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Tee Time

Make sense of the global economy by riding the coattails of a T-shirt.

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Globalization is a hot-button topic that generates strongfeelings along with images of boarded-up, independent businesses inAmerica and exploitative sweatshops overseas. But what exactly isit? In The Travels of a T-Shirt in the GlobalEconomy (Wiley, $29.95), Georgetown University businessprofessor Pietra Rivoli chronicles the round-the-world odyssey of aT-shirt, from Texas cotton-growers to an African used-clothingbazaar, to reveal how the planetary economy really works.

Along the way, we see how entrepreneurial U.S. farmers team withgovernment-sponsored researchers--and take advantage of subsidiesand trade barriers--to dominate world cotton production. Migrantworkers from Chinese family farms tell why they regard low-wagejobs in Shanghai sewing factories as golden opportunities. And onlyin that African used-clothing bazaar do we encounter a truly freemarket where entrepreneurs--perhaps including some future tycoonsof the 21st century--utterly rely on pure business skills andinstinct. Whether you feel hurt or helped by globalization,you'll certainly understand it better after reading thisfascinating account.

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