Consumptionomics: Asia's Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet
“Two virtually certain major trends will create a massive global collision. First, Asian living standards will rise spectacularly. This is good. Second, Asians will replicate Western consuming patterns. This is bad. How do we gain the good and avoid the bad? This will be one of the biggest questions of the twenty-first century. Chandran Nair’s book could not be timelier. We need to seriously address the major questions that he raises and heed his valuable advice.” – Kishore Mahbubani, former Singapore Ambassador to UN and author of Can Asians Think? And The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East
“Reconciling the needs of billions of new consumers with the requirements of a planet that is already showing the strains of ecological carelessness, overexploitation and unsustainable pollution, is one of the urgent challenges facing humanity. Consumptionomics shows what it will take to rise to this challenge and what the consequences of failing to do so would be, while also offering ideas about what to do. A fascinating read about an indispensable debate.” – Moisés Naím, former editor of Foreign Policy magazine and author of Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy
“Terrifying, but terrific! Consumptionomics is an outstanding analysis of what the rise of Asia means for our world. Chandran makes an incredibly compelling argument about why business (i.e. consumption) as usual just won’t do. Rather than acting as an impediment to growth for the region, addressing this issue head-on becomes an opportunity to innovate and shift towards a low-carbon economy, growing even more, faster and better.” – José-Maria Figueres, former president of Costa Rica, and former MD of the World Economic Forum
1. Asia arrives – and wants it all.
2. Clutching at straws.
3. Rethinking the future in Asia.
4. The Asian state.
5. Rewriting the rules.
6. Asia and the world.
Conclusion: Reshaping capitalism.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, the new book, “Consumptionomics: Asia’s role in reshaping capitalism and saving the planet,” (ISBN: 978-0-470-82857-1) tackles head-on what is certain to prove the most controversial political challenge of the next two decades: the need for Asia to challenge the conventional wisdom about markets and economic growth as promoted by the West – for which consumption has been the fuel that drives the engine of global capitalism, much to the detriment of our natural environment.
The recent financial crisis has seen the West’s leading economists and policy makers urging Asia to make a conscious effort to consume more and thereby help save the global economy. This view conveniently refuses to acknowledge both the unpleasant effects of consumption and the limits to growth. If Asians were to achieve consumption levels taken for granted in the West the results would be environmentally catastrophic across the globe. Moreover, it would have significant geopolitical impacts as nations scramble for diminishing resources.
Asian governments and leaders now find themselves at a crossroads. They may either continue on the current, unsustainable path of Western-style consumption-led capitalism, disregarding the evidence, or they may realize that they hold the unenviable responsibility of leading the world to a more sustainable path. The solutions will entail making sensitive political choices and adopting certain forms of government to effect such a fundamental change of direction. This will all fly in the face of current ideological beliefs rooted in free market capitalism. But if Asia is willing to take on this responsibility, it will help to save the planet whilst reshaping capitalism.
“As latecomers to the model of development that puts a premium on wealth creation at any price, Asian countries will never be able to attain the ways of life taken for granted by most in the West,” said author Chandran Nair. “We must accept this to move beyond denial and look for alternatives – ones that by definition are better because they may have a chance of working.”
This timely and controversial book shows what it will take to rise to this challenge and what the consequences of failing to do so would be, while offering ideas about what to do. A must-read on an indispensable debate for business leaders as is for policy makers.