A detailed, well-illustrated overview of Mongolian small businesses that are growing with the help of local microcredit.

READ REVIEW

PORTRAITS OF CHANGE

An inside look at some of the small businesses driving Mongolia’s economic growth and future.

After several decades of working in development finance, the author has written his first book, focusing on the role of microcredit in Mongolia, where he spent several years running the World Bank’s operations. The book profiles 10 entrepreneurs from different regions of the country; they all had built their businesses with small loans from XacBank, a local bank that was established during the country’s transition from communism to a more free-market economy. The businesses profiled include both rural and urban operations that provide services ranging from medical care in remote communities to beekeeping to freshly baked bread to insulation that allows traditional Mongolian houses to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels for heating. In addition to an overview of the business and the importance of XacBank funding, each profile includes the entrepreneur’s personal story, plans for the future and views on topics such as corporate social responsibility to Mongolia’s blend of traditional and modern ways of life. The book begins with an overview of Mongolia from its earliest days to the present, covering the basics for readers unfamiliar with the country’s history of empire, occupation and independence, or with its ties to and conflicts with both Russia and China, its largest neighbors. Full color illustrations on every page give the reader a vibrant picture of modern Mongolia, from its skyscrapers to its nomadic herders, and photographs of the featured entrepreneurs and their businesses show the concrete results of microlending. The author’s enthusiasm for XacBank is evident throughout, and the book concludes with a profile of the bank since its founding, along with commentary from current and former executives. While the uncritical admiration of XacBank’s role in developing Mongolia’s economy may give readers pause, they should note that the book is less an analysis of microfinance in Central Asia than a compelling series of case studies that celebrates some of Mongolia’s recent success stories.

A detailed, well-illustrated overview of Mongolian small businesses that are growing with the help of local microcredit.

Pub Date: July 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-1468067880

Page Count: 200

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2014

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...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more