A think-tanky look at the geopolitical causes for the close financial integration of capitalist America and communist China.
It’s enough to make a Cold Warrior spin, but the fact is, researcher/pundit Karabell (Peace Be Upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence, 2007, etc.) writes, “a world where credit doesn’t flow is as inert as one where the power has gone out.” Thanks to economic reforms initiated more than a quarter-century ago by Deng Xiaoping, China has by now acquired the wherewithal to provide credit to the capitalist world in exchange for markets, favored-trade status and, increasingly, economic power and influence abroad. Indeed, the once-poor nation is likely to emerge as the world’s leading economy by 2030, if present trends continue. This wealth was won by industry, sacrifice and deferral of desire. Against this, Karabell considers the American way of conducting business, which would appear to feature a studied inability to learn from past mistakes. Other pundits have decried the mortgaging-to-the-hilt of America, its T-bonds tucked away in the vaults of Shanghai and Hong Kong, but Karabell is not alarmed, inasmuch as an ever-wealthier China represents a huge market for Western goods. Witness, he notes, the success of the Caterpillar tractor company there, a success that has allowed small manufacturing towns in America to survive. The author is very much in the rah-rah school of rhetoric, chatty, diffuse, verbose and all but number-free. In one typical passage, he notes that the Chinese were once as unfamiliar with KFC as “a resident of Kentucky was with fried crickets, goose testicles, roasted silkworms, or a Guizhou Province delicacy called the ‘three squeals,’ made from rat embryos”—that is, a lot of wasted words to make an obvious point.
A middling book in which many important issues are buried—harder figures and sharper analysis would have helped.