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Borderless Economics: Chinese Sea Turtles, Indian Fridges and the New Fruits of Global Capitalism Hardcover – November 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


An informative, engaging survey of the beneficial consequences of globalization. (Kirkus Reviews)

Robert Guest has discovered the quantum mechanics of economic growth and political liberty. It turns out the wave-particle duality of economic matter and political energy is us. We the people of the world-- moving where we want and doing what we will -- create the universe of progress. Governments of Earth, say goodbye to the Newtonian concepts of nation and state. The apple of Borderless Economics has hit you on the head and knocked you out. (P. J. O'Rourke)

For most, globalization has been about the movement of goods, services, technology and capital. As Robert Guest succinctly explains in this eminently readable book, globalization is actually about people - their migration, the networks they form and the ideas that they transmit through their mobility. In a world grappling with rising protectionist fever, this book is a warning that those nations who want to batten down the hatches and shut the free flow of people and ideas do so at their own risk. (Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India)

Too much of economic and political analysis is about countries. Robert Guest shows us the myriad ways in which countries are connected by people who move around to learn, to work and to live. These networks are increasingly central both to the nature of opportunity and to public policy issues in the United States. The book is persuasive: America will stay prosperous and strong only so long as we remain the Hub of the World. (Simon Johnson, co-author, 13 Bankers, and professor at MIT Sloan)

Guest has produced a book that is witty, rigorous, humane, provocative and dazzlingly well-reported. Everyone should read it. Bravo! (Tim Harford, author of Adapt and The Undercover Economist)

Fantastically entertaining and well-written…[I] couldn't put it down. (Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail and Free.)

This is a thoughtful, entertaining and above all inspiring hymn of praise to the cultural, social and economic benefits of freer migration. Its conclusion should be noted by every politician running for office: immigration is an opportunity, not a threat. (Bill Emmott, author of 20:21 Vision and Rivals)

A wonderful antidote to the tired and vague clichés about 'globalization'. Drawing on a breadth of research and decades of reporting from 70 countries, Robert Guest makes the case for why global migration is (mostly) an extraordinary force for good. (Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science)

Amusing, intelligent, and full of statistics, Borderless Economics is the perfect starting point for exploring new diasporas and international networks. (Economics and the Financial Crisis, Global Politics)

About the Author

Robert Guest is currently the Global Business Editor at The Economist. Before joining The Economist, he was the Tokyo correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. The winner of numerous awards, Guest is a regular on both the BBC and CNN. He is the author of The Shackled Continent.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230113826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230113824
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Robson on December 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The thing that you have to understand about Economists is that they're generally an optimistic bunch, but they're really annoyed by the complications of...reality. They love models: models are perfect and simple. Because they omit externalities and oddities, they work perfectly. The simplest of models involve but two variables: wine and cheese, money and time, socks and shoes, and so on. As you progress further in your studies of the dismal science, you must heartbreakingly accept that in the real world, there is almost no application for a two-variable model.

It's heartbreaking because in the sterile simplicity of Economics, the world works perfectly. Everyone who wants a job, has one; everyone who wants to borrow money, can; if you want time off work, you just work fewer hours. In the world of Economics we are all Utility Calculators, and we're very good at what we do. We scan the job market for opportunities, spot them, and train to be the next Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, or Homer Simpson, depending our utility/salary demands (shockingly, no one ever chooses to be homeless, or a drug addict, or unemployed in this model).

In the world of Economic models, not only do we all have jobs, but we all have jobs that we're good at, so we make a lot of money. On top of that, we enjoy our jobs. In other words, if you simplify the model enough, you can actually create the conditions for perfect Human Capital Allocation.

My point is this: there are a few differences between the skills in this world, and where they are most needed (likewise, the low-skill human labor, and where that's needed). It's just of a pain in the butt that these two groups can't find each other more easily. If they could, so theorizes Robert Guest, we could solve most if not all of the world's problems.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marc S. Ginsky on December 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Guest's book does a remarkable job of taking an extremely complex subject and making it accessible. The argument that loosening immigration barriers could impact global economics more than trade policy is powerfully made. The use of facts and data is certainly not surprising in a book about economics. What makes this book such an enjoyable read, however, is the use of stories of members of various diaspora about their experience.

Mr. Guest's experience working for The Economist has provided him opportunity to meet and engage with members of numerous diaspora throughout his career. He has taken their experiences and managed to shift my thinking about both immigration policy in the United States and the entire concept of "brain drain". It does not hurt that the author has a great sense of humor that he puts on display throughout the book when you would least expect it.

All in all - a complex story well told.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MacPherson the Reader on November 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The very word, "economics" may strike fear into the hearts and minds of many a reader who thinks he or she is more comfortable in the safety of the humanities -- literature and the arts.

No need to fear the subject any longer! In the vivid prose of master-journalist Robert Guest of the highly literate Economist, the subject of globalized business becomes as fascinating as a page-turning mystery, and as appealing as a slice of chocolate cake.

BORDERLESS ECONOMICS is a romp of a ride through the conference rooms and idea labs around the world. Guest is a magnificent story-teller and in his hands, "economics" becomes a thrilling tale of extraordinary men and women who have imagined original products that we all use and need -- when the rest of us had no idea we'd ever come to rely on them in our daily lives.

If you buy and read only one book on the exciting world of innovators of tomorrow, BORDERLESS ECONOMICS should be that one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard the author interviewed on National Public Radio and was taken by his description of the benefits of immigration and a future that has a greater relaxation of restrictions and delays in immigration policies. In an early chapter Guest compares North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, with South Korea noting at the end of World War II, the north was more advanced than the south. Today Guest notes the North Koreans suffer from malnutrition exemplified by the fact that the North Koreans are 6 inches shorter than their southern cousins. The amount of isolation and limited education has kept the North economically backward and is the extreme example of a lack of flow of ideas and exchange of information. Guest also challenges those that fear immigration, touching on the USA, noting that immigrants make both countries stronger, adding necessary labor, industry, investors, scientists, doctors and educators to the country they migrate to. In exchange, money is sent back to their family in their home countries creating a direct economic support that has a much more greater impact then aid programs where governments of many counties tap into into significant cuts. The author also discusses other countries particularly China, India and several African nations concerning their economic and social situations. Guest also puts in a more positive perspective about the USA still being the most viable country in the world and most attractive by immigrants who seek economic freedom, the best education in the world, and an opportunity to help their family back home, many often returning to their homeland, bringing education, money and business ideas.Read more ›
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