A canny snapshot of a sprawling, kaleidoscopic and ever growing marketplace.



A sharp tour d’horizon of the East’s significant market opportunities.

Business-strategy consultant and Financial Times columnist Simpfendorfer (The New Silk Road: How a Rising Arab World Is Turning Away from the West and Rediscovering China, 2009) writes with vibrancy and enthusiasm, yet neither disguises his closely argued, multipronged business advice to merchants and investors. Once primarily a manufacturer, the East—which Simpfendorfer considers to be the span from Beijing to Jakarta to Istanbul, with Cairo an important consideration—is now as much a market. The East is growing, and along with that growth comes complexity and the side effects of doing business abroad—e.g., cultural tastes, income variations, regulations and national currencies. The author, who has two decades of experience working in the region and brings a respectful sensitivity to doing business in the global marketplace, has witnessed this extraordinary transformation of the area, now comprising 50 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of its Muslim population. The scope of the region’s market is vast and varied, and it requires much more intimate knowledge than that gained managing from afar; there will be a critical need for country managers and local staff on the ground. Simpfendorfer is both persuasive and common-sensical as he counsels businesses to explore the halal market, the exhilarating film scene, and entertainment ranging from cricket to Korean pop music. He points to serious potential problems looming ahead—clean water, pollution, waste removal, energy conservation—and the various cultural and economic obstacles that have thwarted dealing with these issues. China, being central to this transformation, garners much of the author’s attention, and his recommendation is not to put all your eggs in one basket but to partner up with other emerging economies. In China, “the state sector grew more powerful as it squeezed out private firms and turned back the clock on market reforms,” though only the negligent would overlook China’s “143 mid- and large-sized cities with populations larger than 750,000.”

A canny snapshot of a sprawling, kaleidoscopic and ever growing marketplace.

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-137-37005-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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