How Asia Works
By Joe Studwell
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Bill Gates (CEO/Microsoft)
Studwell produces compelling answers to two of the greatest questions in development economics: How did countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and China achieve sustained, high growth? And why have so few other countries managed to do so? His answers come in the form of a simple—and yet hard to execute—formula:
- (1) create conditions for small farmers to thrive,
- (2) use the proceeds from agricultural surpluses to build a manufacturing base focused on exports, and
- (3) nurture both these sectors with financial institutions closely controlled by the government.
The agriculture section of the book was particularly insightful. It provided ample food for thought for me as well as the whole Agriculture team at our foundation. And it left us thinking about whether parts of the Asian model can apply in Africa.
In the 1980s and 1990s many in the West came to believe in the myth of an East-Asian economic miracle, with countries seen as not just development prodigies but as a unified bloc, culturally and economically similar, and inexorably on the rise.
In How Asia Works, Joe Studwell distills extensive research into the economics of nine countries—Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and China—into an accessible, readable narrative that debunks Western misconceptions, shows what really happened in Asia and why, and for once makes clear why some countries have boomed while others have languished. Impressive in scope, How Asia Works is essential reading for anyone interested in a region that will shape the future of the world.
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