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Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles Hardcover – April 9, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“The head of Morgan Stanley’s emerging markets division conducts a brisk worldwide tour in search of new markets ready for takeoff. No first-book jitters for Sharma, longtime columnist for the likes of Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal. His smooth, almost chummy style suits him ideally for guiding civilians through the sometimes-arcane thicket of the dismal science, looking for those emerging markets likely to disappoint or exceed expectations in the coming years... Confining his predictions to the near future, Sharma refreshingly comes across as that rare thing Harry Truman once sought: a 'one-handed economist' willing to stake his reputation without resort to “on the other hand” equivocation. For investors looking to place their bets and for general readers looking to understand the global economic landscape in the wake of the Great Recession.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Breakout Nations works best as a compilation of highly illuminating country vignettes―similar, say, to Michael Lewis' Boomerang... As with Mr. Lewis' work on the European crisis, for sheer readability and insight on the various parts of the ongoing developing world drama, I dare say you won't find a better choice.” (Jonathan Anderson - Wall Street Journal)

Breakout Nations is basically an investors lonely planet guide to the world for the new century.” (Bloomberg "On the Economy")

“[A] country-by-country tour de force of what makes emerging markets tick. He is an excellent writer with a keen eye for detail and a lyrical prose sense... As with Michael Lewis’ Boomerang on the European crisis, for sheer readability and insight on the various parts of the ongoing emerging drama I daresay you won’t find a better choice.” (Jon Anderson - Wall Street Journal)

“This week’s Book of the Week is, Breakout Nations by Ruchir Sharma, one of the world’s leading emerging market investors. This is the best book on global economic trends I’ve read in a while.” (Fareed Zakaria, CNN GPS)

“Mr. Sharma’s intent is to help you find the best places around the world to invest, emphasizing that it will take some work on your part.” (New York Times)

“At the core of this impressive book is the counter-intuitive argument that the boom of the mid-2000s was a blip in the long historical trend for emerging economies and that the next decade may be one of decelerating. In Sharma’s view, the much-hyped decline of the West and emergence of the rest may take a lot longer than optimists would like to believe.” (India Today Magazine)

“... it’s refreshing to read Breakout Nations, Ruchir Sharma’s book on the Bric countries―Brazil, Russia, India, China―and the rest of the developing world... [H]is book offers a careful view that has little truck with forecasts of the relentless Bric-led rise of the emerging world.” (Financial Times)

“A primer to guide us... this is a great road-map to the new and better-balanced world in which we will all live, and an encouraging one.” (The Independent)

“It is really the focus of economic attention around the world. It is a whole new look at which economies are going to be winners and which are going to be losers.” (Prannoy Roy, NDTV)

“There is no better book for country-by-country accounts of emerging markets (and riskier ones called frontier markets). Its strong point is the author’s reliance on grassroots experience in each country, avoiding statistical charts.” (Times of India)

“This is among the best books to understand the emerging world and its positive and negative aspects. Sharma matches the brilliance of Thomas L Friedman, author of the widely cited The World is Flat.” (CNN-IBN)

About the Author

Head of emerging markets and global macro at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Ruchir Sharma is the author of the international bestseller Breakout Nations. He writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal and Foreign Affairs and lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393080269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393080261
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 120 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on April 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The average length of time investors hold stocks has been falling from a peak of 16 years in the mid-1960s to under 4 months today. In the 1970s it took $1 of debt to generate $1 of U.S. GDP growth; by the last decade it took $5. Real GDP growth in developed nations is expected to fall this decade to about 2-2.5%. Author Sharma is head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley and as such spends one week each month visiting other nations looking for the best places to invest. He believes it's no longer possible as in 2003- 2007 to simply bet on rapid growth in any emerging market - those years average 7.2% returns. The amount of funds flowing into those stocks grew 92% between 2000 and 2005, and another 478% between 2005 and 2010. His 'Breakout Nations' provides quick overviews of more than two dozen of the currently most interesting economies for the next decade.

His first major conclusion is that China's growth will slow sharply. Total debt as a share of GDP is rising, its cheap labor advantage is rapidly disappearing, its consumers are already strongly participating in its new economy - spending has increased nearly 9%/year for 30 years, and some estimate China already has a 25% share of the world's luxury market, its 'one-child' policy is now bringing an aging population (average age 37 in 2020, vs. 29 in India and 49 in Europe), its highway network is already second only to the U.S., slightly more than half its population is now city-dwelling (691 million), developers have built 'ghost cities' and malls, and its economy is already quite large - the world's second largest.

Sharma is even more negative on India.
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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Sandeep Bhaskar on July 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read the book on the two legs of a recent transcontinental flight and liked the content, the method and most of the arguments. It is a well written, but not so well edited text. The book claims that China and Taiwan separated at the end of WWII. While the Japanese left China in 1945 the territories did not separate till the end of the civil war in 1949 when Chiang Kai Shek fled the mainland. On the Chapter on India he cites the example of Bihar and uses the term "lawless Biharis" which was not in good taste. While the recent state of affairs in the state has not been good this way to uniformly brush the citizens of a state does not add value to the book or its message.

These small mistakes apart there are a couple of underlying themes that I felt are important for anyone considering buying the text. Though the book claims to be looking at the long term returns from different economies and the author's predictions about the same he presents a very narrow view of looking at policies and tools.

Let us look at something of relevance to the American audience. The book claims that in the aftermath of the Great Depression the US followed Hayek's paradigm to let the markets clear out ill resources and return to health and the result was that the US economy doubled in size in the next 20 odd years. While it is true that the government or the Fed intervened very little in the early part of the recession in 1929 the recession did not end till 1933 and by then a few things had happened:

1. The Fed intervened and brought more liquidity into the system.
2. The dollar was devalued (by almost 75%) essentially creating inflationary expectations in a deflationary economy.
3. The New Deal was brought in.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Gifford on August 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The author of this book, Ruchir Sharma, is head of Emerging Market investment at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Economic Times. He spends a week per month in a developing country somewhere on the globe 'kicking its tyres' to get a feel for what is really going on with the economy. This is a man who can be assumed to know his stuff - his essential 'stuff' being: 'is this particular economy likely to flourish and should you consider investing in it?'

I am, sadly, not personally seeking an investment home for a few billions of spare cash, but I read the book out of a growing curiosity about what the global economy may come to look like in the relatively near future: about the real likelihood of a decline of the West and the apparently inexorable rise of China and other emerging economies. This book gave me everything I wanted, and more.

Sharma's key point is that it is no longer useful or sensible to talk about 'emerging markets' as one investment opportunity: these markets make up nearly 40% of the global economy and about 15% of the value of the world's stock markets and there are highly significant differences between individual economies. Here's the basic plot: a 'breakout nation' (the ones investors might be especially interested in) is one that can exceed, or at least match, the growth rate for its income class.
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