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What the U.S. Can Learn from China: An Open-Minded Guide to Treating Our Greatest Competitor as Our Greatest Teacher 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1609941246
ISBN-10: 1609941241
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for What the U.S. Can Learn from China

“Ann Lee shows us how the United States can also learn much from the country that will soon have the world’s largest economy. Professor Lee foresaw the ‘Great Recession’ two years before it happened; we should all listen to her now as she describes how China and the United States can work together to shape a safer and more prosperous world.”
—Charlie Kolb, President, Committee for Economic Development, and former Deputy Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education

“The author makes sensible points about all the topics covered and has interesting points of view about so many issues. A wide-sweeping book that makes engaging reading.”
—William Lewis, Founding Director, McKinsey Global Institute

“A refreshing departure from the unilateral perspective hobbling geopolitical debate. Even those who see major flaws in China’s system will find themselves agreeing with many of Ann Lee’s provocative prescriptions.”
—Joseph Menn, U.S. correspondent, Financial Times, and author of Fatal System Error

“Ann Lee takes issue with those who see China’s rise only as a threat to America and not also as an opportunity. By looking at some of the root policies and attitudes behind China’s recent success, she shows how lessons from China can bring Americans full circle, back to the values and aspirations that made the United States a great country in the first place. Her book adds much-needed nuance to the debates over China’s role in the global economy and as a rising world power.”
—Michele Wucker, President, World Policy Institute

“Misconceptions abound about China and how it works today. Ann Lee’s book takes a fresh and controversial look at the Chinese system and its strengths.”
—Josh Lerner, Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking, Harvard Business School

“Ann Lee’s What the U.S. Can Learn from China is a rare achievement in today’s examinations of U.S.-China relations: it supplements an already sophisticated analysis with a deep cultural understanding that is richly valuable and laudably objective. Ann’s ability to ask the tough questions helps Americans to understand China better and China to see itself clearer.”
—Nancy Yao Maasbach, Executive Director, Yale-China Association

“This book sparkles on literally every page with surprising insights and crucial information that everybody in America—and China—simply must become acquainted with or be reminded of. Whether it be about education, culture, politics and economics, or business, Ms. Lee has much, much more to teach both Americans and Chinese than any of us knew that we had yet to learn.”
—Robert Hockett, Professor of Financial and International Economic Law, Cornell University

“It is no secret that China has become a convenient scapegoat for America’s troubles even as its success is envied. This book has a lofty goal: to reduce the potential for international conflict by increasing Westerners’ understanding of that success. Ann Lee’s well-written analysis shows that China’s success is not merely based on a modern mercantilist policy but rather is due to adoption of best practices from the West—from building social safety nets to conducting business according to international standards. What is most interesting is Lee’s main thesis: America needs to look to China to save itself, by reimporting the lessons the West has forgotten. This is a serious book that should be read as an antidote to all the China-bashing myths circulating in America.”
—L. Randall Wray, Professor of Economics, University of Missouri–Kansas City, and Senior Scholar, Levy Economics Institute

“There are so many insecurities we all share about China; this book brilliantly quantifies and identifies many of them. The author’s perspective is one of the most interesting and unique. This makes the book an extremely compelling read. The message is loud and clear: Americans ignore China at their peril. This book answers so many questions we’re unfortunately afraid to ask.”
—Lawrence G. McDonald, Senior Director, Credit Sales and Trading, Newedge USA, LLC


About the Author

Ann Lee is a professor of finance and economics at New York University and a senior fellow with the public policy think tank Demos. Fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, she was a visiting graduate economics professor at Peking University in 2008. She has also been an investment banker at Bankers Trust and Alex. Brown & Sons and a partner at two multibillion-dollar hedge fund firms. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Forbes, and Businessweek, and she regularly guests on CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg, CNN, NPR, and many other television and radio stations.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (January 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609941241
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609941246
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ann Lee is an award winning author who discusses global trade issues, international finance, and Sino-American relations. A former investment banker, hedge fund partner, and senior fellow at the think tank Demos, she is a frequent media commentator and keynote speaker around the world. In addition to television and radio appearances on MSNBC, Bloomberg, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox Business, NPR, CCTV, RTTV, and the BBC her op-eds have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Businessweek, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The American Banker. She has been quoted in hundreds of publications and has been an invited speaker at numerous industry and academic conferences which include Standard Chartered Bank, Google, and the U.S. Treasury Department. Ann is also an adjunct professor of economics and finance at New York University and a former visiting professor at Peking University where she taught macroeconomics and financial derivatives. While she was teaching at Peking University, she also acted as an economic adviser to Chinese economic officials as well as to several large Chinese asset management firms. She was educated at U.C. Berkeley, Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, and Harvard Business School.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mercator on December 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The intention of this idealistic, wide-ranging book is to suggest how the US could do better economically by adopting common sense changes inspired by taking a closer look at China's recent history. Ch2 discusses the revival of Confucian values in China and how it helped economic development (chiefly by emphasizing education and self improvement); Lee notes how these values are not very different from those of say Benjamin Franklin, and contrasts them with the post modern values and attitudes that characterize the US today. We have deteriorated and could usefully get back in touch with our roots. Ch3 is partly about the limits of democracy (i.e. that democracy does not guarantee good results, as Zakaria, Chua, etc. have written in their books) and partly about meritocracy, the need for competence and experience in public officials. To adopt these ideas in the US would require major changes in the coverage of our political campaigns, with a focus on candidates' resumes and prior accomplishments instead of on speaking skills and avoidance of bloopers. Obama might have had to serve many more years in the Senate before becoming President (my example, not mentioned in the book), and the careers of politicians would come to resemble the careers of corporate executives, with steady promotions to higher responsibilities as they acquire experience and the respect of their peers. Unfortunately recent GOP debates show that lack of knowledge of foreign affairs is no bar to high poll ratings, and I wonder if this will ever change.

