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The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic…
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The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World

by Michael Spence

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It had 5 stars right up to the end...where it lost one.

As a previous update while I was reading it said, it's a brilliant book, and should be considered a must-read for anyone who wants or is going to claim they know what's happening in developing markets, China, India, Africa, currency exchange rates, the EU, etc. You might find yourself looking at the USA national debt differently, as well as the policies and plans (real or perceived) of China in regards to their economy, the so-called artificial "pegging" of the Yuan to the US Dollar, and their domestic investment policies.

So what about that one star?

Well, part of the draw of this book is to set awareness and consideration for the changing environmental and energy conditions of the rapidly changing global market against the focus on pure economic growth which pervades all of the thoughts and writings of modern economists. However thoughts on climate change, carbon, and potential energy shortages are dealt with in a fairly offhand and unrealistic manner. He reveals his cards to be merely the same lines we're fed by other economists who's sole focus in life is the eternal pursuit of as large of a growth percentage number as is possible. His only detailed thoughts on any environmental policies consist of advocating carbon credits for the advanced countries and deliberately leaving developing nations out of it, due to the thought that they'll just sell off their credits for huge capital inflows, which while it makes sense, somehow the environmental baby gets lost in a lot of financial bathwater. I personally think the carbon credit system is a band-aid on a festering wound, meaning it provides a mostly cosmetic and political solution without dealing with the actual problem, resulting in the eventual demise of the patient, but even my opinion aside, the scale and timeline of his solutions (I hesitate to even call them that) can be boiled down to:
#1: doing mostly nothing for about 20 years.
#2: not doing so MUCH damage after about 50 years.
A lot of people don't feel that's either realistic or remotely effective. It DOES however make perfect economic sense, and wouldn't effect growth rates in any countries, which I guess is more important to him, and people like him. I'm certainly not amongst that group.

Past that, I felt the end of the book dealt with environmental issues as a fantasy of an afterthought, and entirely ignored energy policy. Considering the USA has a proud history of not actually having an energy policy, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Included at the end of the book is a pointless retelling of the history of the internet which seems to have no place in the book.

This book has a great 3 first parts, and the opening bits of the 4th part are good. It's a brilliant book up to that point, but perhaps the author shows his age after that, approaching climate change, potential energy shortages, and future potential of technology in information systems with the jaded eyes of an older man who senses instinctively that whatever events, problems, and solutions will take place with those factors will probably happen after his passing. It's still a book you should read. Hell, if you're involved with finance, investment, economic development, global trade, you MUST read it. If you would actually like to understand how the largely older, wealthy, white, male, euro-USA people who for the most part move the global economic world view environmental policy, which rather than being mustache-twisting fiends looking to destroy the world for the all-mighty dollar are instead well-intentioned but ultimately misguided people looking for the all-mighty dollar for EVERYONE in all nations, you need to read this book.

But to speak personally, it's nice to think the entire world could be advanced, educated, and more or less wealthy, but it's also really hard to spend money when you're dead for any number of reasons. I think that perhaps a more drastic solution will be required, and that the future of the world isn't an eternal growth rate driven by the constant "creative destruction" of existing business and consequent rebuilding of the worlds business infrastructure, but instead a constantly shifting world devoted to a new type of economic sustainability, where business and individuals move sideways more often than down, and the market is built less on the destruction of competition, and more on the required agreement of joint operations. The competitive free-market is effective, but as Mr. Spence himself points out, to actually work from the viewpoint of both the economy AND the individual, must be backed up by a massive social safety net which there seems to be a lacking force of capital and political will to re-enforce or create. I feel obligated to point out that a safety net is only required when one is doing something dangerous. Dismiss my thoughts as mindless socialist utopia if you like, but I think that barring a catastrophic environmental event or resource driven collapse of society such as climate change, peak oil, etc., the new concept of "sustainable economics" is an inevitable development, as certain as the sun follows the moon. You're free to bark at the moon if you like, but it won't actually change anything. ( )
  wjmcomposer | Mar 31, 2013 |
Concerns the history of growth and development in the modern world, how growth can be sustainable, and what is to be done in the face of the modern economic crisis and collapse.

Primarily discusses emerging economies, and how their variant policies and demographics influence their growth. Although insights here are extremely useful for more developed economies. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374159750, Hardcover)

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011

With the British Industrial Revolution, part of the world’s population started to experience extraordinary economic growth—leading to enormous gaps in wealth and living standards between the industrialized West and the rest of the world. This pattern of divergence reversed after World War II, and now we are midway through a century of high and accelerating growth in the developing world and a new convergence with the advanced countries—a trend that is set to reshape the world.

Michael Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, explains what happened to cause this dramatic shift in the prospects of the five billion people who live in developing countries. The growth rates are extraordinary, and continuing them presents unprecedented challenges in governance, international coordination, and ecological sustainability. The implications for those living in the advanced countries are great but little understood.

Spence clearly and boldly describes what’s at stake for all of us as he looks ahead to how the global economy will develop over the next fifty years. The Next Convergence is certain to spark a heated debate how best to move forward in the post-crisis period and reset the balance between national and international economic interests, and short-term fixes and long-term sustainability.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:37 -0400)

Offers insight into how to sustain growth in advanced and developing countries, explains how the living standard gaps between the West and the rest of the world occurred, and addresses key challenges in the areas of governance, international coordination, and ecological sustainability.… (more)

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