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Sunday Book Review: The East Moves West


This is the fifth of an eight part series on the 2011 Patterson Summer Reading List.

  1. Paul Collier, The Plundered Planet
  2. Greg Mortenson, Stones into Schools
  3. Jason Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters
  4. CJ Chivers, The Gun
  5. Geoffrey Kemp, The East Moves West

Geoffrey Kemp’s The East Moves West is not written in a particularly engaging manner, nor does it have much of a core narrative.  Kemp argues that energy economics will force East Asia and West Asia to maintain closer economic ties in the future.  He exhaustively demonstrates that East Asia and Southwest Asia already have substantial economic ties, centered mainly around resource extraction. He details some of the social and geopolitical implications of these ties, including their relevance for the relationships between US East Asian allies (Japan, South Korea) and Middle Eastern states that have difficult relations with the United States.

As a book, The East Moves West has all the charm of a collection of wikipedia entries.  There are a few interesting stories, including the tale of Saudi Arabia’s purchase of useless ballistic missiles from China, and the chapter on Israeli relations with East Asia is pretty good.  Read this book, and you’ll know more about the economics of Asia.  Beyond that, there are no earth-shattering insights or hypotheses, or revelations of particularly interesting data.  East Asia and South Asia are becoming more dependent on Middle Eastern oil, and the Middle East is becoming more dependent on East and South Asian money.


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  • I wouldn’t be surprised if many Asian (and non-Asian) countries are currently considering getting away from the dollar as international currency given the fact America can no longer be trusted to not intentionally blow up the global economy.

  • ajay

    That review does rather raise the question of what the book’s doing on the reading list in the first place.

  • Matt

    Gocart Mozart: While the strategy of many countries may be to get away from the US currency, there are many factors preventing it. One is that movement from the dollar must be gradual to avoid massive investment losses worldwide; a run on the dollar would ruin the world economy with sudden inflation. The second issue is that there still is truly no better alternative. A few nations have tried switching to Euros but have quickly realized how much inherent danger there is in a currency relying on multiple independent fiscal policies.

    As far as the book is concerned, I would have to agree with Dr. Farley’s assessment. Not only was it incredibly boring, it did little to advance the thought process on Chinese/Japanese/Indian energy policy. If anything, it only further reinforced the well-known divisions of the region (China vs. Taiwan, Japan vs. China, India vs. Japan, India vs. Pakistan, etc.) while simultaneously pointing out little differentiation in foreign policy (grow cultural/economic/military ties).

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