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Book Review: The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith

Genre: Business, Economics, Politics
ISBN: 0393062368
Pub. Date: August 2007
Format: Hardcover, 384pp
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

India (back office to the world) and China (factory to the world) have become major players in the world economy seemingly overnight. So what should the Unites States (buyer to the world) do about it? Robyn Meredith, foreign correspondent for Forbes, has detailed the history and effects of India and China�s rise in The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What it Means for All of Us and what the US should do about it.

In nine chapters, Meredith writes the economic history of China and India in a clear, easily read fashion. Drawing on her journalistic background, the book is filled with quotes, facts, and stories that exemplify the drastic changes within these two countries, and the effects those changes have had on the United States.

Throughout the book, Meredith compares the drastic differences between these two countries. Although both were protectionist states until recently, India was democratic whereas China was communist. India�s rise results from its ability to offer white collar jobs at cheap prices, whereas China is the king of factory production. India�s poor remain largely unaffected by the economic changes, whereas even the most rural farmer in China is seeing a small improvement in his lifestyle. India�s infrastructure has failed to improve, whereas China�s has blossomed, especially in preparation for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

The first seven chapters detail the meteoric rise of the tow countries in the economic playing field, both how it occurred politically and what the countries did right and wrong economically to move forward. The final two chapters deal particularly with the effect the rapid growth of the countries will have on the United States, and what Americans need to do to stay competitive in the global marketplace that now has two powerhouses poised to challenge America�s hegemony.

Meredith ultimately determines that America need to be wary of the change in geopolitics that will occur with China and India�s need for fuel and resources. Prices will rise, affecting both our economy and theirs. Meredith cautions that if the US does not take this into account, we may find ourselves in an economic battle of resources.

In the final chapter �A Catalyst for Competitiveness� Meredith cautions us against becoming either protectionist or allowing free trade free reign. She believes that the US should embrace the growth of China and India as a good thing for Americans as prices of goods decrease (especially with our recent housing market burst) and become more easily available. However, Meredith also says that in order to stay competitive we will need to improve education, build newer infrastructure, and create stronger economic foundations both at the company and government level. Although she bemoans the loss of jobs due to offshoring, she sets forth a logical and concise reasoning for the greater wealth and different jobs that are created by such offshoring. She claims that the four pillars mentioned before, if completed, will provide work for those whose jobs are removed to India and China. She ultimately concludes that “if inward-facing India and communist China can transform themselves, so can the United States of America.”

Ultimately, Meredith provides as fair and balanced account of India and China�s entry onto the economic stage. Not pandering or partisan, the book fairly assesses the effect this has on the US economy and what we can do in order to stay ahead of the game. This is an excellent book both for as a primer in world economics, and for those interested in understanding the changes occurring to the US as a result of offshoring jobs. Highly readable, with clear and logical reasoning, anyone interested in learning more about the economic world we live in, and how it came to be will find The Elephant and the Dragon a worthwhile read.

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