“Informative and accessible, penetrating and provocative, his book is a first-rate guide to global trends... Readers of Outrageous Fortunes are likely to conclude that they have learned some important things about a global economy that will have an ever-more profound impact on their lives.” NPR.org
“Bold... Interesting.” The Economist
“Amid all the handwringing on the downward trajectory of the global economy comes this cool, collected, and sensible view of forthcoming economic trends... Altman delivers more than mere analysis or foreshadowing: this is revelatory reading for even the most casual observer of economics, and an invaluable tool for reconsidering how the world makes money.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Interesting thought experiments.” Kirkus Reviews
“If the past two years have taught us anything, it is the importance of counterintuitive thinking. Daniel Altman boldly ventures into the deep drivers of global change to uncover the unintended consequences of our current policies-regarding China, global trade, American jobs, and much more. Anyone who wants to get smart on globalization's fate must read this book.” Parag Khanna, author of The Second World and How to Run the World
“With so many new books offering autopsies of the financial crisis and the deepest recession since World War II, it's a blessing that Daniel Altman has his eyes firmly fixed on risks and opportunities in the road ahead. He brings together a series of compelling predictions, and though readers may not agree with every element of his forecasts, all will be better informed for having read his book.” Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and author of The End of the Free Market and The J Curve
“With all the attention being lavished on the short-run gyrations of the economy, it is refreshing to see a book that focuses on the long run. Daniel Altman is brave enough to make predictions about what will happen to the world economy twenty or thirty years from now. His analysis is thoughtful and compelling and should be required reading for those interested in creating a better world for our offspring.” Hal R. Varian, chief economist at Google and professor of business, economics, and information management at the University of California, Berkeley
“Daniel Altman has something to tell you: the world may not turn out the way Thomas Friedman expects. Outrageous Fortunes is provocative, fast-moving, authoritative, and imaginative. Expect the unexpected.” Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life
Economic prophesying by a consultant who makes no claim to being "the economic Nostradamus."
Altman opens by examining the business of economic forecasting, an art and science that could use a few Nostradamuses, but that is hampered by uncertainty—not least the experimental bias by which "predictions themselves may affect the future." This, writes the author, is often the whole point of forecasting, warning of looming dangers and disasters that might sink an economy. He takes a longer view, however, and whether it can keep the ship from sinking we will not know for decades. One potential source of comfort for America-firsters is the roundabout view that China may well become an ever more important economic power, particularly if its government loosens controls on the economy to encourage foreign investment. However, "China is likely to fall short, both in its business practices and in the role of its government," in the realm of technological innovation and implementation, which may be a more important determinant of economic strength. Such a forecast is debatable, of course, notably given the demographic pressures that are upon the West, with declining populations and lumbering social-welfare networks that will encourage workers to seek greener pastures (in Europe, writes Altman, in countries that are "endowed with essentially Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian legal traditions"). The author ventures into such politically thorny areas as illegal immigration ("frequently an economic necessity") and the current backlash against capitalism in many developing areas (which probably will not last). Meanwhile, he predicts, rich countries will become cleaner and richer and poor countries dirtier and poorer—reason enough to want to live in rich countries.
Interesting thought experiments that would have been made more interesting with a more vigorous use of actual dollars and cents (and yuan and euros). As to whether Altman is right, check back in half a century.