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Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies and Nations Hardcover – June 9, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 edition (June 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887309518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887309519
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,640,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The world is on the verge of another industrial revolution, driven by knowledge this time, not the steam engine or electricity, according to noted MIT economist Lester C. Thurow. In his book, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies and Nations, Thurow writes that "Knowledge is the new basis for wealth. This has never before been true. In the past, when capitalists talked about their wealth, they were talking about their ownership of plant and equipment or natural resources. In the future when capitalists talk about their wealth, they will be talking about their control of knowledge." This means that the Bill Gateses of the world will be on top, not the Rockefellers, Carnegies, or Morgans.

To ready themselves for this new economy, companies and nations need to build what Thurow calls a "wealth pyramid," using building blocks such as a solid social organization, entrepreneurial skills, and education that encourages creativity and curiosity. The United States is better positioned than Europe or Japan to do well in the new economy, Thurow contends, but he warns of weaknesses even here. He puts companies like Intel on top in the knowledge-based global economy and places a question mark next to firms like Wal-Mart. Will the traditional retailer fall to the onslaught of lower-priced Internet competitors, or will it survive because people's herding instincts make them still want to drive to a Wal-Mart store? Bulding Wealth is a worthwhile read for anyone concerned about the wealth of nations and individuals, by the author of such economic bestsellers as Head to Head and The Zero Sum Society. --Dan Ring

From Library Journal

The U.S. economy surged past those of Europe and Japan in the last decade in terms of the creation of jobs and market wealth. According to best-selling author and MIT economist Thurow (The Future of Capitalism, LJ 3/15/96), the U.S. economy has been successful because of its adaptability. American entrepreneurs seized upon opportunities in the new knowledge-based industries, while established U.S. companies restructured themselves to enhance profitability. Emphasizing the global nature of modern economic competition, Thurow explains that the continued creation of wealth depends upon improving social organization, creating entrepreneurial opportunities, enhancing knowledge, expanding human skills, building physical tools, and augmenting natural and environmental resources. While his subject is complex, Thurow expounds his theories on modern capitalism in clear, jargon-free language. Given his stature and popularity, this book is recommended for all but the smallest libraries.
-ALawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ., Harborcreek, PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Very pleasant to read.
Overall, it is a fascinating read for anyone interested in economics, or how rich countries become rich.
Unfortunately, this is not happening.
Robert J. Crawford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By on September 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Lester Thurow has performed a service to non-academics by raising the blinds in his ivory tower and letting us peek in to see how academic economists such as Ravi Batra at Southern Methodist University and Harvard's Robert C. Merton and Stanford's Myron S. Scholes can make so many serious mistakes when they take their craft out of academia and into the real world. Batra has been predicting an imminent depression for fifteen years and Merton and Scholes threatened world bond markets last year when the lost billions of dollars at Long Term Capital Management. Thurow himself had a previous unpleasant confrontation with the real world when he predicted in his 1992 book, Head to Head, that Japan would rule the world economically and the U.S. would end up a third class economic power in the 1990's.
The first insight Thurow provides into ivory tower economics is his open distrust of the real world when it contradicts numbers he has access to. He is unwilling to believe that America led the world in productivity in this decade. He trusts numbers showing that "total factor productivity has not grown at all" and wonders, "Which perspective is real: the rapid technological change we feel, see and smell, or the slow productivity growth we measure?" Instead of urging economists to spend more time in the outside world, Thurow argues that Americans should spend "the sums necessary to get better statistics." Thurow shows the same preference for numbers as opposed to reality when he rehashes the numbers that make it seem as if "real wages have been flat or falling" since the 1970's.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on May 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Before the high tech stock meltdown last year, techno-boosters breathlessly proclaimed a "third industrial revolution," that of the "knowledge-based" or "new" economy. Unlike revolutions one and two - the steam engine and then the electric power tools that liberated us from dependence on muscle labor - this time it was the human mind, somehow magnified by dazzling new gadgets and software, that was supposed to generate economic value: knowledge workers, engineers, and scientists would control data, the structure of matter, and even of life itself for our benefit. For all its seductive hype - and the cult status of Wired magazine illustrates how extolling the third industrial revolution has become a cottage industry in itself - this vision remains controversial and unproven, now perhaps fatally flawed.
In "Building Wealth," Thurow wanted to examine it all by applying a formula he honed to perfection in previous bestsellers: he articulates, and to a degree analyzes, trends that we find confusing and frightening, tying them together in coherent form. Only this time, while swallowing the fashionable rhetoric of info-revolution whole, he played a kind of booster who also wants to be a critic. Barely able to contain his enthusiasm for the enormous fortunes then being amassed in the name of high technology, Thurow was mesmerised by "glittering eye" atop the "wealth pyramid" on the back of the dollar bill. "Wealth," Thurow writes, "is the only game to play if you want to prove your mettle...If you do not play there, by definition you are second rate." But he is also worred about the direction of American capitalism, which he portrayed as dangerously imbalanced in wealth distribution and opportunity.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ConsultantsMind on August 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Overall, it is a fascinating read for anyone interested in economics, or how rich countries become rich. Lots of good facts which reflect on the competitive, and opportunistic capitalist paradigm we currently live in.
1) There has been significant change in the economic landscape, and that change continues to accelerate. Before the industrial revolution, 98% of the world's population had income only from farming. Now less than 2% are farmers.
2) The world is increasing a global market. Coca Cola gets 80% of its revenues from outside the United States.
3) The gap in wealth continues to widen.
- Bill Gates market value is the same as the poorest 110,000,000 Americans.
- In the United States, the average CEO pay is 212x the average worker.
- The top 1% of people in the US own 40% of the total wealth.
- Africa GDP is the same as it was in 1965. Has not changed in 35 years.
4) We are all busier. With the invention of electricity, the average hours of sleep dropped from 9 hours to 7 hours a day.
5) Old companies must destroy themselves (re-invent themselves) in order to stay competitive and grow. Also, individuals must constantly change and grow to remain competitive. If not, they will fall behind.
6) Capitalism is a tough game. The number of businesses failing (88% a year) is almost as many as new business are formed. Wealth is constantly being transferred from one group ~ to another.
7) There are many basic ingredients to create wealth. Some are cultural (like entreprenuership), some are created and enforced by the government (intellectual property, law and order, infrastructure), some are learned by the individual (skills, knowledge)
8) Each country, and region has its strengths and weakness.
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