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Book Review

Book Review 1

FT’s Martin Wolf recommends the following; Losing Control: The Emerging Threats to Western Prosperity (Yale University Press)

Why the west faces a harsher future

  There is much to admire in the hard realism of HSBC’s chief economist, writes  Martin Wolf, but relative decline should not mean diminished prosperity.

     Do you believe the global market economy offers bright opportunities to the west? Do you think, instead, that the best response would be to cut the west off from global trade, capital flows and immigration? Stephen King has an answer to both: you are wrong. The future is going to be tough for the western countries that have enjoyed centuries of economic and political domination. But opting out would make it worse, not better.

    King is chief economist of HSBC. He is also among the most dispassionate analysts of the world economy. In this book, he provides a sobering view of what is happening: western policy-makers do not understand how far the rise of emerging countries is changing the world. They suffer from the illusion that they are in control of events. But events control them, instead.

    In King’s view, many western optimists mistakenly think the rise of the west was due to superior institutions,   particularly the market, and superior science and technology, particularly in commercial applications. He argues, instead, that the west reached its pinnacle at least as much by rent-seeking or, to put it more bluntly, by plundering the world’s physical and human resources. Meanwhile, other civilisations “were disconnected from the world’s productivity engines through the suppression of ideas, innovations and linkages with other nations, or by the violence meted out to them by the western powers”.

    Even in the postwar era, argues the book, high incomes in the west were made possible only by the privileged access of its workers to the world’s most advanced technologies and largest stock of capital. Globalisation and the rise of emerging countries are terminating all such monopoly positions.    

   The result, King argues, is a world that is both different from the one the west imagines and far less friendly. Westerners fail to understand, for example, how far rates of interest are set by emerging countries, above all by China. Again, emerging country supply and demand increasingly determines prices of western imports.

    The results, King insists, have included big mistakes by western policymakers, not least placing too much confidence in inflation targeting at a time of falling dollar prices of manufactures. Similarly, policymakers failed to understand how capital flows had undermined monetary autonomy.  

    Shifts in the global economy have, argues the book, brought large changes in the distribution of income within western countries, in favour of capital and skilled people, and against the rest. Also important is the rise of “state capitalism”: governments, not markets, are managing the outflow of capital from emerging countries; and governments are promoting bilateral deals in investment and trade that may adversely affect western interests   . Meanwhile, as the west ages, it becomes dependent on immigrant workers and returns on investments in emerging countries. The former is unpopular and the latter uncertain.

    As the sleeping giants awake, they will also challenge the west and, above all, the US more directly. The latter, predicts King, will find even the dollar a tarnished asset.

    Do I buy this line of argument? The answer is: yes, but only up to a point. Western relative power is surely in irretrievable decline: how long could 12 per cent of the world’s population hope to dictate to the rest? The relative economic position of westerners   is also deteriorating, rightly so. But it is far from clear that the rise of the rest diminishes prospects for western prosperity. That depends on how Malthusian the world turns out to be – a subject on which people disagree fiercely, without conclusive evidence.

    What cannot be doubted is the scale of the economic and political adjustments ahead. Western children will live in a vastly more competitive world. Handled badly, these adjustments might well lead to global political and economic breakdown. The last is also the conclusion King reaches.

    Maybe, King’s position could be described as tough realism: coping with change is going to be hard, but there is no sane alternative. Marrying an integrating global economy to a fragmented global polity is particularly difficult. Radical institutional reforms are surely desirable, but unlikely. The dangers ahead include the re-emergence of protectionism against trade and capital flows, particularly in response to the rise of state capitalism, and even outright conflict.  

    King concludes that the west can “lose small”, by adapting to the rise of the rest, or “lose big”, by resisting it, instead. He is right. The west should continue to grow more prosperous. But the days of ignoring the impact, interests and ideas of the rest are over – not before time, we must add. 

 

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Book Review 1

  1. ဆရာ့ေဆာင္းပါးက ေကာင္းတယ္ဗ်၊ ကြန္မန္႔ေနရာကိုၾကည့္ေလ၊ ရွင္းေနတာပဲ၊ ဝါသနာတူေတြကမ်ားေတာ့ ဘယ္ကစၿပီးေျပာရမွန္းေတာင္ မသိေတာ့ဖူး။

