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Borderless Economics: Chinese Sea Turtles, Indian Fridges and the New Fruits of Global Capitalism [Hardcover]

Robert Guest
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2011
Acentury ago, migrants often crossed an ocean and never saw their homelands again. Today, they call - or Skype - home the moment their flight has landed, and that's just the beginning. Thanks to cheap travel and easy communication, immigrants everywhere stay in intimate contact with their native countries, creating powerful cross-border networks.

In Borderless Economics, Robert Guest, The Economist's Business Editor, travels through dozens of countries and 44 American states, observing how these networks create wealth, spread ideas and foster innovation. He shows how:
* Brainy Indians in America collaborate with brainy Indians in India to build $70 fridges and $300 houses
* Young Chinese study in the West and then return home (where they're known as "sea turtles"), infecting China with ideas that will eventually turn it democratic
* The so-called "brain drain" - the flow of educated migrants from poorcountries to rich ones - actually reduces global poverty
*America's unique ability to attract and absorb migrants lets it tap into the energy of all the world's diaspora networks. So despite its current woes, if the United States keeps its borders open, it will remain the world's most powerful nation indefinitely.
With on-the-ground reporting from Asia, Africa, Europe and even Idaho, this book examines how migration, for the all the disruption it causes, makes the world wealthier and happier.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (1 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230113826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230113824
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 579,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'Optimism is out of fashion at the moment, what with financial crises and joblessness in the headlines, and optimism about (or in) the US is less fashionable still. Into this dour setting, Robert Guest, business editor of The Economist, has arrived in his party clothes. Guest's new book Borderless Economics, is a celebration of the modern upsides of globalisation, immigration and kinship ties. As such, it might be the least fashionable important book to appear in some time.' - Pietra Rivoli, Financial Times

'Guest has produced a book that is witty, rigorous, humane, provocative and dazzlingly well-reported. Everyone should read it. Bravo!' - Tim Harford, author of Adapt and The Undercover Economist

'Fantastically entertaining and well-written…[I] couldn't put it down.' Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail and Free

'An informative, engaging survey of the beneficial consequences of globalization.' Kirkus Reviews

"Robert Guest has discovered the quantum mechanics of economic growth and political liberty. It turns out the wave-particle duality of economic matter and political energy is us. We the people of the world - moving where we want and doing what we will - create the universe of progress. Governments of Earth, say goodbye to the Newtonian concepts of nation and state. The apple of Borderless Economics has hit you on the head and knocked you out." P. J. O'Rourke

'For most, globalization has been about the movement of goods, services, technology and capital. As Robert Guest succinctly explains in this eminently readable book, globalization is actually about people - their migration, the networks they form and the ideas that they transmit through their mobility. In a world grappling with rising protectionist fever, this book is a warning that those nations who want to batten down the hatches and shut the free flow of people and ideas do so at their own risk.' Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India

'Too much of economic and political analysis is about countries. Robert Guest shows us the myriad ways in which countries are connected by people who move around to learn, to work and to live. These networks are increasingly central both to the nature of opportunity and to public policy issues in the United States. The book is persuasive: America will stay prosperous and strong only so long as we remain the Hub of the World.' Simon Johnson, co-author, 13 Bankers, and professor at MIT Sloan

"This is a thoughtful, entertaining and above all inspiring hymn of praise to the cultural, social and economic benefits of freer migration. Its conclusion should be noted by every politician running for office: immigration is an opportunity, not a threat."—Bill Emmott, author of 20:21 Vision and Rivals

'A wonderful antidote to the tired and vague clichés about 'globalization'. Drawing on a breadth of research and decades of reporting from 70 countries, Robert Guest makes the case for why global migration is (mostly) an extraordinary force for good.' - Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science

'Amusing, intelligent and full of statistics, Borderless Economics is the perfect starting point for exploring new diasporas and international networks.' -LSE Political Blog
 
'Lucidly written, with a bit of humour thrown in, Robert Guest discusses the issue of migrations and immigrants at a practical level, trying to make politicians see the sense in it.' -Organiser
 
'This is a superb book...' - Iqbal Quadir, Nature

Book Description

The Global Business Editor for The Economist looks at how today's international diasporas are accelerating and diversifying the flow of ideas, technology, and wealth, improving lives across the globe

