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How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly - And the Stark Choices Ahead
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How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly - And the Stark Choices Ahead

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  252 ratings  ·  57 reviews
This book charts how over the last 50 years the most advanced and advantaged countries of the world have squandered their dominant position through a sustained catalogue of fundamentally flawed economic policies.
Paperback, 226 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Penguin Books (first published August 17th 2010)
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Nigel
Reading this book was a little like having a dinner party and listening to a know-it-all who can tell you a million reasons why the world is going to shit in a hand basket and, worse, a million different remedies. Many of those remedies are so drastic that a few of the guests choke on their steak when they are mentioned. Others sound so outlandish (America defaulting on its debt to "press reset") that a hitherto quiet and unnoticed English gentleman in the corner says, "this has all gotten a bit ...more
Cathy
My old economics professor's favorite phrase: "There is no free lunch." It has been quite a while since I have read a book on economics, so I was particularly drawn to this one. It would be interesting to see an update as it has been a few years since its research and publication. I probably liked the book, because the author shares my own view, that one of the reasons BRIC(Brazil, Russia, India and China) is able to accomplish many economic feats is because their capitalistic activities are oft ...more
Jeremy
A must read for any socially aware citizen...
Moyo presents a clear picture of how the west, USA specifically, lost their economic superiority to the emerging "rest" through systematically implementing myopic economic policies over the last three decades.
From the tech boom in Asia of the early 80's to the 21st century housing bubble bursting in the 2008 economic crash, Moyo gives a succinct, if bleak, account of American missteps that virtually handed the reigns freely to the developing world.
Alt
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Alex
This book started strong. Moyo's description of the West's mis-allocation of labor and capital were awesome and eye-opening.

But at times the book seemed to descend into doomsday predictions (hence, the title), calls for a stronger centralized state, and lists upon lists of stats that I could pull off the Internet myself. That said, her concerns about America's economic position were intimidating and not without basis.

My largest concern with the book's thesis is that it seems to assume a world
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Stefanie
Great explanations about the financial crisis and the US-construction policies. Explains how allocation of capital is either beneficial on the long-term or not. In addtion, it explains the general differences between the econo-political systems in China, USA, Russia, Europe and the rest of the world. A bit black-white with China and the general evaluations of the future.
Alesa
I really love books that shake up your entire world view -- or rather, cause you to questions the way everybody around you seems to perceive things. And this book certainly did that, in much the same way that Martin Jacques did in "When China Rules the World".

The first half of this book kind of does basic economics, explaining things like why the crash of 2008 occurred. This is not exactly new territory. But then, she moves on to discuss the overall failure of US economic policy, and the lack of
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Sophie
An interesting book. As others have pointed out, the title is misleading as it not about the 'west' but primarily about the USA and to a lesser extent, the UK and their relationship to China and, occasionally India, Brazil and Russia.
This left me wondering how other more social democratic countries were faring.
However, my main question - given that the whole premise of the book is that if we don't look out and change everything about our economy and a lot about our society, China will takeover
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Marcus
This is an important book, but not a good book. Dr. Moyo answers the questions that is on everyone's lips in America these days, is something wrong with our economy? If so what?

Dr. Moyo states that the United States has misallocated: capital, labor and intellectual property over the past 50 years. The country and it's people have made poor choices with regard to these area.

Capital - Dr. Moyo lays blame on the equity culture in America, specifically the high amounts of leverage used by equity hol
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Linda
The Table of Contents and the bold headings tell the main information. China reflects the U.S.A. a decade ago. China needs to learn from our mistakes--debt vs. equity/savings, over consumption vs. conservation, quantity vs. quality. U.S. GAVE economic, military, political supremacy away. Economy = capital, labor and technology/knowledge. Cash is king, labor cheap, knowledge stolen, high salaries for the lucky few (sports/entertainment/CEO's--with little return on investment. Need to invest in ed ...more
Jill
I'm rather conflicted on this book. I want to like it but I just don't.

