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Fortune Favors the Bold: What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity Hardcover – October 7, 2003
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With Fortune Favors the Bold: What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity, Lester Thurow follows on his bestsellers The Zero-Sum Society and The Future of Capitalism by addressing the path to globalization. Thurow--a Professor of Management and Economics at MIT's Sloan School--draws uncompromising conclusions: only a bold embrace of globalization will bring prosperity, and nations that fail to engage in global economics will fall behind the world's dominant powers.
He sees three simultaneous revolutions that fuel the rush to global business: the birth of knowledge-based industry, the creation of a global economy built on a worldwide information infrastructure, and the victory of capitalism. But Thurow is not naively optimistic about the prospects for prosperity in this new framework. The U.S. trade deficit, the Chinese export economy, the SARS epidemic, and the stagnating Japanese economy all offer real threats to short-term and long-term well-being.
Some readers will be frustrated that Fortune Favors the Bold does not deliver a detailed set of solutions to these impediments to global prosperity, despite Thurow's thorough research. The U.S. trade deficit, like the absence of international intellectual property rights, he labels a "dilemma": a problem that has no prescriptive answer. Crises will occur, he suggests. The challenge is to prepare for them and manage them well. Thurow urges the creation of new institutions to confront these dilemmas head on, notably the creation of a Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) for governments and major corporations. The CKO will provide a central intelligence to steer nations and corporations through the difficulties of economic revolution. For Thurow, fortune will favor those leaders who boldly shape globalization and invest in emerging technologies. Those who stand by will be doomed to marginalization. --Patrick O'Kelley
From Publishers Weekly
With no viable alternatives to capitalism remaining, says Thurow, the "third industrial revolution" makes a global market economy inevitable. The only question is exactly how the globalization process will unfold. Thurow admits flaws in the capitalist system, but firmly believes the game can be handicapped to reduce some of the inequalities. As the former dean of MIT's business school, the author may be a master economist; his take on matters such as Japan's stagnancy in the 1990s is certainly sharp and insightful. But when he tackles other cultural and social issues, there are enough hyperbolic statements on basic subjects open to debate-such as the assertion that the music recording industry faces "economic extinction" and that the film industry may soon follow-that the reader is not always inclined to trust his judgment. Proposals for global financial reform, such as transforming the International Monetary Fund into international bank deposit insurance, read as pie-eyed rather than visionary. To ensure affordable medicine for the third world, for example, he suggests governments use the principle of eminent domain to scoop up pharmaceutical patents. He has an even more reckless plan for dealing with copyrights and patents, in which the American government would simply allow corporations to ignore intellectual property claims originating in countries that refuse to prosecute their own copyright pirates. Such shaky advice undermines the more effective historical and contemporary economic analysis.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
It was fascinating to learn about how patents can be used as weapons or strategic pawns in the race to innovate. Cluster, picket, and submarine patents are all strategies that can allow one to deny an innovator his innovation.
During a recent Christmas season Amazon suddenly announced it had a patent on one click checkout and sought to stop other online retailers from using the one click checkout system. Now, Amazon expected to loose their case, but they gained tremendous advantage by disrupting others. Smart!
You will, I trust, enjoy this book as much as I did.
This is more a consciousness raising tome than a fun, fact-filled poolside read. The writer is expressing that Globalism is here and here to stay and it makes sense to - pardon - "join 'em if y' can't beat 'em". We can lay back into the Socialisic nature of the phenomenon, the capitalist impetus of the phenomenon, or we can simply...lead it!
Much has been written here regarding the author's views on China, his assessment of its' industry and communications: he seems to have forgotten to buy the Almanac in his manuscript phase. This Reviewer is no expert in this area, but let's remember that in '09 China was able to buy the USA debt and give us conniptions with their (suddenly) aggressive exporting. In '05, I assume it was a more quiet, stable working relationship.
Some food for thought: the author challenges us to apply ":bold" to actually willingness to lose some cache econmociall to help another continent, always held back by France and England...Africa. We have put a lot of resource and energy - and sent 10s of 1000s of American lives to an early grave in the Indochina and the Middle East while the Sudan suffered beyond dreams of the Vietcong and Al Caeda. Globalization would invite Africa to the table for the first time.
Another probability for the "new bold" to digest: a new Department of Knowledge for the USA, as information Technology grows by leaps and bounds, as it does already with "Obamacare".
I wonder if a 12 page piece (with lively humourous hypotheticals, even cool cartoons) for the New Yorker would have gotten the message across; but I suspect that, over time, this book will have stronger resonance in the pundit community. For example, his muse on "intellectual rights" lends to lingering wonder about our distinctly American *creativity*: as copyright laws are different in every country, as patents are as difficult as ever in our country, will our literary, performing arts, sporting industries be affected as much as our financial sector?
The book lays out some ideas for averting the worst of possible economic futures. I would agree that many are idealistic and probably unworkable. But if this book does no more than prime an intelligent public dialog on the subject of deficit financing, it will have helped this democracy function with it's collective eye on the most important questions.
The reviewer who gave this volume such a low score is himself a "part of the problem." Everywhere I wander in search of economic enlightenment, I find doctrinaire petty political philosophers who are captured by this or that "school" of economics, finding truth exclusively in Keynes, M. Friedman, Laffer/Gilder or some other. The problem is that none of these "schools" or their mindless proponents would recognize a real dynamic model capable of prediction. Economics has not yet become a mature science: it has no equivalent to quantum mechanics which can predict the outcome from a set of initial conditions. So almost all economic writings are anecdotal and filled with special terminology that poorly substitutes for mathematical precision. One can comfortably adopt any particular "school" that fits one's world view because there is no predictive test to say that one or the other is wrong. I have the intuition, admittedly unschooled, that both Keynes and Friedman contribute to an accurate set of expectations.
Thurow certainly does NOT advocate prolonged US trade deficits of the sort we have now. But his view that foreign investment in the US drives our trade deficit, and not the other way around, is supported by none other than the libertarian, Ayn Rand disciples at the CATO Institute. See, for example, work of Daniel Griswold. The CATO work also sees global economic health in a balance which favors capital investment in the US and a constrained non-zero trade deficit.
Having said all this praise, I would nevertheless recommend some other economic books over this one. FFB really needed a post-2008 update. Being written about 10 years ago, too much information is irrelevant to our current economic circumstances. Hopefully, Thurow will write an analysis of the post financial crash soon. I'll be among the first to read (and) review that book.