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book is a breath of fresh air! It brings to the forefront the facts that people who emigrate & immigrate are the basis for our world trade advancement and should be encouraged to do so. By learning new languages, customs but by keeping they own identities and also their own customs they develop new ideas and open up new worlds.
I would highly recommend this book. In fact I will re-read it as it encourages me to keep going in my own business and gives me plenty of optimism for my own future.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts off nice, then devolves into Cheerleading. Not bad. 21 Dec 2011
By Michael A. Robson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The thing that you have to understand about Economists is that they're generally an optimistic bunch, but they're really annoyed by the complications of...reality. They love models: models are perfect and simple. Because they omit externalities and oddities, they work perfectly. The simplest of models involve but two variables: wine and cheese, money and time, socks and shoes, and so on. As you progress further in your studies of the dismal science, you must heartbreakingly accept that in the real world, there is almost no application for a two-variable model.

It's heartbreaking because in the sterile simplicity of Economics, the world works perfectly. Everyone who wants a job, has one; everyone who wants to borrow money, can; if you want time off work, you just work fewer hours. In the world of Economics we are all Utility Calculators, and we're very good at what we do. We scan the job market for opportunities, spot them, and train to be the next Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, or Homer Simpson, depending our utility/salary demands (shockingly, no one ever chooses to be homeless, or a drug addict, or unemployed in this model).

In the world of Economic models, not only do we all have jobs, but we all have jobs that we're good at, so we make a lot of money. On top of that, we enjoy our jobs. In other words, if you simplify the model enough, you can actually create the conditions for perfect Human Capital Allocation.

My point is this: there are a few differences between the skills in this world, and where they are most needed (likewise, the low-skill human labor, and where that's needed). It's just of a pain in the butt that these two groups can't find each other more easily. If they could, so theorizes Robert Guest, we could solve most if not all of the world's problems. In a perfect Economic World, every product has the perfect price, there is no Economic profit, and everyone is maximizing their happiness. How adorable.

This is a book about the growing importance of Diasporas, and what it means for all of us (regardless of which country we hail from). So what's a Diaspora, anyway?

di·as·po·ra'
[dahy-as-per-uh]

1.any group migration or flight from a country or region. Synonyms: dispersion, dissemination, migration, displacement, scattering. Antonyms: return.

2.any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

So what happens when the simplicity of Economics smashes head on into the stone cold reality of governments, politics, culture, religion, racism, language, and other barriers? Koreans can work in the USA if they're willing to learn English and speak it 24/7. No shock there. Americans can work in Paris if they can learn French and take up smoking. Anyone (for example a Mainland Chinese) who doesn't have the right Passport, can't leave the country without an invitation letter from Harvard. So, this is the world we live in: some privileged few can re-allocate their Human Capital if they're willing to overcome real barriers, but many cannot. Robert Guest (big shot at The Economist) is suggesting that if we didn't have...er...countries, we wouldn't have all these problems. You could take it a step further and suggest that if we didn't have ownership/territory/property and all the resulting wars, the world would be a much nicer place. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon either. Once again, the model, beautiful as it is, crumbles when we touch it with our clumsy human hands.

Real Economic development still comes from the top: great countries with great leaders instilling the big three (education, health and wealth) in a populace in a balanced distribution. But there are a few things we can spread across the world without a visit to the Chinese Consulate: ideas (this might explain why some of the most totalitarian states monitor and block Internet access to `radical thinking'). The great thing about Diaspora Networks is that they're usually made up of the best and brightest. The Mainland Chinese who got into Ivy League schools still make up some of the brightest the country has to offer. With their experience abroad, they represent a fine blend of East and West. They can pick and choose what they like and what they don't like about both. And maybe, just maybe, they can return to their home country and report, and share, and improve things. For that there are three requirements: first, you must leave your home country; second, you must return to your home country; third, you must love your home country enough to want risk everything (your career, your family, your friendships) to change it.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immigration and Economics - It Actually Makes Sense 12 Dec 2011
By Marc S. Ginsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Guest's book does a remarkable job of taking an extremely complex subject and making it accessible. The argument that loosening immigration barriers could impact global economics more than trade policy is powerfully made. The use of facts and data is certainly not surprising in a book about economics. What makes this book such an enjoyable read, however, is the use of stories of members of various diaspora about their experience.

Mr. Guest's experience working for The Economist has provided him opportunity to meet and engage with members of numerous diaspora throughout his career. He has taken their experiences and managed to shift my thinking about both immigration policy in the United States and the entire concept of "brain drain". It does not hurt that the author has a great sense of humor that he puts on display throughout the book when you would least expect it.

