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Futurecast: How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work Hardcover – April 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is one of those books that seems either prescient, or obvious, depending on how you read it. The author, a former undersecretary of commerce, now a private consultant to businesses and politicos (including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama), sets his sights on the near horizon and paints us a picture of our world a dozen years from now. Basing his insights on solid historical data as well as contemporary trends, Shapiro predicts, among other things, that we’ll soon be buying our cars from Mexico and Turkey, that Europe will become less politically and economically relevant, and that China will emerge as a superpower rivaling the U.S. in its influence on the rest of the world. Readers who closely follow economics and politics might find many of the author’s ideas obvious (the world soon to be threatened by climate change and energy crises? Say it ain’t so!). Still, he effectively synthesizes current trends into a thought-provoking, well documented, persuasively argued treatise. --David Pitt


FUTURECAST was chosen by the US Chamber of Commerce as one of the 10 "Books that Drive the Debate" for 2008

"Rob Shapiro's prescient and insightful book probes the confluence of challenges that society will face in the coming years. He argues that our world has become increasingly interdependent, and we must foster global cooperation to achieve a sustainable existence with equal opportunity for all. Futurecast is a vital resource for anyone seeking to understand the world our children will inherit."-- President Bill Clinton

“a storm warning at a time when food shortages, higher energy prices and a credit crunch are forcing our heads out of the sand: if they turn to Futurecast 2020 , they will find an argument that gives us a measure of what we should expect from our political leaders - and from ourselves - if we are to continue our civilisation on the high plateau we have managed to reach.”--The Financial Times

"Entertaining and educational. Shapiro deftly pulls together facts and figures to back up his statements. An illuminating, satisfying read."--Kirkus

"Alarming but challenging. A dense yet well-written overview of teh heavy factors that will remake the world. A thorough and gifted analysis."--Management Today

“A new world economy is emerging before our very eyes. Robert Shapiro not only understands the breadth and depth of these enormous changes but also is able to communicate them in a way that is clear, powerful and readily understandable. This is a brilliantly written book and a compelling analysis -- that provides extremely valuable insights into the enormous and historic transitions now underway that will profoundly affect the world's major economies for decades to come.”--Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International

“In America today, we are sorely in need of the big ideas that will elevate our electoral and legislative processes above the level of fundraising and high stakes lobbying.  In Futurecast, Robert Shapiro creates the fertile ground from which these big ideas will spring by accurately predicting how all our lives will be changed, in the near future, by aging populations, globalization and the rise and fall of the superpowers.  This book is a must-read as we head into this first half of the twenty-first century."--Al From, CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council

“Robert Shapiro understands the world and all of its complexity from the rise and fall of nations to the problem of aging populations.  No one is better equipped to tell us where we're headed in the not-so-distant future.”-- Rolf Ekeus, High Commissioner on National Minorities (UN), former Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commssion on Iraq and former Swedish Amassador to the United States

“In 1992 Rob Shapiro's analysis of the big changes in globalization became the intellectual framework for the Clinton campaign and Presidency.  In this new book Rob returns to the subject and has written a book that is likely to do in 2008 what he did once before - offer the economic framework for the President and the nation.   This book is a must read for any one trying to make sense of how the global economy is changing in the early part of the 21st century.”--Simon Rosenberg, chairman, New Democrat Network


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312352425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312352424
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,352,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Emil B on April 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Shapiro, former Clinton Administration Under Secretary of Commerce presents his vision of the world in the near future. In his view, there are three important factors that will have an impact on the shape of the new world: globalization, demographics and the superpowers. None of this is surprising and most of the people agree with this view. His presentation is provocative though, and the simple review of facts that occurred in the recent past and their extension into the near future is challenging the mindset that most of us have. The world is fast evolving and we have to adapt.

It is difficult to grasp the massive dislocation brought to us by globalisation when you have countries like China and India entering the world stage changing completely the job market everywhere. In his view America will remain a superpower, but the rules are different. Robert focuses on US, China, Japan and Europe, with occasional touch on Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Italy and South Corea. The book has a lot of factual information and it contains, based on that information, predictions on future trends that are likely to occur until 2020. Suprisingly, there is not much about India, Canada and Australia (the last two countries have massive natural resources that have a key strategic importance in the evolution of global balance of power).

The main factors that Robert predicts will have a significant influence in the evolution of world order are demographic, economic and political. The demographic factors are staggering. For instance China will have by 2020 over 170 million people over 60. Or consider the fact that in Europe and Japan the elderly will represent over 50% of the working-age population.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tom Carr on October 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have been attempting to predict the future since about 1965 when I first started reading science fiction. I have almost always been wrong. I have been reading expert's attempts to predict the future since about the same time. They have almost always been wrong. In spite of that it is great fun to predict the future, and even though there are so many variables that the predictions are almost always wrong, the attempt leads to greater understanding of the present.

This book is well written and a pleasure to read. It discusses the main trends that will shape the future, and then goes on to discuss the unknowns, such as major technological changes or catastrophic terrorist events that could make major changes the current trends.

I don't doubt that if you read this book in 10 years it would seem dated and you would smile at many of the incorrect predictions, but reading it today has given me a fine experience of thinking about what is happening in the world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Robert Shapiro was Under-Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration from 1998 to 2001, and now leads a consulting firm for US and foreign companies on business issues in general. Now he brings us this book.

"Futurecast: How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change The Way You Live and Work" (358 pages) brings the "big picture' of what we can realistically expect in the next 15 years so so. Shapiro focuses on several general themes (geopolitics, globalization of the economy, and the global demographic shift) and the incredible shifts that they will INEVITABLY will bring about. Praise yourself lucky that you are is the US, as Shapiro's outlook for Europe and Japan is bleak at best. Observes Shapiro: "The geopolitical marginalization of Europe seems all but certain. It may be hard to imagine today when much of Europe disdains America's power and its president, but these developments could strengthen the Atlantic alliance." (He goes on to explain in great detail how that would happen.) Shapiro points out there are two wild cards in all scenarios: terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism (which are not the same thing, of course). The effects of the global demographic shifts are devastating, yet certain to happen (Russia is losing about 1 million, yes you read that correctly) people every year) and certain to cause huge political consequences, particularly in Europe and Japan. And on and on...

Be forewarned: this is not a book you'll read in a couple of hours (or even days). This is dense and serious writing. It took me a good two weeks to read the book from start to finish, but it was so worth it. This book for me is as essential as Thomas Friedman's revolutionary "The World Is Flat" book 3 years ago. This book should be required reading for all college students, and frankly our politicians. Are you reading this, Wahsington? Absolutely essential reading.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Overall, the author does a good job of describing the
megatrends he sees in our future. For instance,
globalization will shift labor intensive jobs to
areas of the world where labor costs are cheaper.
The USA and China will emerge as superpowers and
dominate globalization. As the number of working people
go down- the quality of life goes down and the various
social programs will be under funding strains as in

The author sees overall challenges in health care,
globalization and climate change. The traditional
economies will experience slower growth with higher
taxes, more elderly and a shrinking labor force.
Globalization also encourages costly new medical
procedures due to technological improvements.
The government must find ways to control costs in
this area by merging partnerships with industry.

The USA will build and maintain global information
networks. This is our area of strength. The USA
labor force will grow decently over the next few
decades due to the current stock of immigration.
The new immigrants are needed to replace the labor
pool of retiring baby boomers. There will be no
baby boom in Sub Sahara Africa and Russia. These
countries may suffer for the lack of a labor pool.
In summary, Americans have produced more children
than Europeans or the Japanese. The price of the
baby bust is the end of strong growth in Europe
and Japan according to the author.

China must build its infrastructure and manage the
coastal information technologies with the needs of
inland China. Outsourcing does cause the loss of
some jobs; however, there is a counterbalance to
increments in productivity.
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