I have a couple of problems with the book generally. First, although her discussion of how and why over-investment in real estate (specifically homes) has created a treadmill of ever-rising prices that regularly creates disastrous bubbles in the economy is very clear and persuasive, it still bothers me to hear her speak of homes, pensions, and healthcare as terrible ideas. She does acknowledge that a welfare state can be well
...more
Jonathan Lu
Opening quote is a great one: "A senior business executive tells the story of a conference where the head of an established and leading Western telephone company boasted about all the things the company could do, and innovations it had in the pipeline. He went on for quite a long time, as he demonstrated the company's range, depth, and brilliance. His speech was met with enthusiastic applause. Then came the turn of the head of a similar Chinese company; undaunted, pointing to the western executi ...more
Ian
This is a very scary book about the future that faces the West if we don't get our act together. Is it alarmist or accurate? It does seem to be backed up by a lot of data. One of the scenarios that it points towards is the USA defaulting on its national debt and truning to protectionism to protect and rebuild its economy, with the flow on effects of the collapse of the US dollar and decimation of China's ecomonic growth (given it is the largest holder of US debt and also dependant on debt-financ ...more
Kwame
I am not a tough grader of books because producing a sensible piece of work is very very difficult but found that the author here could have done better with her categories. The title of the book is so far removed from its content because it concentrates on some of the real economic policies blunders of successive US administrations but to add examples from Uk once in a while does not constitute what is known as "The West". I have no doubt about the author's credentials at all but would be cauti ...more
Graham Mulligan
How the West Was Lost, Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices Ahead; Dambisa Moyo

“once an idea is out it can be used and improved upon by anyone, anywhere, an idea has a marginal cost of zero”

This quote is referring to the spinoffs from the magnificent technology that enabled the Apollo moon landing in July 1969. I was a vagabond watching it on a storefront TV in Athens, Greece, along with a small crowd who didn’t own their own sets, or had to be in downtown Athens on that day, aw
...more
Erez Davidi
In this book, Dr. Moyo analyzes the reasons of why the West is losing the lead to the rest of the world (mostly Asia, but also Russia and South America).

Instead of providing a broad review of this book, the focus will be on the first few chapters which concern the housing market in the U.S. The author starts by providing a short background of the housing crisis. Basically, the author repeats the same old (and true) claim that was written in every other newspaper in the world: "However, US policy
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Clivemichael Justice
Well presented prescient, dense and detailed analysis of our current, albeit progressing, situation. She energetically paints a dismal picture. Although her figures and explanations are well defined, my lack of economic understanding had me somewhat overwhelmed by the excess. I get the concept, but cannot embrace the process which had some win and many lose. Without directly saying so she appears to endorse GMO along with nuclear power, the energy panacea, conveniently ignoring the ongoing issue ...more
Ross
The author, an economist educated at Oxford, details in facts and figures the past events, bad government policies, and trends that spell the bankruptcy of the West and the "rise of the rest." The fundamental cause is the introduction of the welfare state to Europe and America. She makes the point that the northern European states are functioning as better managed than the badly managed welfare states of the U.S. and southern Europe.
The U.S. and the southern European states are in fact bankrupt
...more
Luís Gouveia
Li a versão portuguesa deste livro - A decadência do Ocidente, pela Bertrand

O livro é um excelente relato, simples e muito bom para introduzir a não economistas e não financeiros, os riscos e efeitos do recurso ao crédito.

A primeira parte do livro relata os últimos 50 anos do Ocidente e as suas opções económicas e geopolíticas que, na perspectiva da autora, contribuíram para a situação de decadência económica a médio prazo e para a transferência dos centros de poder para outras paragens (os BRIC
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Seamus Enright
I'm not quite sure what to make of this. While she's clearly well-informed on the issues, she spends way too much time discussing the Housing Bubble in the US and not nearly enough on the WTO which basically handed the keys of the World Economy to China.

She seems to believe in Free Trade which is basically what has caused the coming Chinese hegemony that in turn alarms her so much.

