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The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World Hardcover – May 10, 2011
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“The global economy is too complicated for slogans. Which is one reason why Michael Spence's new book is so refreshing. Spence, who shared the Nobel Prize in economics with Joseph Stiglitz in 2001, has systematically investigated the origins of hypergrowth, the process through which national economies rise from poverty to relative prosperity. In The Next Convergence, he presents a nuanced, highly readable argument on the symbiotic, fraught relationship between today's booming developing markets and the seemingly stagnant developed ones.” ―Daniel Gross, The Washington Post
“Cogent, comprehensive, and compelling, his book sorts out the issues, forces and trends driving 'the Inclusiveness Revolution,' the challenges facing China and India, and the impact on incomes, natural resources, and the environment.” ―Glenn C. Altschuler, The Huffington Post
“Michael Spence has written an intelligent, rational and humane book about the great economic event of our era: convergence, or the rapid rise of once poor countries. Anyone seeking a common-sense guide to the transformation under way need look no further . . . Readers will learn a great deal.” ―Martin Wolf, The Financial Times
“[A] sharp new book . . . It's rare to hear an economist raise even theoretical doubt over such a deeply ingrained assumption in Western economies.” ―Reuters
“Michael Spence has long been pointing out the frictions that interfere with efficient markets . . . [He]has much to offer from a rich career in research, academia and global policymaking.” ―The Economist
“Contrary to his book's title, Nobel Prize–winning economist Spence does less prognosticating than one might expect. Indeed, early on he shares a chart showing just how inaccurately economists predicted growth during the 1990s. Instead, he offers a comprehensive summary of the forces at play in today's global economy: removal of trade barriers, the lightning-fast transfer of knowledge from developed to emerging economies, global demand, resources, the role of national and international governments, and the management (or not) of currency rates, among others. Spence's style is pretty flat (Where's John Kenneth Galbraith when we need him?), and he seems to underestimate the looming role of climate change in any economic scenario. Yet his status report could give attentive readers a more empowered role in their own economic future.” ―Alan Moores, Booklist
“In recent years, developing countries have become an increasingly important driver of growth in the world economy, bringing about the prospect of a new and multi-polar landscape of the global economy in which the traditional gap in living standards between developing and advanced countries may possibly disappear. Michael Spence has written a succinct and clear analysis of the forces behind this fascinating process that is immensely readable, yet does justice to the complexity of the issues involved. Among the many books written on the new world economy this is one of the most profound. A must-read for everyone interested in the mega-trends shaping the future of the world economy.” ―Justin Yifu Lin, World Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Economist
“Rarely does one find a book that is so powerful in its analysis, timely in its topic, relevant in its thinking, and clear in its exposition. Combining his Nobel Prize winning theoretical brilliance and unmatched operational experience, Professor Spence explains clearly complex multi-speed dynamics that are rapidly impacting our world and influencing the current and future well being of billions. This is by far the best book I have seen on today's historical growth transformations.” ―Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, and author of When Markets Collide
“The emergence of China is just part of an amazing catching up process going in the world. We all feel this profound change, but few of us have the ability to step back, put it in perspective, analyze the past and guess where the future is taking us. Mike Spence has it, and he delivers. This is serious thinking, on essential issues. I learned a lot from the book, both in the small and in the large; I am sure other readers will as well.” ―Olivier Blanchard, IMF Chief Economist and Class of 1942 Professor Economics, MIT
“Among economists, common sense is not that common. Fortunately, Michael Spence has long bucked the trend. In this book he dispenses wisdom on economic growth – and much else – in accessible, bite-sized chunks. The world's policy makers better listen.” ―Dani Rodrik, Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
“I always knew that Mike Spence was a terrific economist. After reading this book I realize that he also has the rare ability to see the world economy--all of it, rich and poor--with clarity, reason and empathy. If you are looking for a lucid, readable, consistent, unprejudiced picture of what has been happening and what might happen next in the world economy, this is an excellent place to find it.” ―Robert Solow, winner of the 1987 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
About the Author
Michael Spence is a Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and was the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development. Winner of the Nobel 2001 Prize in Economic Sciences, he lives in California and Italy.
