With the British Industrial Revolution, part of the world’s population started to experience extraordinary economic growth—leading to enormous gaps in wealth and living standards between the industrialized West and the rest of the world. This pattern of divergence reversed after World War II, and now we are midway through a century of high and accelerating growth in the developing world and a new convergence with the advanced countries—a trend that is set to reshape the world.Michael Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, explains what happened to cause this dramatic shift in the prospects of the five billion people who live in developing countries. The growth rates are extraordinary, and continuing them presents unprecedented challenges in governance, international coordination, and ecological sustainability. The implications for those living in the advanced countries are great but little understood. Spence clearly and boldly describes what’s at stake for all of us as he looks ahead to how the global economy will develop over the next fifty years. The Next Convergence is certain to spark a heated debate how best to move forward in the post-crisis period and reset the balance between national and international economic interests, and short-term fixes and long-term sustainability.
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As the global economy emerged in the post war period, the colonial system disappeared. Old colonies became new countries, some of them with very odd shapes and geographical positions. With no history of self-governance as nation states, they struggled to find their way, economically and in terms of stable governance. India created the world’s largest and most complex democracy—a modern miracle. China turned to communism, adopted the centrally planned model of economic organization, and made very little measurable economic progress for 29 years, but perhaps sowed the seeds of its
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“Contrary to his book’s title, Nobel Prize–winning economist Spence does less prognosticating than one might expect. Indeed, early on he shares a chart showing just how inaccurately economists predicted growth during the 1990s. Instead, he offers a comprehensive summary of the forces at play in today’s global economy: removal of trade barriers, the lightning-fast transfer of knowledge from developed to emerging economies, global demand, resources, the role of national and international governments, and the management (or not) of currency rates, among others. Spence’s style is pretty flat (Where’s John Kenneth Galbraith when we need him?), and he seems to underestimate the looming role of climate change in any economic scenario. Yet his status report could give attentive readers a more empowered role in their own economic future.”—Alan Moores, Booklist
“The emergence of China is just part of an amazing catching up process going in the world. We all feel this profound change, but few of us have the ability to step back, put it in perspective, analyze the past and guess where the future is taking us. Mike Spence has it, and he delivers. This is serious thinking, on essential issues. I learned a lot from the book, both in the small and in the large; I am sure other readers will as well.” —Olivier Blanchard, IMF Chief Economist and Class of 1942 Professor Economics, MIT
“Among economists, common sense is not that common. Fortunately, Michael Spence has long bucked the trend. In this book he dispenses wisdom on economic growth – and much else – in accessible, bite-sized chunks. The world’s policy makers better listen.” — Dani Rodrik, Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
“I always knew that Mike Spence was a terrific economist. After reading this book I realize that he also has the rare ability to see the world economy—all of it, rich and poor—with clarity, reason and empathy. If you are looking for a lucid, readable, consistent, unprejudiced picture of what has been happening and what might happen next in the world economy, this is an excellent place to find it.” —Robert Solow, winner of the 1987 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
Michael Spence is a Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and was the chairman of the independent Commission on Growth and Development. Winner of the Nobel 2001 Prize in Economic Sciences, he lives in California and Italy.