Tigers and snakes in the global economy

The other serious book I read among my holiday reading ([amazon_link id=”0718159209″ target=”_blank” ]The Collini Case[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0340994150″ target=”_blank” ]Breakdown[/amazon_link]) was Jonathan Fenby’s [amazon_link id=”1847394116″ target=”_blank” ]Tiger Head, Snake Tails[/amazon_link], which is a pleasing combination of high-level overview and complex detail. Pleasing because – as he points out in the introduction – there is a tendency in books by US and UK authors to either over-hype the marvellousness of China’s prospects or over-emphasise the pitfalls and difficulties the country will face in continuing its growth. The title Tiger Head, Snake Tails captures Fenby’s theme: the amazing promise combined with the multitude of problems and challenges being created by such rapid growth and change. I’ll write a review when I’ve finished it. Meanwhile, I’m learning a lot. And as a longtime journalist the author certainly knows how to keep the reader paying attention.

[amazon_image id=”1847394116″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Tiger Head, Snake Tails: China Today, How it Got There and Why it Has to Change[/amazon_image]

Actually, it has been a good year for my reading on China. I thought Michael Pettis was terrific on its role in the global economy, and how its domestic policy affects global imbalances, in [amazon_link id=”0691158681″ target=”_blank” ]The Great Rebalancing[/amazon_link]. Joe Studwell’s [amazon_link id=”1846682428″ target=”_blank” ]How Asia Works[/amazon_link] was excellent, although relatively little of it is about China. While I’m mentioning the forthcoming Perspectives series, one of the titles is by Jim O’Neill, [amazon_link id=”1907994130″ target=”_blank” ]The BRIC Road to Growth[/amazon_link]. He is more nuanced about China’s prospects than often assumed, acknowledging that its growth rate will slow compared with the recent past, but argues that even so the institutions of global economic governance urgently need to find a place for the large BRIC countries. I think Michael Pettis would agree.