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Winner Take All: China's Race For Resources And What It Means For The World [Hardcover]

Dambisa Moyo
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 25 2012
Newspaper headlines and media commentators scream warnings of the impending doom nearly every day—shortages of arable land, clashes over water, and the political Armageddon as global demand for energy in the form of fossil fuels far outstrips any possible supply. The picture painted is bleak, and the possible impact of commodities markets on how we live is far-reaching, but our grasp of the details and the mega shifts in the commodity space remains blurred. There’s so much noise surrounding resource scarcity and China’s emerging dominance in commodities that we risk complacency. Overturning our assumptions, bestselling author Dambisa Moyo charts the commodity dynamics that the world will face over the next several decades, and the implications of China’s rush for resources across all regions of the world, from Africa to Latin America, from North America to Europe to Australia.

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About the Author

DAMBISA MOYO is an international economist who comments on the macroeconomy and global affairs. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa and How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly—and the Stark Choices Ahead. In 2009 Dr. Moyo was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Her writing regularly appears in publications such as the Financial Times, The Economist and The Wall Street Journal. She completed a PhD in economics at Oxford University and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University. She lives in London, England. Visit her online at www.dambisamoyo.com.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars It's just OK, but... Jan. 20 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A tough read. She has the background knowledge of the topic, but she really doesn't make it that interesting.
My rating? Don't buy...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dambisa Moyo doesn't dissappoint April 5 2013
By J. Tupone TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a terrific read. Dambisa Moyo is a great writer and covers topics that are very interesting. Some of her writing does get a little heavy on the formula side, but rarely and she explains such things in an easy to understand manner. It is a very interesting and well written book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Perspective Dec 28 2012
By DBM
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A facinating book providing insight into a complex subject. Clearly China has analyzed how to best use its financial strength to gain access to the resources it will need.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dambisa takes all July 21 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent read on a very pertinent and interesting subject matter. The author gives you the information without making it.a dull dry read.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Book June 7 2012
By Book Shark - Published on Amazon.com
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Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World by Dambisa Moyo

"Winner Take All" is an even-handed assessment on China's race for resources and the implications this has for the rest of the world. The book's spotlight is on China's central role in the commodities dynamics. Best-selling author, international economist and a native of Zambia, Dr. Moyo has written a professional yet accessible book that tackles the following broad themes: economic implications of China's ascendency, China's growing financial reach and its implications for the workings of the global commodity markets, and the social and political implications of China's quest for resources. In general, the author succeeds in addressing the main themes through substance rather than with style and flair. This 272-page book is broken out in two parts: Part I - China's Rush for Resources and Part II - What China's Resource Rush Means for the World.

Positives:
1. Well-researched and well-written book that is accessible for the masses.
2. An even-handed book. The author seems very fair and logical. Her arguments and assessments are backed by sound economic perspectives. She's not afraid to be critical while remaining objective.
3. Dr. Moyo has the right background and great credentials to write such books. I'm also happy to see a female voice who is a native of Zambia in an otherwise male-dominated arena providing some refreshing and thought-provoking insights.
4. The author lays out early on what this book is all about and proceeds to methodically support her arguments with sound economic logic and knowledge. I like how the author considers various points of view of an issue.
5. Effective use of charts, stats and facts that add value to the narrative of the book.
6. Does a wonderful job of establishing China's economic agenda.
7. Enlightening look at the global commodity complex. The demand pressures on: arable land, water, energy, and minerals. "The world's most important commodities have one crucial thing in common: they are increasingly becoming scarce, as the earth's (finite) natural resources supply has not adequately kept up with the rising demand". Excellent snapshot of the world's resource supply. Kudos.
8. China's effective three-pronged approach into international resource markets. How China does it. Excellent narrative on this.
9. Amazing facts and thought-provoking statements. "China's fleet has also mirrored its growing importance in shipping, increasing from 1,367 to 3,127 vessels in the decade between 2001 and 2011".
10. China's and the world's biggest challenges.
11. The inner working of the global commodity markets. Perhaps the most complicated aspect of this book but the author keeps it manageable.
12. The perceived threats of China's growing role to the rest of the world. China's commodity campaign. Excellent points.
13. Three unique characteristics of credit-market crises and the two incontrovertible instances when government intervention is warranted.
14. China's strategy in practice and how the hosts perceive it. Is it beneficial?
15. Global food insecurity, it comes down to: food waste, misallocation of food, and policies that disincentives food production. One of the strongest points of the book.
16. Shale and its prospects for transforming the energy sector. Also an interesting look at nuclear energy.
17. A look at pollution.
18. The clash and potential for violence over resources. Demand-supply imbalances.
19. You can only come up with good answers if you ask the right questions...the author asks all the right questions. A global effort to address the questions.
20. Does a real good job of summarizing her main point.
21. Links to notes worked great and bibliography provided

