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THE NEW WORLD ECONOMY

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE

A welcome user’s manual for anyone invested in the market or otherwise engaged in the financial sphere.

Thoroughgoing survey of the globalized, interleaved economy and its discontents.

If there is a single takeaway from management consultant Epping’s (A Beginner’s Guide to the World Economy, 2001, etc.) book, it’s that chaos is king and control nearly impossible, whether of a command economy or of world trade. “Success in the new fusion economy,” he writes, “may depend in large measure on learning that we can’t control everything.” Just so, there are many variables in determining whether an economy is performing well or poorly and no single gauge of success or failure; trying to impose that control on it may produce inflation on the one hand or recession on the other—or, for that matter, the mix of both known as stagflation, “a worst-case scenario.” The author takes a somewhat contrarian view on certain matters: While he notes the shortcomings and costs of cryptocurrency, among them the fact that “bitcoin mining” annually uses as much energy as the entire nation of Ireland, he also opines that “the current system isn’t necessarily better than an alternative system using cryptocurrencies.” Epping looks at the facts of global trade and, without naming names too pointedly, exposes the folly of trade wars, tariffs, and other hallmarks of economic nationalism: “Politicians who speak of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in trade don’t understand that all trade in goods and services is balanced by monetary transfers moving in the opposite direction.” In the global sphere, it’s more sensible to blame governments that “allow most of the new wealth to flow into the coffers of the rich" than to blame globalized trade for our woes. Among the other topics that Epping discusses are the externality of pollution, hitherto seldom factored into the cost of doing business but now increasingly important to reckon with, and the economic behavior of different generations, from the acquisitive and consumptive baby boomers to the comparatively frugal (necessarily, as it happens) millennials.

A welcome user’s manual for anyone invested in the market or otherwise engaged in the financial sphere.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-56320-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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