 yo, that it was a hot pile of garbage. Frankly stunned at others calling it “revelatory” and “educational.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brice Karickhoff

    A few years ago, about the same time I started to hear grumblings over the injustice of sweatshops, I happened across Christopher Blattman's work on the centrality of sweatshops to economic and social development. I read a bit on the issue, but ultimately understood both sides and deemed the answers too complex and moved on. I am sooo glad I read this book because it did so much to answer those festering questions and many more! Rivoli writes this shirt about a t-shirt she bought (the most averag A few years ago, about the same time I started to hear grumblings over the injustice of sweatshops, I happened across Christopher Blattman's work on the centrality of sweatshops to economic and social development. I read a bit on the issue, but ultimately understood both sides and deemed the answers too complex and moved on. I am sooo glad I read this book because it did so much to answer those festering questions and many more! Rivoli writes this shirt about a t-shirt she bought (the most average one imaginable), and the enormous journey it made into her hands. The entire book was sort of an anecdote for global trade as a whole. I thought the book was informative, thought provoking, and very well balanced. It began with the history of cotton farming in the US, which ultimately explained why so much of the world's cotton is still sourced from Texas. Then it traveled with the cotton to China's sweatshops, but not without surveying this history of low cost labor and investigating the trends that tend to repeat. The shirt then is exported back to the US, which involved a conversation on trade legislation and the political balance between free-trade and protecting domestic industry (theres textile workers in the US you know). Finally, after the t-shirt is bought and worn, it is usually given away, winding up in the hands of a company that sells it at a low price to small business owners in Africa, who then resell the t-shirt. Rivoli made this entire process much more interesting than it sounds, and she did so well to build themes that ran the course of the book - activism vs market forces, globalization vs protectionism, the dignity of the poor, political leverage, the nature of work in a persons life as a whole, etc. I have two very minor negative comments on this book. First, the 50 page section on trade legislation in the US, while important, was insufferably boring. It took me longer to read those three chapters than the rest of the book combined. Second, I wish she followed the t-shirts life through its ultimate disposal. I get why that may have been hard, but "and then an African buys it in a street market" seemed sort of like an incomplete ending to the t-shirts story. As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Yes, the content was interesting and informative, but what truly made this book was Rivoli's writing style and well-developed and justified opinions. She balanced technical, historical, and narrative writing very well. More importantly (to me), she did not carelessly write off any party in the political debate over global trade, but she took a nuanced neutral stance that acknowledged the validity of both sides, and the necessity that they both exist. She highlighted the situation we would be in if either the capitalists or the activists entirely prevailed and leaves the reader (myself) quite convinced that both sides ought to continue to exist and fight for their way.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

    Detailed, in-depth review of t-shirt trade. Four sections: 1. Cotton 2. Manufacturing 3. Tariffs / quotas (politics) 4. Recycling All very insightful. Here were my main takeaways: 1. Free trade and globalization are actually beneficial to the environment. Rich countries demand better, cleaner products and set higher standards. International manufacturers want to meet those standards, so they implement the most strict standards in their production. 2. Production of clothing is not actually the most d Detailed, in-depth review of t-shirt trade. Four sections: 1. Cotton 2. Manufacturing 3. Tariffs / quotas (politics) 4. Recycling All very insightful. Here were my main takeaways: 1. Free trade and globalization are actually beneficial to the environment. Rich countries demand better, cleaner products and set higher standards. International manufacturers want to meet those standards, so they implement the most strict standards in their production. 2. Production of clothing is not actually the most damaging to the environment. Instead, it's how we maintain it - using dryer and hot water to wash is much more damaging environmentally 3. China's hukou system has helped to maintain its position as a leader in textile manufacturing. While other countries grow out of the industry, China hasn't as much because the hukou system allows them to keep wages low for migrant workers, and labor conditions poor 4. USA produces a shit load of cotton every year. Partially because of subsidies, but also because of technological advances. Poor countries have labor cost advantage, but that actually prevents them from innovating, which makes their yields constant rather than increasing like in the US 5. Industrial revolution in UK was triggered by developments in the textiles industry. These developments increased productivity, thereby lowering prices, and allowing poor people to dress attractively, giving birth to a consumer class 6. The textile lobby in the US has considerable influence because of its geographic connectivity (concentrated in the south) and deep bonds (mostly family businesses that go back generations together). As a result, they've been able to secure lots of benefits from politicians over the years, more successfully than most other interest groups. 7. Per the US constitution, trade policy is the responsibility of congress. However, Congress's best interests is to be protectionist, as they are subject to local elections every few years. Therefore, congress setting trade policy will be inherently protectionist 8. Recycled clothing mostly goes to Africa. I used to go to markets in Rwanda and wonder where all the clothes came from. This makes sense. Typically filtered in the US first, then sold for pennies per pound. Once it gets to Tanzania, it goes to the markets. The best products accounts for 90% of the profits 9. Giving these clothes to Africans is often criticizes as preventing their economies from growing (my problem with Tom's). Author argues against that though, saying that this process creates different and more jobs (hustlers at the markets and ports). 10. USA has big trade deficit. Practically, that means too many boats from China are sending stuff to USA, but they are empty on the way back. This creates very cheap freight prices if you want to send stuff to China. Consequence of this and china's low labor cost is that even more processing work can be taken over from Americans. For example, filtering recycled clothes into different tiers is labor intensive in USA. China could do this cheaper even accounting for additional transport costs 11. USA has gradually eliminated quotas for t-shirts imports from other countries over last decade. That has shifted more volume to cheap countries that can produce fast, like China and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the poor working conditions are exacerbated by the lack of quotas. Sweatshop owners can push their people for more output, and since there's no governance structure to protect workers, it ends up creating human rights issues

