BOOKCASE Look Right & East

A Whole New Mind
By: Daniel Pink
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Price: $35

This book is going to cause me grief. Not because it’s rotten book. It’s not. But from the first moment that I flipped through its pages I knew it was so delicious that I wasn’t going to send it to our top reviewer Ian Grant. It was going to be mine. All mine. So I’m sorry, Ian, you got the book on three billion Asian people and I got this one.
Like several other reviewers, I gulped it down in one sitting although I must confess that, curled up on the sofa on winter’s afternoon, that involved me growling uncharitably at my partner to please keep quiet! For this book is music to the ears of anyone who has spent lifetime sitting, sometimes uncomfortably, on the cusp between linear, logical, left brain thinking and intuitive, holistic right brain stuff.
According to Pink, who also wrote the 2001 book Free Nation Agent, the ability to view the world equally through these two perspectives is key attribute for the future. Why now? Because the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. After decades of dominance by computer programmers cranking code, lawyers crafting contracts and MBAs crunching numbers, the future belongs to very different kind of person with very different kind of mind. Think creators and empathisers, pattern recognisers and meaning makers, as Pink calls them. The right side of the brain is finally gaining parity with its left side equal.
The three main drivers to this switch are what Pink calls the “three As”: world turned upside down by rising affluence (Pink’s abundance), the outsourcing of ‘good jobs’ overseas (to Asia) and the computerisation of our lives (automation). We’re living in world fast shifting from the information age to the conceptual age and the future belongs to those who can bridge these gaps and reforge career along new lines.
That’s all very well for people with degrees in Etruscan art and architecture but what about the rest? Pink dedicates the second half of his book to showing how everyone can tap into their own innate creative abilities. The six core attributes for the future are design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. The book is packed with practical ideas on how to reactivate these senses and well worth second long, slow trawl for additional insights.
Ian, I’ll never be so selfish again. Promise. But you won’t mind if I keep this book little bit longer, will you? RLP



Three Billion New Capitalists: The great shift of wealth and power to the East
By: Clyde Prestowitz
Publisher: Basic Books
Price: $49.95

Depending on one’s perspective and priorities, this is an encouraging or depressing book. For those concerned about the United States’ seemingly unlimited power and penchant for throwing its ideological weight around, it’s reassuring to be told that America’s economic decline is now irreversible. But if one is concerned about the consequences for the western world, and certainly for New Zealand, should the American century turn to very runny custard, then the book is scary reading.
Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington DC, argues that American policymakers seem oblivious to the looming crisis; they are not making the connections, and joining the dots that the author does in this absorbing, thought-provoking and very readable book.
Prestowitz argues that the United States is in serious trouble for number of connected reasons. The US trade (current account) deficit was about $650 billion in 2004, financed by huge overseas borrowing, and mortgaging large US assets to foreign lenders. Their coffers awash with dollars, the world’s central banks are beginning to question America’s ability to fulfil its international financial obligations. There is now, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, an alternative to the dollar as the world’s money and already many countries are upping their euro reserve ratios at the expense of the US currency.
Even if the US dollar devalues dramatically, America may not have the capacity to raise its exports sufficiently to balance the trade accounts. Manufacturing, the biggest part of US trade, accounts for just 12.7 percent of American GDP – less than health care – and more and more important industries are relocating factories overseas.
In addition to the largely ignored fragility of the US economy, Prestowitz argues, three billion new capitalists have joined the world’s economy since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and their impact is only just beginning to be felt.
“Services, research and development …. in which the West now leads the world, could all follow manufacturing to Asia,” he writes. “Whether slowly or quickly, the forces now bringing wealth and power to the East will also bring crisis and painful adjustment to the West.”
Three Billion New Capitalists analyses the crisis in detail and ponders how the inevitable adjustments can be managed to minimise the pain. IFG

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