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Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends on It Hardcover – October 13, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Karabell (A Visionary Nation) delivers a compelling brief on the unlikely convergence of the U.S. and Chinese economies. He begins with an introduction to China's economic reforms in the post-Mao era and moves on to specific examples of how such American companies as KFC, Avon and Nike used this opportunity to reinvent their businesses to suit the world's largest market. Karabell argues that China's entry into the WTO laid the foundations of Chimerica—the symbiotic relationship between China and America that has largely escaped analysis because outmoded quantitative tools examine nation states as closed systems. He also illustrates why China as a low-cost producer is less important than China's new role as avid consumer, why nonperforming loans have meant such different things in China and in the West and the possible causes of the interest rate conundrum that so puzzled Alan Greenspan. Essential reading for anyone curious about the increasing economic integration and interdependence between China and America, the public opposition in both nations and the implications for the U.S. as it faces competition from a nation it cannot coerce. (Nov.)
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Review

"In this provocative new essay, Zachary Karabell lucidly sketches out the tectonic shifts that now compel us to redefine how we relate to China. Karabell's is an urgent call for Americans to shake off their torpor and complacency before it is too late and recognize how China has changed the global equation." -- Orville Schell, Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society

"Few countries will have more impact on the world in the coming decades than China. How the United States manages its relationship with China will profoundly affect the shape of this century. In this provocative book, Zachary Karabell suggests ways to manage that future. His argument might be debated, but it is one that should be engaged." -- Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University and author of The Powers to Lead

"Zachary Karabell provides a vividly written and timely reminder of the risk of mutually assured economic destruction that binds America and China and the importance of this relationship for the future of the global economy. The financial crisis has made this interdependence only more obvious -- and the need to think through its implications more urgent." -- Ian Bremmer, author of The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall

"Our world order is like a stool -- and China and America are its most important legs. If either is destabilized, everyone loses. Through investment, production, and trade, almost every brand name Americans know has a stake in the success of 'Chimerica.' Karabell pre-sents not only an intimate portrait of how the world's most strategic economic marriage came into being -- and how it prevented the present financial crisis from being so much worse -- but also a timely and precise strategy for keeping the global financial order in balance." -- Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century

"Essential reading for anyone curious about the increasing economic integration and interdependence between China and America, the public opposition in both nations and the implications for the U.S. as it faces competition from a nation it cannot coerce." -- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141658370X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416583707
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Kellman on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been interested in China since 1998 when a good friend married a Chinese national and encouraged me to visit and make up my own mind about the Middle Kingdom. I have read 15 books about China and visited three times in the last 14 months. Zachary Karabell is the first author to put together a comprehensive historical and financial framework that explains what has been going on in China for the last twenty years with on-the-ground personal experiences and portfolio management insights from his several years as running a successful China mutual fund. He explains how Kentucky Fried Chicken, Avon and Federal Express achieved success but I was more interested in his not-as-well known company examples which included [...], [...], China Life Insurance, and Huawei Technologies.
Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms in China have been going on for thirty years. Everywhere I went and talked to young Chinese (through an interpreter who spoke Mandarin) they mentioned Deng's remarks "to be rich is to be glorious" and "Black cat, white cat, what does it matter as long as it catches mice?" The well educated twenty to thirty-five year old Chinese men (and women) know that the 21st century is their century. These "Chuppies" - Chinese yuppies - were everywhere in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Their internet phones and laptops were ubiquitous and more advanced than mine. The only thing I did not understand was the fascination with massively multi-player online role-playing games in internet cafes.
My only quibble is that the term "Chimerica" (which was coined by Niall Ferguson) would have worked better in the title instead of "Superfusion".
I highly recommend this book. Also, if you haven't been to Asia, go to Hong Kong and Shanghai. Those skylines with their new 100 story buildings put New York City to shame.
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Format: Hardcover
"Here begins our tale. The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. -- Moss Roberts (translator) <Romance of Three Kingdoms>"

Last Wednesday (Oct. 7, 2009), Alcoa surprised Wall Street by reporting a profit for the most recent quarter after three consecutive quarterly losses. CEO Kleinfeld said, "China clearly is back and back very, very strong and pulling some of the Asian markets."

This is just one of many examples showing how "China" is positioned in this worldwide financial meltdown and recession. While some blamed China as the cause of this crisis for its currency policy and cheap goods, others hope China will be the very engine that pulls the world, especially epicenter of the crisis, the United States, out of recession.

Zachary Karabell, an American author, historian, money manager and economist, is the President of River Twice Research, where he analyzes economic and political trends. With several 4-5 star books at hand, Karabell wrote a new book to tell us the story behind China's rising economy and its "superfusion" with the United States.

First, the book started with the economical background in China and Unite States. China was poor after decades of command economy and isolation. Deng Xiaoping was determined to open China to foreign investment. United States was at the dawn "New Economy" and big companies were lagging and searching for opportunities around the globe.

Then, the author moved on with stories of three big names (KFC, AVON, FedEx). They invested in China heavily without much short-term return but aimed for the future. In the meanwhile, China utilized foreign capital for development while it still kept financial system partially isolated.
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Format: Hardcover
China, the USA's largest creditor, buys billions of dollars in U.S. Treasury bills. That allows us to keep interest rates low. Low interest rates encourage Americans to spend more money than they have. Americans especially like to consume low-priced Chinese goods. So China has been happy to fuel this cycle of investment and consumption. Thus our two countries have become partners, says Karabell: "The Chinese and U.S. economies have fused to become one integrated system. Americans should embrace this fusion."

Karabell downplays the fact that the relationship is more a codependency than a partnership--like drug dealer and addict. Now the USA has overdosed on debt, while China keeps saving, investing, and growing. China's premier Wen Jiabao stated that he is worried about the safety of China's investment in the USA. How long can the "partnership" last? Karabell underestimates the potential for conflict and the impediments to the happily integrated system that he envisions.
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Format: Hardcover
Recent economic travails have triggered intensive questioning of the financial system created by the United States and warped by Wall Street. That has led many to reconsider America's place in the world and wonder whether this is indeed the twilight of American power. At the same time, both China and the U.S., after years of seeking closer integration, have begun to question that wisdom. Author Karabell, however, argues that their fusion has advanced too far for either to extricate itself without severe harm. Over the past two decades, China and the U.S. have become one integrated hyper-economy - 'Chimerica.'

To bolster his point about how the U.S. and China economies are intertwined, Karabell contends that without Chinese reserves bolstering U.S. Treasury bonds in the past 18 months, it would have been far more challenging for the United States government to rescue a crumbling financial system. And without American consumers having bought Chinese goods over the past years, China would never have accumulated the reserves that allowed it to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to support the economy during the worst of the financial implosion. (On the other hand, without the low American interest rates afforded by Chinese funds, the U.S. may not have had a housing bubble.)

China began with a trade economy limited to 5% of GDP in the 1970s - it was isolated, and self-sufficient as best possible - like North Korea today. The process of turning outward began about 20 years ago. First came about ten years of experiments with private enterprise in special enterprise zones.
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