  17. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    This is not the kind of book I normally read. I enjoyed it for the most part as it was pretty fascinating. Parts of it were slow but otherwise not too bad.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This book shows you a bit of the lives of several people along the supply chain and trade routes of T-shirts, including American cotton farmers, Chinese factory girls, trade lobby etc. This is the main contribution of the book and probably also what makes it appealing to many people. However, I found many of the points made quite obvious. American cotton farmers compete based on technology, machinery and generous subsidies, Chinese textile manufacturers on low wages... Another weakness of the boo This book shows you a bit of the lives of several people along the supply chain and trade routes of T-shirts, including American cotton farmers, Chinese factory girls, trade lobby etc. This is the main contribution of the book and probably also what makes it appealing to many people. However, I found many of the points made quite obvious. American cotton farmers compete based on technology, machinery and generous subsidies, Chinese textile manufacturers on low wages... Another weakness of the book is in the discussion of the latter point: It is too simplistic. Chinese manufacturing has benefited a lot from low-cost labour, but that's not all. Good infrastructure, efficient supply chains, technology adoption etc also contribute significantly to Chinese competitiveness. Other countries (that the author doesn't even look at) have much lower wages than China, but are only very gradually becoming more competitive. It's not all about wages, as the author seems to believe. Nor is China all about low wages and transition from socialism to market economy. The book also doesn't provide an in-depth analysis on some issues that should be central. The race to the bottom for example. No clear definition is provided. Instead, whenever there is some international competition or the industry moves from one country to another, the author calls it race to the bottom, including anything between the first real textile industry in Britain to China's domination of the industry. However, the accounts she collected don't support the idea that Chinese workers have been any worse off than American workers 200 years ago - they actually show the opposite. Why then call it race to the bottom?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    An engaging read and a good book even if you only have a layman's understanding of economics. Very interesting to hear about the people she met along the way while researching. I disagree with some of the author's conclusions in the last section but there was a lot of good information in here to consider. She believes that the path to world peace is the free market, and believes that it empowers everyone it comes in contact with. I'm unsure that she's in an unbiased position to make such broad st An engaging read and a good book even if you only have a layman's understanding of economics. Very interesting to hear about the people she met along the way while researching. I disagree with some of the author's conclusions in the last section but there was a lot of good information in here to consider. She believes that the path to world peace is the free market, and believes that it empowers everyone it comes in contact with. I'm unsure that she's in an unbiased position to make such broad statements. Also, there were point where she would just draw a conclusion, as though it were the only explaination possible. For example, discussing socialism in Tanzania she talks about how it's failure was proof enough to determine that socialism could never work and keeps referring to it as "a broken operating system"--never mind the social, historical and global factors that...just maybe...had an effect too.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Zuech

