Book Bits | 25 July 2015

The Global Economy in Turbulent Times
By See-Yan Lin
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In Global Economy in Turbulent Times, Harvard economist Dr. See-Yan Lin offers his timely and incisive views on today’s key economic issues. Adapted from his hugely popular column in the Malaysia Star newspaper, these articles offer fresh and entertaining perspectives on perennial economic problems. The discussion covers the world economy, with particular attention to the US, EU, Japan, and the international monetary system, as Dr. Lin explains how the economy is broken and offers multiple paths to repair. Coverage includes emerging East Asia, ASEAN (especially Malaysia), and BRICS nations, plus the author’s own views on global demography, the need for quality education, corporate governance in Malaysia, and more.

Cut Loose: Jobless and Hopeless in an Unfair Economy
By Victor Tan Chen
Summary via publisher (University of California Press)
Years after the Great Recession, the economy is still weak, and an unprecedented number of workers have sunk into long spells of unemployment. Cut Loose provides a vivid and moving account of the experiences of some of these men and women, through the example of a historically important group: autoworkers. Their well-paid jobs on the assembly lines built a strong middle class in the decades after World War II. But today, they find themselves beleaguered in a changed economy of greater inequality and risk, one that favors the well-educated—or well-connected. Their declining fortunes in recent decades tell us something about what the white-collar workforce should expect to see in the years ahead, as job-killing technologies and the shipping of work overseas take away even more good jobs.

The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse
By Jake Bright and Aubrey Hruby
Review via Publishers Weekly
The future of Africa is a daunting subject handled with acumen by Bright and Hruby. Both authors work in consulting with a primary focus on African finance. They begin by addressing the issues that arise when writing about the subject, among them: the risk of treating a large and diverse continent as a monolithic entity, the pitfalls of writing about it as non-Africans, and the need to avoid leaning too heavily toward either optimism or pessimism. An entire section is devoted to the obstacles presented by debt, unemployment, corruption, war, and the lingering effects of colonialism. According to the authors, what Africa needs is investment. They argue that Africa—particularly sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)—is on the rise and deserves the same opportunities given by the international community to other regions with similarly troubled histories.

The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power
By Thomas J. Christensen
Review via The New York Times
Christensen is aware that China largely escaped the international financial crisis and that in some respects its economic size and successes have been daunting, at least until recently. Yet, in 2013, he adds, its per capita G.D.P. was the equal of Ecuador’s, and “nobody is expecting ­Ecuadoreans to contribute greatly to global governance.” Furthermore, Christensen bluntly contends, Beijing, which uses its military against dissenting civilians, and which briefly experienced international sanctions following the Tiananmen demonstrations, is “predictably less comfortable than the capitals of the advanced liberal democracies with condemning, sanctioning and intervening in authoritarian regimes in the developing world.”

Sustainable Water: Challenges and Solutions from California
Edited by Allison Lassiter
Summary via publisher (University of California Press)
Water scarcity, urban population growth, and deteriorating infrastructure are impacting water security around the globe. Struggling with the most significant drought in its recorded history, California faces all of these challenges to secure reliable water supplies for the future. The unfolding story of California water includes warnings and solutions for any region seeking to manage water among the pressures of a dynamic society and environment. Written by leading policy makers, lawyers, economists, hydrologists, ecologists, engineers, and planners, Sustainable Water reaches across disciplines to address problems and solutions for the sustainable use of water in urban areas.