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Fishman shops at Wal-Mart and has obvious affection for its price-cutting, hard-nosed ethos. He also understands that the story of Wal-Mart is really the story of the transformation of the American economy over the past 20 years. He's careful to present the consumer benefits of Wal-Mart's staggering growth and to place Wal-Mart in the larger context of globalization and the rise of mega-corporations. But he also presents the case against Wal-Mart in arresting detail, and his carefully balanced approach only makes the downside of Wal-Mart's market dominance more vivid. Through interviews with former Wal-Mart insiders and current suppliers, Fishman puts readers inside the company's penny-pinching mindset and shows how Wal-Mart's mania to reduce prices has driven suppliers into bankruptcy and sent factory jobs overseas. He surveys the research on Wal-Mart's effects on local retailers, details the environmental impact of its farm-raised salmon and exposes the abuse of workers in a supplier's Bangladesh factory. In Fishman's view, the "Wal-Mart effect" is double-edged: consumers benefit from lower prices, even if they don't shop at Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart has the power of life and death over its suppliers. Wal-Mart, he suggests, is too big to be subject to market forces or traditional rules. In the end, Fishman sees Wal-Mart as neither good nor evil, but simply a fact of modern life that can barely be comprehended, let alone controlled.
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The "Wal-Mart effect" has become a common phrase in the vocabulary of economists and includes a broad range of effects, such as forcing local competitors out of business, driving down wages, and keeping inflation low and productivity high. On a global scale, Wal-Mart's relentless commitment to "everyday low prices" has had a massive impact on the trend toward importing from countries like China and the resultant loss of manufacturing jobs here. Because of its strict policy on secrecy, surprisingly little is known about the inside workings of the largest corporation ever in the U.S and now the world. Although much has been written before on the legendary story of Sam Walton, Fishman finally takes us inside the carefully guarded workings of the "Wal-Mart ecosystem," where management surrender their lives and families, working 12 hours a day, six days a week, in a near-holy quest toward the never-ending goal of lower prices. He brings to light the serious repercussions that are occurring as consumers and suppliers have become locked in an addiction to massive sales of cheaper and cheaper goods. David Siegfried
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I may be biased because I had the opportunity to have a Q&A session with the author in my MBA class. Read morePublished on March 3 2013 by Sam Bremang
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