Issue

Trade

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurants and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China, and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities, and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Trade is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Trade

Venezuela: Living in a Dictatorship?

Given the growing inflation of Venezuela’s decaying democracy, a survey of people from different socioeconomic classes shows how difficult it is for them to find and afford the basics.

Cell Phones in Myanmar

Doug Bock Clark recounts how Myanmar's access to cellphones has changed drastically in the past six years.

Loretta Tofani interviews with the Washington Observer

Editor in Chief Lily Chen interviews Pulitzer Center grant-recipient Loretta Tofani about her "American Imports, Chinese Deaths" series. January 9, 2008, the Washington Observer (Mandarin Chinese), a World Security Institute publication. Lily interviews Loretta Tofani, an American journalist, about her call for people's attention to Chinese workers' benefits and rights.

Note: This article is in Mandarin Chinese.