The Chinese economy, like religion or philosophy, is so vast a subject that it’s easy to discuss while appearing knowledgeable. The superlatives, hyperboles and huge numbers roll off the tongue in a revel of impenetrable giganticism. But for the layman, good primers on the economy have been oddly lacking, with academic overviews (such as “China’s Economic Transformation”) worthy but onerous, and specific titles, for example on green issues (“When A Billion Chinese Jump” by Jonathan Watts) or housing (Tom Miller’s “China’s Urban Billion”), necessarily partial.

This new book promises to be the set text on the economy for the next decade. Written by Arthur Kroeber, founding partner and head of research at Gavekal Dragonomics (an independent research service covering China’s economy, society and politics), the book displays both deep knowledge and journalistic flair. The book is excellently organized, taking the reader through agriculture (the start of China’s economic boom) through industry, urbanization and the financial system, and then to present and future with chapters on “The Emerging Consumer Society” and “Changing The Growth Model”. Unlike many economic texts, there are few flurries of figures: Kroeber’s eye is as much on the political and administrative realities as the quantitative data points. He also has a strong analysis of the Xi-Li administration’s economic strategy and how it differs from the Hu-Wen years, making this perhaps the first major book to do so. For those seeking an overview of China’s economy and recent history, there can be few better starts.

Published in Business Tianjin

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