    Earlier this year I listened to a series of podcasts done by NPR Planet Money from 2013. They followed the life of a T Shirt throughout the creation and life after. This series was based off of this book so I wanted to read it while the podcasts were still fresh in my mind. Although the material is a little outdated since it was written in 2005 I found it surprising relevant to today's topics. This book talks about globalization versus protectionism at least in the textile and apparel industry a Earlier this year I listened to a series of podcasts done by NPR Planet Money from 2013. They followed the life of a T Shirt throughout the creation and life after. This series was based off of this book so I wanted to read it while the podcasts were still fresh in my mind. Although the material is a little outdated since it was written in 2005 I found it surprising relevant to today's topics. This book talks about globalization versus protectionism at least in the textile and apparel industry and with the current administration's protectionism mentality it made the overall underlying discussion relevant even if the players are different. The book also went over the history of the cotton and textile industry that I found fascinating. Overall Pietra made the subject at hand interesting and I found it well written.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I think this book should be required reading for schools from HS and up. Many, many people only repeat the propaganda put out by activist groups (ie: anti-trade) without any real knowlege of what they are saying. This book would help to clear up their incorrect thought processes and open their eyes to at least some as to what is really happening in the big picture of trade. I learned so much from this book even having a financial background. I told my friend it was like taking a college class wi I think this book should be required reading for schools from HS and up. Many, many people only repeat the propaganda put out by activist groups (ie: anti-trade) without any real knowlege of what they are saying. This book would help to clear up their incorrect thought processes and open their eyes to at least some as to what is really happening in the big picture of trade. I learned so much from this book even having a financial background. I told my friend it was like taking a college class without spending the $2K or without having to write a paper. I highly recommend this book if you want a real picture of what is exactly happening to us & "them" when we open our borders to trade.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    There was a horrifying moment when I was reading this book about economics and politics and boll weevils where I found myself laughing out loud. Who am I. I did actually enjoy reading this book, even though the economic and political topics are not always my favorite. But I'm reading this for a sociology course and the class discussions definitely elevate the book. And the voice of the author was compelling and engaging enough to keep me turning the pages (without falling asleep) and make me laug There was a horrifying moment when I was reading this book about economics and politics and boll weevils where I found myself laughing out loud. Who am I. I did actually enjoy reading this book, even though the economic and political topics are not always my favorite. But I'm reading this for a sociology course and the class discussions definitely elevate the book. And the voice of the author was compelling and engaging enough to keep me turning the pages (without falling asleep) and make me laugh, which was quite an unexpected feat. Eye opening, interesting, and not duller than plain Cheerios. Thumbs up in my book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jac

    This read more like a dense textbook on history and globalization than the tale of the t-shirt that I was expecting, but it was still a good read. I had to skip chapters in the end to get through it, but learned a ton. Recommend to those who are interested in labor rights, globalization, and international trade. Not much in it on manufacturing though, which I had been hoping for.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pep Bonet

    Very illustrative and informative.Rivoli tries to describe all the approaches to international trade and textiles. Not that she doesn't show her ideology in doing this, but writes in a non-pamphlet way, checking both sides of the divide between protectionists and free-traders. And it contains a certain number of surprises, revelations. Time well spent

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Thought it'd give more insight into the economics of globalism, but ended up with more knowledge about cotton production than I ever really cared to know about.

