Welcome to my website! I’m an economist, historian, and journalist with a long track record of writing and speaking about economic and business issues. My book The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, which explains how a seemingly simple innovation made globalization possible, received many awards. The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America, which explores the fascinating history of government efforts to crack down on chain stores to protect mom-and-pop retailers, won praise across the ideological spectrum and was published in a second edition in 2019. My 2016 book, An Extraordinary Time, is an unusual take on the miserable decade of the 1970s, showing how the sudden end of the postwar boom led voters in many countries to choose leaders who promised to cut government down to size — Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Helmut Kohl, and others. But they couldn’t bring back the good times, because rapid productivity growth, the critical ingredient in higher living standards, is something political leaders can’t deliver.
My latest project, Outside the Box, presents an unorthodox history of globalization. It shows that the international economic relationships we’ve known since the late 1980s, based on intricate long-distance value chains, are only a stage in the process of globalization — a stage that was waning long before Trump, Brexit, and COVID-19. But I contend that globalization is far from over; rather, it is moving into a stage in which the flow of ideas and services will be much more important than the flow of boxes filled with goods.
The links above will bring you to my biography, to information about my books, to some of my recent articles, and to my contact information.