Synopses & Reviews
In the 1980s and 1990s many in the West came to believe in the myth of an East-Asian economic miracle. Japan was going to dominate, then China. Countries were called tigers” or mini-dragons,” and were seen as not just development prodigies, but as a unified bloc, culturally and economically similar, and inexorably on the rise.
Joe Studwell has spent two decades as a reporter in the region, and The Financial Times said he should be named chief myth-buster for Asian business.” In How Asia Works, Studwell distills his extensive research into the economies of nine countriesJapan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Chinainto an accessible, readable narrative that debunks Western misconceptions, shows what really happened in Asia and why, and for once makes clear why some countries have boomed while others have languished.
Studwells in-depth analysis focuses on three main areas: land policy, manufacturing, and finance. Land reform has been essential to the success of Asian economies, giving a kick start to development by utilizing a large workforce and providing capital for growth. With manufacturing, industrial development alone is not sufficient, Studwell argues. Instead, countries need export discipline,” a government that forces companies to compete on the global scale. And in finance, effective regulation is essential for fostering, and sustaining growth. To explore all of these subjects, Studwell journeys far and wide, drawing on fascinating examples from a Philippine sugar barons stifling of reform to the explosive growth at a Korean steel mill.
Thoroughly researched and impressive in scope, How Asia Works is essential reading for anyone interested in the development of these dynamic countries, a region that will shape the future of the world.
"Americans often imagine that an 'economic miracle' is taking place across all of Asia, a region of vast internal differences and contradictions. The truth is more complex and tentative. In his latest book, journalist Studwell (The China Dream), founder of the China Economic Quarterly, surveys nine nations: China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. At a time when ideas of 'geographic pre-destination' and 'Ã¢Â€Â˜nothing-can-be-done'' developmental thinking abound, Studwell reports on the striking differences between these nations. Taiwan, for one, 'gives us a powerful reminder that geography is not destiny in development.' The book first reviews land policies, then considers basic manufacturing, including autos, cement, fertilizer, steel, and textiles. Studwell writes gripping country-by-country profiles of companies that together provide ample evidence of the brutality with which economic development is conducted. Dwelling on Hyundai, Studwell admires the 'extraordinary success of Korea's manufacturing development policy' and the prospects for trade there. He concludes with a lucid review of China's confusing economic policies, arguing that the country remains mired in government inefficiencies and slow institutional development. Readers will find Studwell's informative and balanced report eye-opening. Agent: Claire Alexander, Aiken Alexander Associates Ltd. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Joe Studwell is the founding editor of the China Economic Quarterly. A freelance journalist in Asia for over twenty years, he has also written for the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Asian Wall Street Journal and the The Far Eastern Economic Review. He is the author of The China Dream and Asian Godfathers.