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How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly - And the Stark Choices Ahead Paperback – 13 Jan 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (13 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846142350
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846142352
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 492,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who writes 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", "How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly - And the Stark Choices Ahead" and "Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World".

Ms. Moyo was named by Time Magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World", and was named to the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders Forum. Her work regularly appears in economic and finance-related publications such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

She completed a doctorate in Economics at Oxford University and holds a Masters degree from Harvard University. She completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and an MBA in Finance at the American University in Washington D.C..

Product Description


Moyo's diagnosis of the recent disasters in financial markets is succinct and sophisticated...I applaud her brave alarum against our economic and social complacency: her core concerns are sufficiently close to painful truths to warrant our attention. (Paul Collier The Observer)

We [in the West] have alienated trading partners and are colluding in the decline of our own prosperity, says Moyo, who sets out strategies for weighting the political seesaw back to our advantage. (Iain Finlayson The Times)

This argument...can rarely have been made more concisely...Moyo is a very serious lady indeed. (Dominic Lawson The Times)

The sad saga of the recession gives legs to Dambisa Moyo's provocatively-entitled book, for it goes to the heart of the great economic issue of our times: how swiftly will power shift over this century? (Hamish McRae The Independent)

About the Author

Dambisa Moyo is a Global Economist at an Investment Bank in London. She previously worked at the World Bank in Washington DC. A native of Zambia, Southern Africa, Dambisa holds a Doctorate in Economics from Oxford University and a Masters from Harvard University. Dambisa has spoken on issues of Aid, Debt and Poverty in developing countries at conferences including at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in 2005. Dambisa lives in London. Dead Aid is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. D. Welsh TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating book: short enough to read in half a day or so, full of refreshingly unconventional views, but clearly aiming for balance. In spite of the provocative, "Buy Me!" title (presumably based on the famous Western movie "How the West was won"), the author does not adopt anything that could be called an "anti-American" attitude. Her thesis is that the West - the USA, UK, Western Europe, etc. - has been steadily losing ground economically to "the Rest" - led by China, and also including China, Russia, Brazil, India, and many other nations. Dr Moyo then takes a deeper dive, divided into the three critical factors of Capital, Labour, and Total Factor Productivity (TFP). In each of those, she claims, the West has been falling behind for well-defined reasons.

Starting with capital, Dr Moyo asserts that the West has seriously mismanaged its capital in several ways. One of the main reasons for this - an idea that crops up again later in the book - is that Western nations lack the political ability to make rapid decisions for the good of the nation as a whole. They are hamstrung by participative democracy and frequent elections. In a passage that, for me, is the most important in the whole book, Dr Moyo explains why "debt is cheaper than equity". All corporations are funded by equity and debt; but those who own the equity are much less risk-averse than those who own the debt. Thus the creditors should exert a restraining influence, forcing management to avoid excessive risk. When government underwrites banks and other enterprises, it removes this restraining influence - leading directly to catastrophes like the financial crisis of 2008.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By os TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
This book promises a lot but sadly delivers little. As an analysis of the sub-prime melt-down and the general structural economic decline of the 'West' and the USA in particular, it has it's merits.Yet the premise is a faulty one.Her view roughly summarized, is that the barbarians are at the gates, so we had better look out.

The USA after the setting up of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1944 became ascendant in the World Economy.The dollar replaced the £ as the currency of international choice,the US military had few if any direct competitors and the British bankrupt, whilst the Europeans needed American cash to rebuild.Meanwhile, American trade policies were implemented by Western instruments such as the IMF and GATT and American multinationals gained new markets in territories opened up to them after the war us military presence overseas. The immediate post -war period was the time of unrivaled American economic dominance until costly ventures like the Vietnam war and consequent American leaving of the 'Gold Standard' in 1971, coupled with the oil price shocks of 1973, indicated that a fundamental shift in America's global position was not not only possible but likely.(Most of this goes unmentioned by Ms Moyo)

History tells us that empires can't last for ever.Empires are created it could be said, by strength of arms, leadership and some sort of economic system that supports civil society and pays for the imposition of order at home and abroad. When the system can't support the military or vice-versa,the end is never far away. Either complacency, a penchant for luxury,some sort of external shock or the arrival of a foreign competitor spells the disillusion of the current hierarchy to be replaced by another.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas B. Kilcourse on 16 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
How The West Was Lost
Dambisa Moyo

I recall reading somewhere that after the end of WWII the Japanese were advised by Americans to focus on rebuilding their economy by producing rice and other food products so that they would be able to afford to buy American cars. The Japanese rejected the advice, set up MITI and today most cars produced in America and the UK are Japanese. Judging by the message in this book the West learned nothing from that lesson.

Dambisa Moyo demonstrates that the lesson is being repeated, but this time by Chinese teachers. The lesson is that the western model of capitalism is being displaced by state driven capitalism. While the West clings to an economic model based on the fallacy of Ricardian comparative advantage, and profit maximisation with the market as the guide, state capitalism operates on principles of absolute advantage and volume maximisation under state guidance. Consequently, whereas China has clear long-term economic strategies the West follows the vagaries of short-term market indicators.

The author makes her case effectively using statistical illustrations to compare America and China, with America presented as an exporter of capital, living on credit supported consumerism and neglecting its crumbling infrastructure. China, on the other hand, is an exporter of consumer goods with low levels of consumption and credit at home, and is investing enormous amounts in infrastructure. Moyo mentions in passing that the UK operates on the American model.

`How The West Was Lost' is one of several recent books presenting a similar warning message to which western politicians appear deaf. Although Ms.
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