Ch4 is about the need for long term objectives at the national level, and mechanisms to avoid short-termism (mainly in government, but also in business). China has adapted the five-year plan concept to this end, the US would probably have to do it somewhat differently.
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Format: Hardcover
The U.S. was conceived as a grand experiment. It effectively re-invented itself with the Civil War and again with the Depression / WW II. Likewise, any organization has to re-invent itself in order to remain vibrant and grow. Analogously, if you look at the constituents of the Dow Jones Industrials, only one company remains from 100 years ago. Companies either re-invent themselves or die. The Author's point throughout the book is that China has embraced the experimental nature of developing an economy with long-term plans that have goals and yardsticks for success. They have a meritocracy, run predominately by engineers, that promotes the best ideas and the execution of those ideas. Meanwhile, the USA has embraced a congress that is run by lawyers and heavily influenced by lobbyists. Estimates of over14,000 registered lobbyists (ratio of registered lobbyists to lawmakers is over 25:1) and thousands more unregistered, highlight the absurdity of the path we are currently pursuing. Think of formerly dominant companies like US Steel, Wang Computers, Xerox or Kodak; they all dominated their respective industries, but were left behind in a rapidly changing world. This is what happens when leadership and ideas become stale. We are in a post-industrial economy clinging to old ideas of a world that is gone. Isn't that exactly what all of the aforementioned companies did?

President George W. Bush initially estimated that the war on Iraq would cost $80 billion. When his chief economic advisor suggested it would be more like $200 billion, he was dismissed. It is currently estimated that the cost will come in at between $2 and $4 TRILLION. My guess is that, this is not tolerated in China or any US corporation and it shouldn't be tolerated HERE.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Al W. on February 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate enough to see Ann Lee's recent discussion on BookTV. In her book, Ann gives a very positive view of how the US could be learning from (and how to understand) China's approach. She is not 'endorsing' China but does provide a much more encompassing view. She mentions China's 'softer' approach to foreign relations. Personally, while visiting the Bahamas recently the guide pointed out the fenced/guarded American Embassy. However, a mile or so further on, he was much more effusive about the $30-million Thomas A Robinson National Stadium sports arena ([...]) the Chinese Government gave to the Bahamas. Talking about a difference in foreign relations and perception between the US and China.

Also, from her background in the Financial Markets she makes interesting observations of how to develop economy. In one instance, how China has achieved green power cost reduction to about a 20% premium over dirty power. In fact, she mentions it is likely that solar becomes cheaper in the near term in China.

She objectively points out issues in China, but at the same time, realizes their issues do not present a myopic reason to conclude that there is nothing to be learned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George Fulmore on May 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book grew on me as I read it. But I think its title is misleading. The bulk of the book is NOT about what the U.S. can learn from China. The bulk of the book is really about how the U.S. and China differ and/or are at differing points in their history and individual development.

There is a ton of U.S.-bashing throughout the book, most of it true and worth mentioning. But there clearly is not equal time spent bashing China, which surely has its faults, as well. If this were done, of course, the book would probably come out a draw, with little-to-no purpose.

So, let's accept things as they are: The book is slanted toward telling us how great China is and how full of holes the U.S. is and how the U.S. can get better by learning from the Chinese. But the real thesis may be that China has options to adopt, modify or reject what the U.S. has done so far, then try to copy, improve or not do at all some things as it develops. In other words, the goal of China cannot to be another U.S., nor should it be to be better in every way.
Beginning with the Preface, we are given two key points: 1) China is not going away, and 2) The rise of China does not imply "the fall of the American experiment." Implied is that Americans need be open-minded with all this, that China is NOT the enemy, and that the U.S. must have confidence in its future, relative to China. It is pointed out that, somewhat ironically, few Americans know that many of its founders, including Benjamin Franklin, advocated Confucian principles, a primary theme of which is that individuals should cultivate a lifetime of self-improvement for the benefit of society.

Ann Lee, the author, emigrated from Hong Kong to the U.S. when she was only in the second grade. What is that, about age 7?
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