Wal-Mart’s Tale of Two Cities: From Bentonville to Guangdong

A globalized world of commerce and labor has existed for centuries. The Vanderbilts and the Victorians knew all about the China trade. But today’s globalization differs radically from that of even a few decades past because of the contemporary role played by the corporate king-makers of our day, the big box retail chains that now occupy the strategic heights once so well-garrisoned by the great manufacturing firms of the Fordist era. At the crux of the global supply chains stand the Wal-Marts, the Home Depots, and the Carrefours of our time. They make the markets, set the prices, and determine the worldwide distribution of labor for that gigantic stream of commodities that now flows across their counters.

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