  26. 4 out of 5

    CTEP

    I read The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli. The author is an economist who observed a demonstration at Georgetown University of students who “peacefully occupied the university president’s office until the university and its apparel suppliers agreed to address the alleged “sweatshop” conditions under which Georgetown T-shirts and other licensed apparel were produced” (page xvi). Rivoli picked up a t-shirt from a Walmart-equivalent store bin, and set out to expose the I read The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli. The author is an economist who observed a demonstration at Georgetown University of students who “peacefully occupied the university president’s office until the university and its apparel suppliers agreed to address the alleged “sweatshop” conditions under which Georgetown T-shirts and other licensed apparel were produced” (page xvi). Rivoli picked up a t-shirt from a Walmart-equivalent store bin, and set out to expose the origins of her T-shirt; from the cotton fields in Lubbick, Texas, to the factories in China, back through the tariff-laden ports of the United States, and, finally, onto their last stage of life into markets in Africa as second-hand clothing. Through her adventure, connecting her to people all over the globe, Rivoli brought both sides of the globalization and free trade debate to the table. I was fascinated to read about and come to a better understanding >of the long-run debate on globalization, especially when it comes to >understanding its impact on our job market in the United States. Pietra >discussed the past ebbs and flows of the job market in the United States, >especially as it is affected through outsourcing. One of our participants >at Wilder and I had a discussion on her current job loss at a factory in >the north suburbs and how her job was lost due to outsourcing, and how >that brought her to her current position of being a client in one of our >transitional housing and employment services programs at Wilder. It >created conflict in my own position on globalization. How do I balance >wanting to aiding the developing countries in our world and supporting the >supply of progressive job opportunities for them, while keeping a >competitive, brimming job market in the United States to employ our >clients at Wilder? It’s a catch-22. >Pietra also discusses how technology has impacted the job market in the >United States and abroad overtime, starting with the technical advances in >the cotton industry, taking it to our current state of being able to >communicate globally via the Internet. That has allowed companies in the >United States to maintain a competitive presence in the economy through >easy communication with their plants abroad. The WTO claimed that >outsourced re-employable individuals in the United States could find jobs >in the IT arena, but those are also being moved to China, India, where >there is apparently an educational emphasis on computer sciences. With >factory work and telemarketing jobs being outsourced, the job market >tightens in those areas for Wilder participants in programs that require >them to look for a job. >Piedra winds down the book by discussing the economy and our environment, >how economic activity can stir environmental concern. And how our economic >involvement requires us to take responsibility in the environment, however >that looks for our personal position and influence in the world. >“Prosperity brings out the best in human nature […] and economic growth >can be the solution to our environmental challenges” (260). >This book gave me a broader understanding of our economy works, with a >peek into small family-run businesses to corporations on a global scale. >I could write more on work ethic in cultures that have not historically >been driven or motivated to make technological or economic advances due to >personal political and economic barriers in their country. And how that >helps explain some of the psychological factors that come into play when >helping our clients that are new Americans find a job, and how we must be >sentitive to that. A better understanding of the market and economy of the United States, and the world, will help us in whatever career path we divert to or continue on. This book opened my eyes to trade policy, outsourcing, differing labor standards, market constraints, set quotas, the politics behind trade, and how global trade really connects the world together. All of these affect our economy – which inexorably affects the job market (our AmeriCorps positions, and the individuals we work with). I would recommend this book. Other than a few lengthy chapters on trade policy containing numerous acronyms, this book was an easy read. Though I have scoffed at companies for their understated support of sweatshops in choosing where to purchase their merchandise, it was interesting to read the author’s take on the liberation and path-off-the-farm that sweatshops provide for many people. (Not to demote or quiet activists in this arena, we need to keep a watchful eye of companies and labor standards around the globe.) It reminded me I need to be better informed before I take a stand on an issue, or you’ll end up looking like an idiot.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    Totally did not expect that this would be a page-turner for me! This book was written so well for readers like me who are generally in a fog about politics, trade, and economics. Yet it was so captivating, it did not lose its sense of importance about our modern-day issues. "The Travels of a Tshirt in the Global Economy" 2nd edition, follows the phase of a t-shirt's life from the inception of an idea all the way to the final destination home. Although a t-shirt is a simple metaphor, the author e Totally did not expect that this would be a page-turner for me! This book was written so well for readers like me who are generally in a fog about politics, trade, and economics. Yet it was so captivating, it did not lose its sense of importance about our modern-day issues. "The Travels of a Tshirt in the Global Economy" 2nd edition, follows the phase of a t-shirt's life from the inception of an idea all the way to the final destination home. Although a t-shirt is a simple metaphor, the author encompasses complex layers and the world's surroundings. The book employs everything from historical to political, economical, and social contexts to its current-day updates on technology and international issues. . Basically, using a tshirt can create a huge story about our world and what it used to be and where we are now. Cleverly written and organized, the author packs this book with extensive research, stats, interviews, policies, and also utilizing elements of her own opinions on free trade and markets. Personally, I initially thought this book was all about economics and expected some boredom ahead, but reading through the first few chapters, it was quite not so. The writer illustrates history, ideas, social contexts through the lives of everyday people involved in these businesses/transactions, no matter the country nor the continent. One can also see why this book has been translated into so many languages. This book was first published in 2009 but the data and events are actually up to 2008; which leaves us to learn that a lot can happen within a ten-year period. Therefore, the reader is left to understand that although the historical framework may remain the same but it up to us to conclude that the 2008 occurrences may be different today. The book includes an epilogue that provides the latest update since its latest publication, but even so, in a few years’ time, even that can become outdated, just like a PC. Readers are to continue to look to the internet for the current news - which is typically not a bad thing, since it motivates each of us to maintain awareness of the latest policies and going-ons that was initiated from this book. The book goes into detail about the cotton industry and its beginnings. The cotton industry is introduced at the start of the book, but it is also part of the finale. The idea of a tshirt's life starts from a thread and it becomes a boll of cotton, it then lays the foundation of what it is created, as time goes on. It travels to another place, sometimes countries to be pieced together, then it comes back to another country be bought and worn. Eventually, the time has come for it to be given away, and then yet again, travels to another country to be sold as a used item. Along the way and throughout its lifecycle, a simple tshirt travels far and wide in miles, and can stir up a "world" of emotions as it relates to everything across the board: finance/economics, international and domestic policies, globalization, regulations/tariffs, social/moral/ethical issues, and so on. ~Terri C.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mya