Negatives:
1. The book tends to be repetitive. The author hammers certain points and comes back to them frequently. One thing is clear you will absorb what China's main goals are and that is a goal of the book.
2. The book lacks panache. The writing style is a bit stiff and lacks flair. It's not very engaging even though I do feel it was effective.
3. Some acronyms were not properly defined. As an example, BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent).
4. It doesn't say much about Chinese culture it's all about the economics and implications.
5. A few times the book wasn't consistent at one point it describes as 800 million Chinese as living in poverty while in another occasion it was a billion. I'm an engineer, I'm sorry I notice these things.
6. I'm always a little leery of referencing the Heritage Foundation the same outfit that denies climate change while the author clearly accepts it. That being said it appears the database referenced is useful.

In summary, this is a very effective and even-handed book. The author takes her emotions out of it and proceeds to support her arguments with sound logic and economics. My only main gripe with the book has to do with the stiff, as-a-matter-of-fact style. A little more engaging style would have made the book more enjoyable for readers. Be that as it may, I have a much better understanding of China's growing role in the global economy and for that I thank Dr. Moyo. If you are interested in global economics and the race for scarce resources, this is the book to read!

Further recommendations: "Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa" by Damisa Mojo, "The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality" by Richard Heinberg, "The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment" by Chris Martenson, "Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil" by Peter Maass, and "The Post-American World: Release 2.0" by Fareed Zakaria.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The challenges of a resource-scarce future June 7 2012
By John Gibbs - Published on Amazon.com
Over the next several decades the world will almost certainly face global tensions arising from greater resource scarcity, according to Dambisa Moyo in this book. China is the only one of the world's great powers to focus its economic and political strategy on anticipating the considerable challenges presented by a resource-scarce future.

The book describes a range of limited resources, including arable land, water, minerals and oil, and examines the future implications for China and for the rest of the world. China is both the leading buyer of the world's resources and the main trading partner of many countries, giving it enormous economic power. Particularly in Africa, China is a significant funder of governments and infrastructure projects.

In view of the controversial nature of the author's previous books Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa and How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly--and the Stark Choices Ahead, and in particular her suggestion that the US should default on its loans from China, readers may be surprised to discover that she does not take an anti-Chinese approach in this book. While some regard China's resources rush in Africa as neo-colonialist, the author says that, for the moment, China would seem to be one of the forces actively working to improve Africa and the prospects of its people. She points out that China is almost universally viewed by Africans as having a more beneficial impact on African countries than does the United States.

The book's message is that the rest of the world needs to wake up to the coming resources scarcity and take appropriate action. The urgency of that message depends on how imminent the reader thinks the scarcity is. The book suggests a Malthusian viewpoint in which escalating population and depletion of resources leads to catastrophes.

As is the case with her other books, the author describes complex economic concepts in easy-to-understand language that does not assume any prior knowledge. The book is both thought-provoking and instructive, even for readers who do not agree with the scarcity scenarios.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessarily sensational Aug. 21 2012
By foxmulder_ms - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
As its tittle demonstrates this book is exaggerating the situation and blaming China (and developing world including India, Brazil etc. ) for a possible supply crisis in commodities. Two biggest blunders of the book are

1) It completely ignores that China is the biggest producer of many commodities. It produces much much more than it imports. (Anyone can google it, only significant exception is oil)

2) China is not trying to grasp the current supply of commodities, on the contrary it invests to create new suppliers in Africa, Australia and South America. This distinction is not apparent when you read the book.

Book also has very curios mistakes such as "copper in future will be less pure". I've just lol'ed to that one :)

Book has couple of good points too tough.

It clearly states that people in Africa "like" Chinese involvement because they see it as win-win situation.

Humanity needs to be much more careful with its consumption of resources especially when it comes to water and food.

Political myopia is the biggest problem.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars China: Friend or enemy? Jan. 24 2013
By Claude Joseph - Published on Amazon.com
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After Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo does not choose to rest on her laurels. Her campaign aiming at providing a better grasp of Africa's prospects in a global world continues in a more relevant and meticulous fashion. Her new book, Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What it Means for the World, is a blatant proof showing that the international success of Dead Aid was not a result of random happenstance. Dambisa Moyo is deep, her new book is very insightful; however, I argue that her thought should not got unchallenged.

In Dead Aid, Moyo is blunt. She argues that the cause of Africa's precarious conditions is aid, mainly concessional (non-emergency) loans and grants. Over the years, $1 trillion of development aid went to Africa from Western governments through a variety of channels. But, Africa has not been better off. Hence, aid, according to Moyo, is the cause of poverty in Africa.