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The reading of this book is a humbling experience. The reader is immediately hit by the vast intellectual expanse of the topic and the Author's Nobel winning theoretical brilliance combined with his "hands-on" practical-analytical, integrative, and simplifying capabilities keeping the argumentation both rigorous and free from the rather unnecessary technical jargon.
Prof. Spence argues that the formerly huge asymmetries between advanced and developing countries are declining and the pattern for the first time in some 250 years is that of convergence rather than the usual divergence. Part one of the book deals with the shifting characteristics of the postwar global economy, part two is devoted to sustained economic growth theory and practices, part three analyzes the development impact of the Great Recession that started in 2008, and part four analyzes the future trends and sustainability of economic growth. Throughout the book, the leading leitmotiv is the issues of economic governance and leadership in this new era of convergence.
Economic growth dynamics is sometimes subject to hitherto rather unexplained statistical laws. For example, the so called 72 rule used by statisticians of growth says that the time it takes in years to double the economy in size is equal to 72 divided by the specific annual growth rate. So at 1% (e.g. EU) growth rate, economy (or income) doubles in 72 years; at China's usual 10% growth rate, economy doubles in roughly 7 years. This gives the reader a measure of the great power of the new convergence processes as well as a measure of the opportunity cost of development retardation due to wars, totalitarianism, political turmoil, endemic corruption or natural factors. Many developing countries, especially small and/or landlocked ones, spend long periods of time languishing in a low growth mode due to these factors. This "low equilibrium", that is not unlike a gravitation pull, must be broken by a decisive leadership and then shifted to a new sustainable pattern. Somewhat different challenges await countries that have already largely achieved a middle-income plateau.
Prof. Spence argues that we are now midway through a century of high growth in the developing world and a convergence with the advanced countries; this is the main trend that will change the world beyond recognition. He explains what happened to cause this dramatic shift in the prospects of the 5 billion or so people who live in developing countries, his discussions of human capital, knowledge transfer, and governance in the developmental catch-up processes are revealing. These newcomer countries have already become an increasingly important engine of growth in the global economy bringing about the prospects of new, multi-speed and multi-polar global village. I about a decade, over 50% of the global product will come from these developing countries that are probably better named emerging markets. This is a very optimistic message. However, these extraordinary developments will yet present hitherto unknown challenges in governance, international coordination, and environmental sustainability on a global scale, no doubt about it. The Author ventures a bold and lucid analysis of what is at stake for us and our children in this new brave converging global economy.
The book is likely to become a reference material for top level discussions about the state of this global village of ours in the next few decades. In particular, this Great Recession of will propel the book to one of the main readings on how to creatively rebalance the global economy and arrive at new and more sustainable re-combinations of global, continental, national, regional, local, and individual economic interests. As well, the thinking about modern roles of all the levels of government in the economy will be impacted deeply by this book. That helps a lot in the era of deepening theoretical confusion and helpless doom and gloom prognostications.
With a certain effort, the book is accessible to most educated readers. A very broad spectrum of readers can immensely benefit from reading this unique book but leaders of all kinds of organizations dispersed globally should adopt it as a must read.
Val Samonis, PhD, CPC
The Web Professor of Global Management(SM)
SEMI Online & The University of the Global Village
Toronto & Globally
Riding Modern Recessions: Experiential Learning for Governing Risks (The Series on Global Transformations in the 21st C, SEMI Online)
When I first ran across this book, I was absolutely intrigued. There is hardly an American who does not realize that the third world (especially China and India) are rapidly catching up with the economic strength of the western world. Given the current economic climate, how is this going to affect us going forward? Spence lays the groundwork in his impressive work The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World, explaining how the developing countries have been able to maintain an impressive growth rate (China is as 9.5%!), how they have weathered the Global Financial Crisis, and what is the next step for them and for the already advanced countries.
I found this book informative and fascinating, and was especially impressed how this Nobel Laureate author kept it at a level I could understand. I admit, I enjoy the topic of economics and have related college degrees, but most literate persons should be able to understand this book.
Most recent customer reviews
(1) the author's clear socialist bias annoys me - he clearly thinks that a big part of the solution is wealth...Read more