Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do Hardcover – Oct 4 2011
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• "Timely and fascinating, Napoleoni’s top-notch reporting, in which her attention turns from Viagra to blood diamonds to the banana price wars in a few pages, works in the vein of Freakonomics and Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, but much grimmer." --Publishers Weekly on Napoleoni’s Rogue Economics, a PW Book of the Year 2008
• "This thoughtful and incisive inquiry yields much insight into some of the most important issues of today, and tomorrow" --Noam Chomsky on Napoleoni’s Terror Incorporated
About the Author
A woman of the Left who garners praise from Noam Chomsky and Greg Palast at the same time as she is quoted respectfully in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, LORETTA NAPOLEONI was born in 1955 in Rome. In the mid 1970s she became an active member of the feminist movement in Italy, and later studied as a Fulbright Scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. She began her career as an economist, and went on to work as London correspondent and columnist for La Stampa, La Repubblica and La Paîs. Napoleoni is the author of the international bestsellers Rogue Economics: Capitalism’s New Reality and Terror Incorporated: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism. She has served as the Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, and lectures regularly around the world on economics, money laundering and terrorism. Napoleoni lives in London and Montana.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
While Napoleoni makes many good points, and may even be basing them on sound theory, the book as a whole is unfocussed and unsatisfying. The central problem is that Napoleoni's thesis is preconceived and then supported with disparate ideas, selectively drawn from an extremely wide range of facts and unsubstantiated opinions. The result is quite different from a thesis borne out of intimate knowledge of the data and a keen mind for synthesizing the information into cogent arguments. Maonomics is more like a very long undergraduate essay than a finely honed work drawn from a lifetime of experience and research, such as Professor Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel.
Still, there are bright spots.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Napoleoni maintains that lessons to be learnt from the Chinese economic miracle can be a universally applicable panacea to maladies in the western world. In this book, she tries to convince readers not to pass the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) off as a totalitarian regime with hostile and chronic transgression of environmental protection and violation of human rights and people's vital interest. Instead the three-decade economic reform has helped Chinese people to escape from extreme destitution and the regime has been becoming open to public criticism. Moreover, the fulcrum of demand-side economic philosophy underscores omnipresence of the government in choreographing investment activities in infrastructure and other public services for economic well-being of the people. To Napoleoni, Chinese politicians are devout Marxist and Confucian advocates and they behave ethically "like a father" (P.152) to protect economic well-being of their people. Nor do they malignantly belligerent and hegemonic when exploiting natural resources in African nations (P.271).
A blizzard of criticism with extreme invective and strays from factual accuracy of Machiavellian thought (P.149), neo-liberalism (P.81) and supply-side economic philosophy (P.215) teems in this book. Napoleoni maintains that they are inevitable causes of economic downturn in the western world. Politicians from the EU (i.e. Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi) and US (i.e. Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Alan Greenspan, Barack Obama) are blamed for the deregulation of risky financial activities and the abuse of media to propagate their beguiling mantras at the expense of people's vital interests. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to swallow the truth that politicians and the moneyed titans who take advantage of politics for their personal interest play havoc with democracy.
The author fails to give a fair assessment of political and economic policies in China. What might confound readers is the author's view on 1989 Tiananmen massacre. According to her, the massacre of innocent Chinese students by the CCP is for the best interest of China so that it could aptly "modernize following its own path" (P.98). Extant research and news on China have also highlighted chronic violation of human rights and suppression of investigative journalism in major scandals in China (i.e. clampdown on dissident and rights activist Ai Weiwei in Mar, high speed rail crash reporting in July, and sex slave crime reporting in Sept 2011). The author's superficial understanding of China and its political culture (i.e. guanxi) becomes a fatal defect to make a fair assessment of what has happened there.
Nonetheless, the success of China's economic reform is something politicians from the western world can look at. Things to be learnt from China's politics, however, should barely be emblematic to cure maladies of western democracy.
The title of this book "Maonomics" should be changed to "Dengnomics" (Deng introduced market economy and economic reform) or "Hunomics" (Hu emphasizes social harmony). Mao is the key founder of the CCP but he has made no significant influence and contribution to China's economic reform after 1978. To date Mao remains a far controversial figure because his rule from 1949 to 1976 is believed to have caused severe starvation and mass suicide as a result of numerous political and economic campaigns.
A quick summary. Iceland, guided by a neoliberal ideology sank into disaster, while China's economy following the opposite principles (really?) soared to new heights. Reagan and Thatcher badly damaged their economies, while Deng sent China on an upward path by forcing millions of people to work hard for very low wages (hey, to make an omlet you have to break some eggs). Marx would have been in favor of globalization, seeing it as a way to raise the conditions of the working class (the Chinese working class, at any rate). Napo highlights many shortcomings in China, such as hideous factory conditions, pollution, lack of rights. While not condoning these, she sees them as inevitable in a rapidly developing country and having some parallels with the early stages of the West's industrial revolution. For Napo, Deng's repression of TienAnMen was well justified: if Chinese had been granted full democratic freedoms in 1989 hundreds of millions of them would have flooded to the West bringing chaos in their wake (in this imaginative Western centric perspective, she takes for granted that they would have been admitted by western countries). In any case mistakes by Chinese leaders made in the name of the people are excusable, when western leaders are corrupt and care only about themselves. Western leaders bail out banks with taxpayer money, while China where necessary recapitalizes state banks that have non-performing loans so they can keep lending (see the difference?).
We also learn: p.67 Chinese ships under admiral Cheng He discovered America in 1421 (!), p.108 JP Morgan used TARP funds to acquire Bear Stearns in the Spring of 2008 (wasn't TARP approved in the Fall of 2008?). p.127 The Fed followed an aggressive disinflation policy which resulted in the financial crisis (weren't Fed rates held very low from 2000 to 2005?), p.204 oil was the fuel that made the Industrial Revolution possible (I thought it was coal?), p. 284 in China's DNA the business gene has replaced the colonization gene (whatever that means). But the emphasis is on the big picture, not the specifics.
I found the book entertaining, but ultimately superficial. What is the point? Nowhere does she suggest specific policies that would improve the situation, she just revels in the good guys' successes (China) and in the bad guys' comeuppance (the neoliberal west), even winking at AlQaida for its daring. There are far better books on the financial crisis (Rajan, Nocera, etc.), on chinese policies and China's opening (Kissinger's is the latest), on China's role in Africa (such as Brautigam), on what the US can learn from its competition with China (Ann Lee) and the many other subjects briefly touched in this book.
I lived in China and I think I am knowing this country much better than author.
I need to point out,
1. None of any government official will resign publicly, no matter what kind of disaster they caused. They can be removed from office. But nobody will take the responsibility by himself. Generally speaking the big boss will find a scapegoat and grant some compensation in few years, for instance, give him another, even better job.
2. The bank system is a part of government. These years people are suffering an obvious currency inflation caused by the bank. And in this spot, the winners are the government officials, bankers and real estate developers.
3. These years, we heard of that quite a lot lawyers and reporters were put into jail because of muckracking.
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