To me, this is a pretty bold statement, and I am afraid that it does suffer from a type of logical fallacy known as "the post hoc fallacy," one that confuses correlation with causation. But notwithstanding this logical shortcoming, the existing positive correlation between aid and poverty (i.e., more aid, more poverty) in Africa is suggestive. Why on earth over the past thirty years, the most aid-dependent countries, according to Moyo, have enjoyed growth rates averaging minus 0.2 per cent per annum. Between 1970 and 1998, when aid flows to Africa were at their peak, poverty increased from about 12 percent to a shocking 66 percent. Africa's real GDP per capita today is lower than that in the 1970s, "leaving many African countries at least as poor as they were forty yeas ago.[1]" Is not that a clear signal that something is amiss? Yes indeed. And, Moyo seems to come to grips with the missing point. Why developed countries through international institutions such as World Bank and IMF keep doing the same thing despite the fact that aid policies have been falling short of expectations? The response, according to the native of Zambia is that: the number of people employed in World Bank, IMF, UN agencies, and a myriad of registered NGOs is about 500,000. They are all in the business of aid. So, readers that are bewildered by the relationship between aid and development in Africa and elsewhere (in Haiti for instance) can now draw their own conclusion!!!

In Winner Take All, Moyo's crusade continues. China that once was a friend, a much better one compared to the Western counterparts (see Dead Aid, Chapter 7: Chinese are Our Friends), should now be kept in the loop if we are to secure a common and better future for the world. Why? Because China's seemingly unstoppable desire to keep up with its economic development will have global consequences for all of us. China's rush for commodities around the world, particularly in developing countries with a specific focus on Africa is, Moyo contends, unprecedented in history, outstripping even the insatiable demands for raw materials sparked by the eighteenth century Industrial Revolution. China is buying up mountains in Peru and lands in Africa with the sole intention of anticipating the considerable challenges presented by a resource-scarce future. Given that the world resources - water, copper, mineral, and other foodstuffs - are scarce, there are reasons to be scared. Moyo urges other world power to be more proactive because if China is left alone, it will have an incentive to determine on an arbitrary basis the price of these commodities and hence disturb the market mechanisms. This is what economists call monopsony.

If China's rapid campaign for resources continues at this pace, Moyo foresees an ominous situation characterized by a swift surge in commodity prices, which in turn will lead to worsening living standards across the globe. And, "in the extreme", the story goes on, "as resource scarcity becomes more biting, commodity shortages could lead to outright war."[2]

Moyo's book that purports to examine the economic implication of China's ascendancy as the lead buyer of the world resources, presents some very unpleasant facts. While I don't want you to be overwhelmed by a great deal of details, I think it is worthwhile to mention the followings (and please bear with me): of what the world disposes as lands, only 11 percent (or 1.4 billion hectares) is arable - suitable for crops. The other 89 percent, unfortunately, is essentially composed of mountains and deserts, thus making its exploitation for food production highly unlikely. The landscape is more distressful when Moyo presents the density of people per unit of arable land, which according to her is more accurate than population density - the number of people per unit of area of land. For instance, Moyo reckons, with a world of roughly seven billion for a 1.4 billion hectares of arable land, the situation in an ideal planet is not threatening because if land were evenly distributed, every five people would share a hectare of land. That would be wonderful, no fear of scarce resources and I am sure that Winner Take All would not even exist. But, since the world's land is unevenly distributed in a sense that while some countries possess lots of arable land to dedicate to food production, others have relatively less. China epitomizes this reality perfectly. With its world's largest population, China has only around 12 percent arable land. So, China's unmatched relationship between supply and demand of natural resources is what explains the country relentless endeavors to control the world resources.

Now, to what extent should we take Moyo's concerns, alarms and appeals at face value? Are we truly living in a Malthusian world? Is this really the crucial problem facing mankind? I must acknowledge that these questions do not by any means intend to underestimate Moyo's preoccupations. To some extent, I believe that she put forward legitimate points that we should take into account in a holistic approach to the world challenges. However, the above questions can stimulate (prospective) readers to go over Moyo's oeuvre with a fine-tooth comb. When one reads Winner Take All with a more critical thinking, we are inclined to wonder: What about human's abilities to devise ways to cope with these issues? Inasmuch as it is not the first time that likewise fears are projected,[3] and to the extent that mankind has always created efficient ways to cope with them, it is legitimate to wonder whether Moyo's arguments are not inflated.

By reading the book, you might have your own point...

After all, I commend Moyo for such a well-done job...

Claude Joseph
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Must Read" Information, but Only Worth a Few Pages Oct. 29 2012
By RTK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book describes how China is gaining present and future access to the world's commodities. I came away valuing what I learned, but feeling the content was more appropriate for an article in The Economist. At times I felt the author was trying to expand in order to fill a book, e.g. some discussion of commodities trading terms, which added nothing to the explanation, and only created confusion as I tried to figure out whether she had it right (it didn't matter since it seemed irrelevant).
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