    ေဆာင္းပါးရဲ့ ေဝဖန္ထားတာေလးေတြက သေဘာတူစရာေတြကေတာ့ အမ်ားစုပါ။ ေျပာထားသလိုပဲ အေနာက္နိုင္ငံေတြရဲ့ က်ဆင္းမႈက ေရွာင္လြဲလို႔မရနိုင္ဖူးလို႔ ယံုၾကည္တယ္။ ဒီမိုကေရစီစနစ္အရ အမ်ားဆႏၵကို အေလးထားရလို႔ လုပ္ကိုင္နိုင္တာေတြ ေႏွးေကြးတာ၊ ဧရာမ အရင္းရွင္ႀကီးအခ်ိဳ႕ရဲ့ေလာဘ၊ ကိုယ္က်ိဳးကာကြယ္ဖို႔ အားထုတ္မႈေတြကလည္း ေဆာင္းပါးထဲကေျပာသလို အခ်ိန္မွီအေျပာင္းအလဲလုပ္ဖို႔ မျဖစ္နိုင္တဲ့ တစ္စိတ္တစ္ပိုင္းအေနနဲ႔ ပါမယ္ထင္ပါတယ္။
    တစ္ခုရွိတာကေတာ့ ကမၻာ့စီးပြားေရးကို တရုတ္နိုင္ငံ တစ္နိုင္ငံထဲ လက္ဝါးႀကီးအုပ္နိုင္လိမ့္မယ္လို႔ေတာ့ မထင္ဘူး။ သူ႔မွာလည္း အလုပ္သမားကိစၥေတြေတာင္ နည္းနည္းေပၚလာၿပီ၊ ေနာင္ဆို အရႉးမီးဝိုင္းျဖစ္လာစရာ အမ်ားႀကီးရွိတယ္လို႔ ယံုတယ္။ ျမန္မာျပည္လိုအပါအဝင္ အသိပညာဗဟုသုတရဲ့ အေရးပါပံုေတြကို အသိအမွတ္မျပဳတဲ့ နိုင္ငံေတြကလည္း စီးပြားေရးအင္အားႀကီးနိုင္ငံေတြကို ပုခံုးထမ္းထားေပးမယ့္ အေနအထားကလည္း ထည့္တြက္ရပါမယ္။
    ဒါ့ျပင္ သယံဇာတအရံေတြမ်ားတဲ့ ရုရွနဲ႔ ၾသစေတ်းလ်တို႔ရဲ့ ကစားကြက္ေတြလည္း အေရးပါလိမ့္မယ္လို႔ ထင္ပါတယ္။ အေနာက္နိုင္ငံေတြမွာ အေတြးအေခၚလြတ္လပ္မႈအေပၚ အေျခခံတဲ့ ပညာေရးနဲ႔ အရင္းအႏွီး (ပညာရွင္နဲ႔ ေငြေၾကး) ဆြဲေဆာင္မႈေတြကလည္း သူတို႔ကိုအနည္းအက်ဥ္း က်ားကန္ေပးနိုင္တယ္လို႔ ထင္ပါတယ္။

