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China: The Bubble that Never Pops Hardcover – 24 September 2020

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Bears have written off the chances of continued Chinese success, again and again. They have always proved wrong. In his detailed account, Tom Orlik demonstrates that a massive accumulation of debt and declining returns on investment threaten China's economy yet again. But, as he explains, not only are policymakers aware of the risks, but China has great strengths: a competent state; a huge domestic market and continued potential for rapid catch-up growth. Will the bears be right at last? Probably not. ― Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator, Financial Times

Thomas Orlik provides a valuable historic overview of the crisis and response of the Chinese economy using vivid examples from every corner of China. What sets China apart from other major economies is the government's power to tell banks and firms what to do, although a state-dominated economy might not work forever. ― Zhumin Xu, Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés (LATTS), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and Ecole des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC), Marne-la-Vallée, France, Eurasian Geography and Economics

Orlick thoroughly depicts a self-sufficient China with the ability to circumvent hurdles that have waylaid other countries in a similar position, producing an informative account of its economic history in the process. ― Julia Kang, International Law and Politics

I laughed. I cried. I re-balanced my portfolio. ― Dave Rank, former Charge' d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy, Beijng

Orlik is one of the most astute and entertaining observers of the Chinese economy. His fluid writing style makes the work accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike. This is a book that anyone interested in China's future and its consequences for the global community should read. ― Tony Saich, Daewoo Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

This excellent book unpacks the many mysteries of the Chinese economy in a compelling and cogent manner. Orlik has brought together his journalistic and analytical skills to produce a lively and informative account of how China has sustained its phenomenal growth performance while apparently flouting conventional economic precepts. A must-read for anyone who wonders if China's economy is doomed to collapse, why it hasn't already, and why it might never do so. ― Eswar Prasad, Cornell University and Brookings Institution, author ofGaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi

Orlik opens the Chinese financial system up to outsiders. He unwraps complex institutions through cases that are always clear and concrete, often amusing, and on occasion, downright alarming. While laying bare the problems, Orlik is also careful to acknowledge the hidden sources of strength in the Chinese system. By the end of this accessible account, readers have been given the information they need to make up their own minds about the balance of risks and strengths in the Chinese financial system. Highly recommended to anyone concerned with the Chinese economy. ― Barry Naughton, Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego

Orlik covers complex debates in crystal-clear prose, spiced up with anecdotes from his years on the ground in China. His book serves as a primer on China's modern economic history, but, most importantly, lays out a strong contrarian case for why it can avoid a future crisis. ― Simon Rabinovitch, ASIA ECONOMICS EDITOR, The Economist

No one is better equipped to help us understand and to prognosticate the outcome of China's debt problem than veteran analyst Tom Orlik. This book has a rare combination of intense focus on the details of this complex problem and a lucid style which makes it a fun and engaging read to the educated public. Readers should prepare themselves for a wild ride through the twists and turns of a potential Chinese financial crisis. ― Victor Shih, Ho Miu Lam Chair Associate Professor in China and Pacific Relations, UC San Diego

Orlik plucks vivid examples from all over China to tell the story of the economy's remarkable rollercoaster ride. Beijing has defied the odds to survive four momentous economic cycles in forty years, Orlik explains. Aided by clear writing style and a healthy dose of good humour, he determines how China might reinvent its economy for a fifth time. ― Celia Hatton, Asia Pacific Editor, BBC

Thomas Orlik'sChina: The Bubble that Never Popsprovides a valuable historical overview of the build-up of debt in the world's second-largest economy over the last two decades. The author's deep knowledge and perceptive analysis make the book a timely contribution to our understanding of China's state-capitalist financial system and inefficient allocation of capital. ― Minxin Pei, author ofChina's Crony Capitalism

Orlik takes a dispassionate look at how, despite massive debt, non-performing loans, white elephant projects, and infamous ghost cities, China's economy has defied all the nay-sayers - at least for now. InChina: The Bubble that Never Pops, Orlik offers an inventory of the policy tools - often unavailable to western central bankers and political leaders - that China's Party technocrats have used to manage the economy and prevent or forestall hard landings. Lucid and highly readable, this is one of those rare books that manage to be accessible to non-specialists while still offering ample detail and data to those steeped in the arcana of the Chinese economy. ― Kaiser Kuo, host ofThe Sinica Podcastr on

Mr. Orlik does an excellent job of explaining why China's economy keeps confounding those who have predicted for years that it is a bubble about to pop. But he is no wide-eyed naif, rather he walks readers through all the issues and risks and help us understand how policymakers keep things together, while making clear that the risk of an eventual crisis is real. ― Bill Bishop, Publisher, Sinocism

Orlik musters his deep knowledge (and dry wit) to explain the stresses building beneath China's remarkable growth. The author mines his experiences as journalist and analyst covering China and Asia to provide clear comparative examples - he deploys 1980s Japan, 1990s Korea, and the catastrophic sub-prime crisis in the US, to illuminate the decisions taken by Chinese policymakers. This book is an accessible primer for anyone who wishes to understand China's choices today. ― Lucy Hornby, China correspondent, Financial Times

China watchers too often fall into one of two extreme camps: those who see everything through rose-tinted spectacles and those who can only see disaster ahead. Tom Orlik's book is, thankfully, much more nuanced. Written in an engaging style and peppered with anecdotes, "China: The Bubble that Never Pops" should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand how the Middle Kingdom has emerged to become the world's second largest economy. ― Stephen King, Senior Economic Adviser, HSBC, and author ofGrave New World

About the Author

Tom Orlik spent eleven years in China as Chief Asia Economist for Bloomberg and as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. He is currently the Chief Economist for Bloomberg, based in Washington DC. He is the author of Understanding China's Economic Indicators.
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Product details

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0190877405
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0190877408
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