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The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us Hardcover – July 16, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Meredith, who covers India and China for Forbes, upends conventional wisdom in this well-reported book, arguing that the U.S. shouldn't fear these two rising economic powers. The U.S. (buyer to the world) and China (factory to the world) have, respectively, the largest and fourth largest economies, but they will reach parity in 2015. Though American politicians tax Chinese goods, Meredith points out that Americans actually gain from the undervalued yuan: our companies profit from the cheap goods the Chinese manufacture. Meanwhile, India (backoffice to the world) has picked up most of the one million white-collar jobs that moved out of the U.S. by 2003. But Meredith notes that for every dollar that goes overseas, $1.94 of wealth is created—all but 33 cents of which returns to the U.S. Protrade and antiprotectionist, she makes a compelling argument that China is doing better than India because it moved toward a market economy in 1978, while India began to liberalize in 1991. She also looks critically at each country's plans for the future, noting that China's citizens save more, while India's infrastructure and education system are falling behind. She concludes that if inward-facing India and communist China can transform themselves, so can the United States of America. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Meredith, a foreign correspondent, describes the global power shift occurring in India and in China as computers continue to change the way business is conducted. The U.S. and Europe have lost both low- and high-paying jobs to these countries, and there are other factors at play, such as the unquenchable global thirst for oil and massive environmental issues. This is a complicated story because as jobs are lost, cheap goods are being imported and sold at low prices to American consumers, and some retailers' stock prices are rising, to the benefit of workers' 401K accounts. The author notes, "In this decade, a clear pattern emerged: China became factory to the world, the United States became buyer to the world, and India began to become back office to the world." In this thought-provoking and well-researched book, the author advises that the U.S. must strengthen its education system, promote innovation, forget about protectionism or unfettered free markets, and focus on creating jobs. Whaley, Mary

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (July 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393062368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062366
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,058,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read a number of books in the last 6-9 months that deal specifically with the economic rise by China and correlating threat for the US ("China Shakes the World" comes to mind). "The World Is Flat" also is in the same vein.

In "The Elephant and the Dragon" (245 pages), Robyn Meredith, a Hong Kong-based journalist for Forbes magazine, does an excellent job setting the table of what is going on these days in China (some of it was a repeat for me) and also in India, which I am less familiar with, and hence that peaked my interest. Meredith makes the point that "It is easy to see why India has not yet attracted many new factories. India's developing-world infrastructure prevents companies from exporting their goods cheaply and quickly." The author also demonstrates how "Creating vast numbers of jobs for India's poor is critical, literally a matter of life and death". The environmental problems of China (but also India) are well documented. Observes the author: "China already has environmental regulations on its books. But it is less zealous about protecting its air and water than about protecting economic growth."

The real pay-off for this book, however, comes in the lsat chapter, "A Catalyst for Competitiveness", in which the author addresses the challenges for the US head-on, and then makes a number of suggestions. The author demonstrates in a clear fashion how disastrous it would be for China to reevaluate its currency by 20-40 percent (or for the US to slap an import duty on that magnitude on Chinese imports), and that even if it happened, it would have little impact on the US job market, and furthermore how Americans are directly benefitting from the cheaper Chinese currency.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on July 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Elephant and the Dragon" provides excellent information that allows readers to understand the impact of India and China's recent economic transformations. The bad news, however, is that its recommendations are the same old silly nostrums that have little, if any value. However, given the importance of simply helping Americans become more informed on the topic, the fact that the book exploded at least two popular myths, and the difficulty of correcting the problems India and China pose for the U.S., I still rate the book with 5 stars.

China's economic reforms began in 1978 when 18 rural families met in secret and decided to break up their collective farm (contradicting the communist system) and almost quadrupled their output. (Production had originally fallen 40% when the farms were collectivized.) The government then released most food price controls, and 80% of farmers then repaired and/or improved their homes. Deng (Mao's successor) then toured Singapore, was greatly impressed, and sent hundreds of others. "Special economic zones" suspended anti-business laws, taxes were lowered, and rules streamlined for factories making goods for export. In addition, local officials' promotions were pegged to the number of jobs created - thus, they were quick to build required roads and utilities. In addition, government officials insisted foreign companies use, and teach local workers their latest techniques.

A key dimension of our trade deficit with Asia (especially China) is the ESCALATING rate at which it is increasing. For example, in 2000, 30% of the world's toys came from China; only 5 years later it was 75%. It exported $1.3 billion in auto parts in 2001, and nearly $9 billion 4 years later.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Burgmicester VINE VOICE on June 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
I very much enjoyed the opening chapters as Meredith spewed out statistics and opinions and history of how China and India have come to be in their current economic situations. This was very well written and extremely easy to read as well as quite engaging. Reading these two chapters is worth the trip to the library for this book as they provide a fascinating expose of why socialistic ideals, while bred from trying to do well, provide the opposite in practice. Capitalism and democracy when put in place with the least amount of lawmaker interference will bring out the best in people and the land on which they are living.

However, in the chapters explaining the outsourcing of service jobs to India and factory jobs to China, I began to look at the footnotes. Many footnotes reference the same work over and over and over again. This isn't necessarily bad, but the viewpoint from the author is somewhat simplified and with only a limited number of sources, there isn't the in depth look at the statistics or the line of reasoning. For instance, on page 85, the author mentions that economists are locked in arguments about how vast the changes will be due to "offshoring". However, Meredith only quotes one source and therefore one side of the argument and the source is one that has been quoted previously in the same debate. This is common throughout the book.

The chapter on "disassembly lines" was very good as a beginning look at Supply Chain economics. But again, it didn't go far enough with comparisons on how long things take to manufacture from start to finish as compared to before China and after China. Maybe I'm too tough on comparisons, but in telling this type of information, I like to see more of both sides of the equation.
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