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ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age|
by Andre Gunder Frank
A fundamental book for the 21st century, December 3, 2000. Gunder Frank have really helped to open up the eyes of people, who have long gotten used to reading books and literary works written with Eurocentric bias. Gunder Frank provides ample proof in his arguments and successfully disproves long held Eurocentric ideas about the origins of the modern economics, commerce, and industry.
Frank's book makes two big arguments:
(1) The first demolishes one of the pillars of Eurocentric history: the false belief that Europe was more advanced or more rapidly advancing that Asia in early modern times. What it shows is that the global economy was centered around China until 1800 AD, that the main economic players of those 2 millennia were China, India and Japan assisted by Russia, Persia and the Ottoman Empire.
He conclusively proves that Europe's success was nothing unique, and that Europe was the lesser of the many players in world economics, technology, and industry until about 1800 AD. China, India, Central Asia, South-East Asia, and the Middle East were those main players of the global trade, spanning from 1500 BC to 1800 AD. These above five regions also had the world's highest standards of living, most advanced technology, greatest industrial and commercial enterprises, best art forms, literature, philosophy, and musical styles, and also the most sophisticated government and best infrastructure in roads, bridges, canals, river and seaborne transportation from 5000 BC to 1800 AD.
(2) The second argument is a theory aiming to explain why Europe began to outpace Asia in economic development around 1750 and, more concretely, to explain why the industrial revolution took place in Europe and not in Asia.
Special note must be made of the role that Native American gold and silver played in helping Europe to become a player in the global trade, by giving Europe with the purchasing power to purchase Chinese silks, tea, porcelain, Indian cotton textiles, and South-East spices and gems and other goods. The West was only minor and it is only because they achieved the conquest of the Americas and the exploitation of its silver deposits that they obtained a ticket in the global economy and gradually rose to prominence.
Britain was global hegemon from 1800 until 1914, displaced by the United States from then until present.
Europe played a significant role in moving the science, technology, industry, trade, and commerce of the world forward and to greater new heights, just as the other six regions of the world have done in the past.
Some forecasts predict that Chinese economy could outpace the US between 2013 and 2049.
His detailed and argumented study is confirmed by current reality. 4 of the 5 largest foreign currency deposits are already in East Asia: Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong. While US current account balance is at -$393 billion and EU current account balance is at -$14 billion, Japan current account balance is at $128 billion, Russia is at $30 billion and China is at $17 billion. Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia are all in positive waters. Most strategic technological monopolies are in Japan (Blindside from Eanmon Fingleton, 1995). 9 of the 10 largest harbours in the World are East Asian, leaving Rotterdam as the single exception. 70% of the World software production is in India. Most of the largest national GDP annual growth are in East, South-East and South Asia, making US robust growth of the last decade look pale and Europe's 2-3% definitly meaky.
The book is fundamental because it explains the basics of this Asian economic advantage, how post-1800 Westerners could delude themselves while their ancestors (Adam Smith being the most famous) dedicated pages of study to record and analyse why Asia was so superior to the West in almost everything and why the West has risen and is maybe falling beyond again (Only a blind could not notice that 1/3 of all US supermarket shelves are filled with Made in China or that the content of high-tech products is mostly Made in Japan, Taiwan or Korea and that Pokemon, Nintedno and Playstation are kids favorite).