Sunday 2013-09-22

How Asia Works by Joe Studwell

Studwell reviews the development of Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines for commonalities of what worked, from an economic development perspective. He likes land redistribution, export manufacturing, and repressive financial controls.

In short, he likes economic games that most people can play where most of the game's rewards are kept by most of the players. How is it then, that financial repression is a good game? Studwell believes the state must be complicit in good games and must direct the banking system's cash flows towards other good games. Undoubtedly, this will help keep Studwell in good standing for certain circles' speaking tours.

To escape the scope of the book, what makes a good national game?
one, winnings accrue to the most players possible,
two, players include players not yet born,
three, players who master one game can easily fund their children's forays into other games, and
four, winning is determined by price / quantity / quality.

Farming land makes for a good game, likewise, so does internet farming of skills since they're directly exportable. It seems odd then, that there hasn't been the internet equivalent of a gov't sponsored port, e.g. there's no gov't regulated elance or other such part-work site.

Land was the biggest political issue in east Asia after the Second World War and promises of land reform were fundamental to the communist victories in China, North Korea, and Vietnam. However, in these socialist states, family farming was later substitued, for ideological reasons, by collectivisation, which caued yields to stagnate or fall. In Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, household-bssed land redistribution programmes were implemented peacefully, and sustained. It was this that led to prolonged rural booms that catalysed overall economic transformation.
-- Introduction
Any nation which by means of protective duties and restrictions on navigation has raised her manufacturing power and her navigation to such a degree of development that no other nation can sustain free competition with her can do nothing wiser than to throw away these ladders of her greatness, to preach to other nations the benefits of free trade, and to declare in penitent tones that she has hitherto wandered in the paths of error, and has now for the first time succeeded in discovering the truth.
-- Friedrich List, Manufacturing
Captive banks ask fewer questions than independent ones and, when regulation is weak, can lend their owners a great deal of money compared with the investment needed to start or buy a bank.
-- Finance
Wheat yields (in China) are similarly among the highest in the world, and more than 50 per cent ahead of what is achieved by scale farming in the United States.
-- Where China Fits In