She doesn't emphasise enough how America's decline has been caused by excessive military spending and apportions to
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James Hatton
Economist Dambisa Moyo presents her views on the state of American society with respect to the readiness and viability of its people to compete in the Twenty-First Century economy. I think many of her points are worth considering, even worth addressing. However, I don't see America's future as being as imminently bleak as this author forecasts. Still, this book is a worthwhile read.
Jason
I appreciated the main point of Moyo's argument, but as the book went on it felt that she repeated her arguments quite a bit. HTWWL was an easy read, yet provided enough detailed statistical data to explain some complex economic theories.

What confused me was that Moyo railed against the way the US (and to some extent the UK) government had so misused its labor, capital, etc. and then turned around and suggested that more government control was necessary to fix what was broken.

All in all, I tho
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David Cooper
Interesting read about the West and the inevitable rise and eventual superseding of our economic well being by the East. Unless huge changes are made. And that isn't about to happen. Let's keep sending jobs overseas and keep shopping at WalMart.
Kerry
I really enjoyed this book but mainly because it backed up my own opinions of the disastrous economic direction we have going in the West for much of my life. I enjoyed the economic statistics that were supplied and was most impressed by her conclusions as to the choices left to us to avoid bankruptcy (or embrace it as the case may be). On the con side I thought she got onto very shaky ground when she ventured outside of the economic narrative. Citing Wikipedia as one of her historical sources w ...more
Nyawira Muraguri
Very enlightening book.

Having had more experience with emerging market and developing economies; I sought to understand what ailed developed economies despite their previous dominance.Dambiso discusses various economic themes and provides insighful examples which make it less of a text book experience.

It was easy to relate the challenges adressed in the book to the current state of the global economy and it gave that "it makes sense" feeling to the reader.

However, I think the recommendations ma
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Rowland
I thought it was a very good read, highlighting the causes of the financial crisis in the US and why if it continues with it's current policies, it is in line to loose it's crown as the global economic power.

However, professional economists are not that good at predicting future outcomes. Alot of the predictions are based on alot of "ifs", if the US continues its trend on becoming a welfare state, if the US continues with its current foreign policies, if China and the rest continue on allowing t
...more
Wayne
I often struggle when reading heady articles in "The Economist" magazine that deal with CDO's, leverage, credit default swaps, etc. The author attemps to explain these and other concepts in language that a layman can comprehend. The book also offers an explanation of why the current capitalist system in the US, Great Britain, and other developed nations may be heading for disaster.
Some of the solutions offered are "over the top", but may yet be required to avert disaster.
Hrishikesh
Excellent explanation of the current US economic quagmire, helped along by a very helpful book layout. However, author is deeply committed to American neo-conservatism; opinions are to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Also, surprising is the fact that, for someone who believes so resolutely in the virtues of the open market, the author (inadvertently) vindicates Keynesian policies.

But enjoyable and informative read overall.
Jessica
This book was very interesting and offered a very swift economic history of the West versus the Rest. While I found the information useful, many of her conclusions in the end were very fatalistic and quite unreasonable. It seems that with each new book she is trying to stir up more controversy. I am not sure if I believe what she is selling, in terms of her solutions to the West's economic problems.
Norma
Moyo is a controversial economist who offers a different view of how the Western economy works and its problems. She questions some sacred cows of our thinking regarding home ownership, pension funds and the use of resources of all kinds. It's a "make you think" kind of book. Definitely worth a read even if it makes you mad or makes you question what the future holds if the status quo is maintained.
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2817361

Dr. Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who writes on the macroeconomy and global affairs.

She is the author of the New York Times Bestsellers "Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa", "How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly And the Stark Choices Ahead" and "Winner Take All: China s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World".

Ms. Moyo

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More about Dambisa Moyo...
Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World

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“Ask most people who live in a home and have a mortgage on it whether they own their own home and the answer is almost guaranteed to be a resounding 'yes'. Yet it's the wrong answer. Technically speaking, until they have paid the mortgage off, they don't own it. Herein lies the difference between reality and illusion, between ownership and control. This confusion lies not only at the individual level, but also at the heart of government thinking.” 6 likes
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