    This book was painfully boring. The only reason I read it was because I had an economics book report. There were other choices but all the copies of Superfreakonomics (the book that all my classmates wanted to read) were taken at the library and I wasn't going to buy a book I knew I wouldn't be interested in. I don't have enough money to buy books I will only read once. I thought T-shirts would be okay. Why not learn about sweatshops? It's a sad yet interesting topic. I got anything but that. Th This book was painfully boring. The only reason I read it was because I had an economics book report. There were other choices but all the copies of Superfreakonomics (the book that all my classmates wanted to read) were taken at the library and I wasn't going to buy a book I knew I wouldn't be interested in. I don't have enough money to buy books I will only read once. I thought T-shirts would be okay. Why not learn about sweatshops? It's a sad yet interesting topic. I got anything but that. The author spent the least amount of time possible to discuss that. One of the best parts of the book was talking about the history of growing cotton... Yes it was so boring that genetically modified cotton was one of the best parts. If it wasn't for me trying to get this done before Thanksgiving break I would have given up. While the author barely spent any time on the conditions of the Chinese workers went into way too much depth on the lobbying for quotas on Chinese textiles. This is one of those books that you hold as an accomplishment that you finished in the first place let alone finished in the day. I don't know how I could have handled this book if it was stretched over a long period of time. Several unnecessary breaks had to be taken while reading this book to keep my sanity. Near the lobbying part I had to shut down my phone just to get through it. Learning what happens to clothes once you donate them was kind of interesting on the boring spectrum but in general I doubt I will willingly read any economic books in the future.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rosie K.

    Read for a Government class, Politics of International Trade. I had mixed feelings about this book at first, but having finally finished it, I definitely think it's a book worth reading. The author, who is a professor, deeply examines the life of a cheap T-shirt she bought, while also explaining the broader facts, events, patterns, etc. about trade. A couple of the most important points I took from this book is that the textiles/clothing industry and its trade are not free to begin with, so it's b Read for a Government class, Politics of International Trade. I had mixed feelings about this book at first, but having finally finished it, I definitely think it's a book worth reading. The author, who is a professor, deeply examines the life of a cheap T-shirt she bought, while also explaining the broader facts, events, patterns, etc. about trade. A couple of the most important points I took from this book is that the textiles/clothing industry and its trade are not free to begin with, so it's beside the point to ask about the good and bad consequences of free trade with regards to this, at least. It's all about the politics. I think the author was quite fair in writing about the factory workers in China; yes, their lives are better than they were before on a farm, but they certainly could be better, and the author doesn't downplay that. I also enjoyed the fourth part, following the lives of clothes after donation, particularly the mitumba industry in Africa. The second point, addressed at the very end, speaks about environmentalism, and how fighting for protections shouldn't be the only focus. There's power in, and a place for, optimism and innovation and investment in clean energy, new technologies that don't pollute, etc. I haven't been swayed to think mega-corporations are suddenly our friends, but given their money and our morals, applying solarpunk beliefs and attitudes can do a lot to push us toward a better future.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeni Enjaian

    I read this book upon recommendation of my economics professor after mentioning the Marketplace podcast series on making a T-shirt. While this book was not terrible, I enjoyed the podcast series much more. I did enjoy how Rivoli discussed the history and historical implications of each stage of the t-shirt's journey. She dives in and revels in the history, making illumination connections. The sheen wears off when one remembers the t-shirt supposedly at the center of the journey and finds difficul I read this book upon recommendation of my economics professor after mentioning the Marketplace podcast series on making a T-shirt. While this book was not terrible, I enjoyed the podcast series much more. I did enjoy how Rivoli discussed the history and historical implications of each stage of the t-shirt's journey. She dives in and revels in the history, making illumination connections. The sheen wears off when one remembers the t-shirt supposedly at the center of the journey and finds difficulty remembering where in the journey the t-shirt may be located at certain parts of the book. At other times, Rivoli dives too deep into the complicated government regulations on imports, a key part to the journey but a part which needs a simpler, more comprehensive explanation. This point is where Marketplace far outshines Rivoli. Finally, as the years progress, many other economic events, legislation, and regulations have come down the pike since the publication of this book in 2005. The global economy moves too fast for paper to keep up with. I do not either recommend or refrain from recommending this book.

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