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Until the catastrophic economic crisis of the late 1990s, East Asia was perceived as a monolithic success story. But heady economic growth rates masked the most divided continent in the world - one half the most extraordinary developmental success story ever seen, the other half a paper tiger.
Joe Studwell explores how policies ridiculed by economists created titans in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and are now behind the rise of China, while the best advice the West could offer sold its allies in South-East Asia down the economic river. The first book to offer an Asia-wide deconstruction of success and failure in economic development, Studwell's latest work is provocative and iconoclastic - and sobering reading for most of the world's developing countries. How Asia Works is a must-read book that packs powerful insights about the world's most misunderstood continent.
Americans often imagine that an economic miracle is taking place across all of Asia, a region of vast internal differences and contradictions. The truth is more complex and tentative. In his latest book, journalist Studwell (The China Dream), founder of the China Economic Quarterly, surveys nine nations: China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. At a time when ideas of geographic pre-destination and nothing-can-be-done developmental thinking abound, Studwell reports on the striking differences between these nations. Taiwan, for one, gives us a powerful reminder that geography is not destiny in development. The book first reviews land policies, then considers basic manufacturing, including autos, cement, fertilizer, steel, and textiles. Studwell writes gripping country-by-country profiles of companies that together provide ample evidence of the brutality with which economic development is conducted. Dwelling on Hyundai, Studwell admires the extraordinary success of Korea s manufacturing development policy and the prospects for trade there. He concludes with a lucid review of China s confusing economic policies, arguing that the country remains mired in government inefficiencies and slow institutional development. Readers will find Studwell s informative and balanced report eye-opening.