All in all - a complex story well told.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superlatively superb tour d'horizon of the global economy 24 Nov 2011
By MacPherson the Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The very word, "economics" may strike fear into the hearts and minds of many a reader who thinks he or she is more comfortable in the safety of the humanities -- literature and the arts.

No need to fear the subject any longer! In the vivid prose of master-journalist Robert Guest of the highly literate Economist, the subject of globalized business becomes as fascinating as a page-turning mystery, and as appealing as a slice of chocolate cake.

BORDERLESS ECONOMICS is a romp of a ride through the conference rooms and idea labs around the world. Guest is a magnificent story-teller and in his hands, "economics" becomes a thrilling tale of extraordinary men and women who have imagined original products that we all use and need -- when the rest of us had no idea we'd ever come to rely on them in our daily lives.

If you buy and read only one book on the exciting world of innovators of tomorrow, BORDERLESS ECONOMICS should be that one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Descriptions of the Mutual Benefits of Immigration and with a Utopian View of the Future 5 Feb 2012
By Daniel Hurley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I heard the author interviewed on National Public Radio and was taken by his description of the benefits of immigration and a future that has a greater relaxation of restrictions and delays in immigration policies. In an early chapter Guest compares North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, with South Korea noting at the end of World War II, the north was more advanced than the south. Today Guest notes the North Koreans suffer from malnutrition exemplified by the fact that the North Koreans are 6 inches shorter than their southern cousins. The amount of isolation and limited education has kept the North economically backward and is the extreme example of a lack of flow of ideas and exchange of information. Guest also challenges those that fear immigration, touching on the USA, noting that immigrants make both countries stronger, adding necessary labor, industry, investors, scientists, doctors and educators to the country they migrate to. In exchange, money is sent back to their family in their home countries creating a direct economic support that has a much more greater impact then aid programs where governments of many counties tap into into significant cuts. The author also discusses other countries particularly China, India and several African nations concerning their economic and social situations. Guest also puts in a more positive perspective about the USA still being the most viable country in the world and most attractive by immigrants who seek economic freedom, the best education in the world, and an opportunity to help their family back home, many often returning to their homeland, bringing education, money and business ideas. As Guest notes, an example are the children of the leaders of China's communist party often sent to the USA for education, returning home; hopefully to initiate positive change not just sustaining the status quo.
The author discusses how migration creates diasporas that, particularly with the aid of the Internet, maintain closer connections to family and their culture but yet still can assimilate in their host country. The book is very readable with numerous individual examples of people who have benefited from immigrating including future physicians who regretfully may not return to their native country due to the extreme poverty and difficulty to maintain themselves economically. Ironically, some of their own medical efficiencies in their home countries offer constructive cost control strategies that could enhance our own health insurance costs. But that is the great benefit that Guest presents, the greater the network of exchange ideas and sharing information among societies, doctors, scientists, inventors, investments can make the world better. The conclusion has a touch of John Lennon's 'Imagine', unrestrained immigration globally that may be a reality some day when and if terrorism ever realistically disappears.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely marvellous (and surprisingly entertaining) 10 Nov 2011
By RatherNot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Does the world really need another book about globalisation? Yes, it does. And this is that book.

My pleasure reading is confined mainly to fiction, and I basically agreed to read this book as a favour to a colleague who wanted a second opinion. I owe that colleague a debt, because "Borderless Economics" is one of the best books I have read this year. Guest is, as one would expect of an Economist journo, a brilliant writer and he expertly weaves analysis with anecdote, fact with opinion. Although he is clearly well-versed in economics and public policy, Guest's journalism lends his analysis a lively tone. His dry, observant wit made me laugh out loud in more than one instance (not something one expects when reading about globalisation).

One of the refreshing aspects of this book is Guest's use of interviews with ex-pats, migrants and entrepreneurs -- this lends a human aspect to an area of public policy that often seems to lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with real people, with real hopes and dreams. If Guest's analysis and insights bring some of that perspective to the debate over immigration and globalisation -- as, indeed, it should -- then we will all be better off.

In short, the book delivers an important message, packaged in a wonderfully well-written mix of on-the-ground reporting, charming and informative anecdote, and macro data and analysis.

My only complaint is perhaps an unfair one: I read this book in galleys and there were a few typos and other errors. I am sure these have since been corrected.
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