All Over the Globe

All Over the Globe

Global Reach: The Power of the Multinational Corporations, by Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller. New York: Simon and Schuster. 508 pp. $11.95.

Large industrial corporations with heavy investments abroad are nothing new. But they used to be concentrated mainly in extractive industries and the direction of their expansion was determined by the location of the mineral deposits in undeveloped areas that lacked the capital and/or the incentive to exploit their own resources.

Not until after World War II did the multinational corporation (MNC) develop in its present shape, a direct result of the dominant position of U.S. capital in a war-weakened world, and of the breakdown of the prewar cartels. Except for oil, the stress now was on manufacturing and distribution; and even in oil, the refining, manufacturing, and distribution end became ever more important. At the same time, investment shifted from the underdeveloped toward the industrial world; and within the Third World, too, the shift was toward manufacturing/distribution. In the process, the reach of the MNC, predominantly U.S.-owned, became truly global.