Brightly written, in Economist tradition, and of much interest to fiscal wonks, geopoliticians and investors.



The East, to steal a line from Mao, is red: red-hot, that is, economically, and on the way to reshaping the global economy.

Former Economist editor-in-chief Emmott (20:21 Vision: Twentieth-Century Lessons for the Twenty-First Century, 2003, etc.) credits George W. Bush with doing one thing—one thing—right in his years in the White House: forging close ties with India, or at least attempting to do so. Though far behind many other Asian economies, by Emmott’s account, India has the wherewithal and the population to rival China and neutralize its power in the coming years. “George Bush’s recognition of that fact,” Emmott writes, “was his Richard Nixon moment”—that is, a climactic moment akin to Nixon’s rapprochement with China precisely to balance Soviet power worldwide. The playing fields are different, of course, now that China has extended itself into the global economy and the local economies of most of the world’s nations; yet, Emmott hazards, China’s economic growth will likely plateau in about 15 years to a comparatively modest but still healthy five percent per annum, whereas India’s will keep on growing at ten percent thereafter. It is no small matter that both countries may “treble their economic output” by 2025, and, as Emmott writes, “Asia is going to carry on getting richer and stronger, probably for a long time to come.” Japan fits in the scheme less centrally, but Emmott envisions a sort of free-trade zone among Japan, Korea and China, a scenario that becomes happier and more probable under the assumption that Korea unifies and that Chinese communism becomes even less communistic. Japan remains nervous, of course, about its longtime Chinese foe, one reason for “Japan’s anxiousness to involve India in regional affairs.” Emmott closes with a series of policy recommendations, including that the U.S. government declare “that it sees Asian integration and intraregional cooperation as desirable.”

Brightly written, in Economist tradition, and of much interest to fiscal wonks, geopoliticians and investors.

Pub Date: May 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-101503-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet