Jim Rohwer, a senior contributing editor at Fortune and the author of 1995's Asia Rising, remains optimistic about that continent's economic future despite the financial turmoil that has wreaked havoc there over the past several years. His latest look at the region, Remade in America, shows how the movers and shakers in Asia are combining "what they had been good at before with what they faced that was new" in order to completely rebuild a fiscal structure that was radically upended during the 1990s. The primary impetus, he argues, has been America's unprecedented technological, financial, and corporate mastery of the global business scene--a far-reaching transformation that had a particularly severe impact on Asia, where longtime industrialization and monetary policies relentlessly drove the cost of capital higher than returns on the investments it generated. By following America's example and remaking its seriously outdated systems, however, Rohwer contends "a new Asian economy" is rising that leans more on services, contemporary industries, domestic consumption, and a belated acceptance of the Internet. Anyone who does (or hopes to do) business on a worldwide basis will appreciate this thought-provoking look at a corner of the world that will only grow in importance as the new century unfolds. --Howard Rothman
From Publishers Weekly
Rohwer, a Fortune contributor, has covered Asia as a business journalist for years, and this is his second book (after Asia Rising) arguing that Asia will prosper as a result of changes in the U.S., and that Asian prosperity will repay the favor by nourishing the American economy in turn. The difference is that Asia Rising was written before the 1997 Asian financial crisis; this new book reconsiders its thesis in light of that crisis. The argument is that the financial trends transforming the U.S. economy in the 1980s Asuch as corporate raiding, junk bonds and financial deregulationAwill do the same thing in Asia. Asians' greater resistance to change, among other factors, explains the time lag, and also predicts that the changes may be more violent there when they come. However, Rohwer also thinks there are real differences, such as Asians' greater discipline and lesser degree of selfishness, that will cause things to play out differently, mostly more positively, than they did in America. (Jan.) Forecast: Taken a few pages at a time, this is a readable book, as well written as a serious magazine article. But overall, the argument's intricate details will weigh down most general readers; the complex charts will scare off others. At the same time, the book lacks the citations and factual support expected of a serious academic or professional work. These drawbacks make it difficult to identify a clear market for this title; it would have been more palatable as a tightly written and edited 100-page thesis. Still, readers of Asia Rising may well want Rohwer's insights on the post-1997-crisis Asian situation.
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