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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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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