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Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia Hardcover – October 10, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
The cover is sappy, but don't let that deter you--Studwell's book is well worth your time if you seek to better understand SEAsia.
Studwell is very critical of the corporate sector of the SE Asian countries, including those of Hong Kong and Singapore. He traces the origins of the mostly ethnic Chinese businessmen and their companies from the colonial days to the present. He dismisses any notion of "Asian values" as the foundation for the success of these businesses and their owners, but rather attributes their rise to license-peddling, concessions, monopolistic practises, lots of graft, etc. One is reminded of Balzac's words: "every great fortune, of onknown origin, is usually the result of a crime". His comments on the banking sector are particulary scathing. The author explains that these businessmen are not the cause of this situation, but have merely adapted to a region-wide system of patronage and corruption held in place by the local politicos for hundreds of years to the present (much of it inherited from their colonial masters). The business leaders have saving graces: personally charming, they lead flamboyant lives and they obviously do contribute to their local economies (through employment and investment).Read more ›
Southeast Asia is a fractured diverse place, but their tycoons share many similarities: they come from wealthy established families, they read well the political winds and they're good (and only good at) massaging the political connections that permit them the monopoloy and cash flow from which their empire is based, they're hard-headed non-ideological businessmen who put their interests above all else, they're racist patriarchs, and they're predators who spend other people's money (from banks and equity markets) in order to advance their business interests. They are the products, the beneficiaries, and contributors to the crony capitalist system in southeast Asia, a system that led to the 1997 East Asian financial crisis -- a crisis that, as a testament to the godfathers' flexibility and power, only made the most powerful godfathers richer.
At the end of the book, Mr. Studwell concedes that he wrote the book about Asian godfathers because he wanted to highlight the financial malaise and political corruption of Southeast Asia. But even if readers do not care about southeast Asia they should still read "Asian Godfathers" because it's also the story of China today. Like southeast Asia's economy, China's economy is growing not because of but despite its tycoons.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read! Would recommend it to all interested in understanding modern day Southeast AsiaPublished 11 months ago by Shishir
Would recommend as one of the first books to read for understanding Asia politics and business, along with the same author's 'How Asia works'Published 16 months ago by Ishan
Easy to read. Excellent look into the behind-the-scenes economic action in Asia.Published 16 months ago by bemerson29
Great read for anyone interested in the interplay between politics and economics in Southeast Asia!Published 17 months ago by Colin Emerson
It must have cost Joe Studwell a good deal of work to integrate his knowledge of Asian business and politics and produce this exceptional book. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Baraniecki Mark Stuart
What makes a billionaire? When I was a teenager I voraciously read endless business and personal finance books from 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' Series and 'Think and Grow Rich', to the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by edsetiadi