Borderless Economics: Chinese Sea Turtles, Indian Fridges and the New Fruits of Global Capitalism

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Today, thanks to the ease of technology and travel, we enjoy unprecedented levels of interconnectedness. Societies are increasingly mobile, and immigrant populations maintain strong ties with their native countries, allowing for an unbroken chain of innovation and knowledge that stretches all the way back home. Robert Guest, Global Business Editor for The Economist, shows how today's tribal networks transcend national borders, and how they are shaping the global community in unforeseen ways, including:

*So-called “Chinese sea turtles,” young Chinese who come to the West for college before returning to China, eagerly absorb democratic ideals along with their technical training. Now, as they assume  leadership positions in Chinese government and business, they will slowly turn China democratic.

*Indian diasporas, having long brought western technology to their home countries, are now bringing Indian technology to the West. They’ve already developed $70 refrigerators and $2,000 cars; their frugal innovations and managerial know-how are about to turn the global economy on its head.

In a world where trade, trust, and information flow through ethnic networks, the nation that values open borders and encourages the growth of its diaspora populations will be the superpower of the twenty-first century. With on-the-ground reporting from dozens of countries, this is a timely look at the forces greater than national boundaries, and how they can be harnessed to move the whole planet forward.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Guest (business editor, Economist) provides an eye-opening examination of current and historic migration as a form of networking among people and one that can have global economic benefits. Such benefits include wealth creation, poverty reduction, knowledge transfer, and innovation. He presents compelling arguments for opening borders, especially if the United States wants to maintain its superpower status; addresses myths, such as job stealing by immigrants and brain drain; and offers insights about why immigrants are often very successful in their newly adopted homelands. Readers will be drawn to this work for Guest's engaging writing and the variety of case studies he presents from his experiences and from countries including China and India. Guest believes the United States, with its diverse diasporas and array of lifestyles, has positioned itself as an appealing place for immigrants from all walks of life and can thus best benefit from immigration's rewards. VERDICT Because this book addresses current immigration controversies and economic uncertainties, it will appeal to a variety of audiences in public and academic libraries. Recommended.—Caroline Geck, Peshine Avenue Preparatory Sch. Lib., Newark, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

A wide-ranging survey of the global impact of the 215 million people who live outside their countries of origin.

Economist global business editor Guest (The Shackled Continent: Power, Corruption, and African Lives,2004) contends that the three percent (and growing) part of the world's population that is migrating is disproportionately contributing to the creation of international wealth, both in the sense of financial assets and the development of new technological and economic capabilities. Of the total number, China contributes about 60 million and India 25 million. In the United States, immigrants make up about eight percent of the total population but formed 25 percent of the engineering and technological startups launched between 1995 and 2005. Guest shows how technological pioneers like Jack Ma, the founder of China's Internet search company Alibaba, and Pramod Bhasin of the Indian health-service provider Genpact, are not only making a lot of money for themselves but transforming their countries and the global economy. The author also highlights the work of Nandan Nilekani, a billionaire software engineer who created a universal ID system for India using biometric identifiers to help organize the government's health and labor programs. Guest is a firm believer in the transformative power of digital technology. Beyond the work of individuals, he also shows that the total volume of remittances sent home by overseas workers grew tenfold between 1990 and 2009; at $316 billion, it now makes up one of the largest sources of global liquidity. Guest locates the U.S. as the center of the activity he profiles, and he emphasizes the mutually beneficial natures of the inflow of immigrants and their interaction with the U.S. economy and culture. The author hopes that the U.S. government will reform its immigration system to maintain the inflow, and he cites one claim that worldwide freedom of movement would produce a $40 trillion gain.

An informative, engaging survey of the beneficial consequences of globalization.

From the Publisher
"If you read only one book on this subject, I recommend Borderless Economics ."—Robert Hahn, Financial Times

"This is a splendid book...In Borderless Economics, journalist Robert Guest has written — with data, anecdotes, and humour — an optimistic account of the state of [migration], adapted to the political, economic and technological possibilities of today."—Nature

“An informative, engaging survey of the beneficial consequences of globalization.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Robert Guest has discovered the quantum mechanics of economic growth and political liberty. It turns out the wave-particle duality of economic matter and political energy is us. We the people of the world— moving where we want and doing what we will — create the universe of progress. Governments of Earth, say goodbye to the Newtonian concepts of nation and state. The apple of Borderless Economics has hit you on the head and knocked you out."— P. J. O'Rourke

“For most, globalization has been about the movement of goods, services, technology and capital. As Robert Guest succinctly explains in this eminently readable book, globalization is actually about people - their migration, the networks they form and the ideas that they transmit through their mobility. In a world grappling with rising protectionist fever, this book is a warning that those nations who want to batten down the hatches and shut the free flow of people and ideas do so at their own risk.”—Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India

“Too much of economic and political analysis is about countries. Robert Guest shows us the myriad ways in which countries are connected by people who move around to learn, to work and to live. These networks are increasingly central both to the nature of opportunity and to public policy issues in the United States. The book is persuasive: America will stay prosperous and strong only so long as we remain the Hub of the World.”—Simon Johnson, co-author, 13 Bankers, and professor at MIT Sloan

“Guest has produced a book that is witty, rigorous, humane, provocative and dazzlingly well-reported. Everyone should read it. Bravo!” —Tim Harford, author of Adapt and The Undercover Economist

“Fantastically entertaining and well-written…[I] couldn’t put it down.” —Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail and Free.

"This is a thoughtful, entertaining and above all inspiring hymn of praise to the cultural, social and economic benefits of freer migration. Its conclusion should be noted by every politician running for office: immigration is an opportunity, not a threat."—Bill Emmott, author of 20:21 Vision and Rivals

“A wonderful antidote to the tired and vague clichés about ‘globalization’. Drawing on a breadth of research and decades of reporting from 70 countries, Robert Guest makes the case for why global migration is (mostly) an extraordinary force for good.”—Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science


“Amusing, intelligent, and full of statistics, Borderless Economics is the perfect starting point for exploring new diasporas and international networks.”—Economics and the Financial Crisis, Global Politics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230113824
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Guest is currently the Global Business Editor at The Economist. Before joining The Economist, he was the Tokyo correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. The winner of numerous awards, Guest is a regular on both the BBC and CNN. He is the author of The Shackled Continent.

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Table of Contents

Diaspora Economics: Why Tribalism Fosters Prosperity

Diaspora Politics: How Sea Turtles Will Turn China Democratic

Networks of Innovation: How Indian Exiles Will Save Medicare

Networks of Trust: How the Brain Drain Reduces Global Poverty

Networks of Hatred: Breeding Jihad and Genocide

The Hub Nation: Why America Will Remain Number One

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