    ေတာင္ေရးေျမာက္ေရးနဲ႔ ကေမာက္ကမေတာ့ နည္းနည္းျဖစ္တယ္ဆရာ၊ ဘယ္လိုျမင္လဲ လုပ္ပါအံုး။

    Posted by မန္းကိုကို | 13/07/2010, 11:56
    • ‘ဘယ္လုိျမင္လဲ လုပ္ပါအုံး’ တဲ့။ အင္း.. အဲ့လုိ စစေပးတာ ေတာ္ေတာ္ကို မေကာင္းတာပဲ။🙂 ကြ်န္ေတာ္မွာ deadline အတုိင္း ၿပီးေအာင္မလုပ္ႏုိင္တာေတြ ေတာ္ေတာ္မ်ားေနၿပီ ကိုမန္းကိုေရ။ ကမၻာ့စီးပြားေရးကို တရုတ္တႏုိင္ငံထဲ လက္၀ါးႀကီး အုပ္ႏုိင္မယ္လုိ႔ ကြ်န္ေတာ္လည္း မထင္ပါဘူး။ တရုတ္ခ်မ္းသာလာတယ္ဆုိတာကိုက သူ႔ကို ခ်မ္းသာေအာင္ လုပ္ေပးတဲ့ ပတ္၀န္းက်င္မ်ဳိး ကမၻာမွာ ရွိခဲ့လိုပဲ။ ဆုိင္တဆုိင္ေစ်းေရာင္းေကာင္းတယ္ဆုိတာ သူ႔ဆုိင္ကပစၥည္းကို လူႀကိဳက္ရုံနဲ႔ မရဘူး၊ တဘက္က ေဖာေဖာသီသီ၀ယ္သုံးႏုိင္သူလည္း ရွိရေသးတာကိုး။ တရုတ္က အေမရိကန္တင္မက တကမၻာလုံးကို ပစၥည္းေတြ ေရာင္းတယ္။ (ဘာ၀ယ္၀ယ္ တရုတ္လုပ္ကေန ေျပးမလြတ္ဖူး။) အေမရိကန္ကိုေတာ့ အဓိကေရာင္းတာေပါ့ဗ်ာ။ အေမရိကန္ေတြ ၀ယ္ႏုိင္ေအာင္ကိုပဲ တရုတ္က အေမရိကန္ကို ပုိက္ဆံေခ်းတယ္။ ဒီေတာ့ တဘက္ကၾကည့္မယ္ဆုိရင္ တရုတ္ရဲ ့ၾကြယ္၀မႈဟာလည္း တကယ္ေတာ့ အေၾကြးေပၚ အေျခခံတည္ေဆာက္ထားတဲ့ ၾကြယ္၀မႈပါပဲ။ တခ်ဳိ ့ကေတာ့ လက္ထဲရွိတဲ့ ေငြသားကို အေၾကြးလို႔ မျမင္ၾကဘူး။ ဒါေပမယ့္ တကယ္တမ္းမွာ လက္ထဲရွိတဲ့ ေငြသားဟာလည္း အေၾကြးတမ်ဳိးပဲလို႔ ကြ်န္ေတာ္က ယူဆတယ္။ တခ်ိန္က်ရင္ ဒီပုိက္ဆံနဲ႔ တျခားပစၥည္းတခုခု ျပန္၀ယ္လုိ႔ရႏုိင္မယ္ဆုိတဲ့ ယုံၾကည္ခ်က္နဲ႔သာ ပိုက္ဆံကို လက္ခံထားတာ မဟုတ္ဖူးလား။ တကယ္လုိ႔ ကုိယ္ယုံထားသလုိ ဒီပုိက္ဆံနဲ႔ တျခားအရာတခုခုကို ျပန္မ၀ယ္ႏုိင္ရင္ ကုိယ္ပုိင္ဆုိင္ထားတဲ့ ေငြေၾကးဓနဆုိတာ စကၠဴနဲ႔ ဘာမွျခားမွ မဟုတ္ဖူး။ တရုတ္လက္ထဲမွာ ေျပာခဲ့တဲ့ ေငြသားေတြ၊ တနည္းအားျဖင့္ promisory notes ေတြကေတာ့ အမ်ားႀကီးပဲ။ ဒါေပမယ့္ သူ႔ေငြေၾကးဓနဟာ စိတ္မခ်ရဘူးဆိုတာ တရုတ္လည္း သေဘာေပါက္တာပဲ။ ဒီေတာ့ သူက အေမရိကန္ဆီကေန အဆင့္ျမင့္နည္းပညာေတြကို ယူခ်င္တယ္။ သူ႔ရွိတဲ့ ပုိက္ဆံနဲ႔ အဆင့္ျမင့္နည္းပညာေတြ ဖလွယ္ဖုိ႔ႀကိဳးစားတယ္။ အဆင့္ျမင့္ နည္းပညာ ဆိုရာမွာ သဘာ၀ သိပၸံနည္းပညာအျပင္၊ လူမႈေရး သိပၸံေတြက သုေတသန လုပ္ထားတဲ့ ပညာသုိက္ႀကီးလဲပါတာေပါ့ဗ်ာ။ ဒါေပမယ့္ အေမရိကန္ကလည္း တရုတ္ကုိ ဒီအဆင့္ျမင့္ နည္းပညာေတြ အေရာက္မခံရဲဘူး။ အေရာက္မခံႏုိင္ဘူး။ ဒါလည္း နားလည္လုိ႔ရတာပဲ။ ဒါေတြေပးလုိက္ရင္ သူ႔ေသတြင္း သူတူးသလို ျဖစ္မွာေပါ့။ ၿခဳံေျပာရရင္ေတာ့ ေငြေၾကးဓန အမ်ားႀကီး ပုိင္တာထက္ အဆင့္ျမင့္နည္းပညာေတြကို လက္၀ါးႀကီး အုပ္ႏုိင္သူက တကမၻာလုံးကို လက္၀ါးႀကီး အုပ္ႏုိင္မယ္ ထင္တာပဲ။ ဒီေတာ့ တရုတ္က သူ႔ေငြေၾကးဓနနဲ႔ အဆင့္ျမင့္နည္းပညာေတြကို ဘယ္ေလာက္ စုေဆာင္းႏုိင္မလဲ။ ဒီေမးခြန္းရဲ ့အေျဖဟာ ကိုမန္းကို ေမးတဲ့ တရုတ္က လက္၀ါးႀကီး အုပ္ႏုိင္မလားဆိုတဲ့ ေမးခြန္းရဲ ့အေျဖနဲ႔ တူတူျဖစ္လိမ့္မယ္ ထင္ျမင္ပါေၾကာင္း….

      Posted by zizawa | 13/07/2010, 13:15
    • ဒါနဲ႔ ဒီစာအုပ္ရီဗ်ဴးက ကြ်န္ေတာ္ေရးတာ မဟုတ္ဖူးေနာ္။ Financial Times က Martin Wolf ေရးတာပါ။ သူက ဒီမွာေတာ့ ဆရာႀကီးပဲဗ်။ ကြ်န္ေတာ္လည္း ေတာ္ေတာ္သေဘာက်တယ္။

      Posted by zizawa | 13/07/2010, 13:17
  2. I do not usually reply to blogposts but I will in this case. Seriously a big thumbs up for this one C CLass IP hosting!

    Posted by nainia | 27/07/2010, 10:02

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