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Extreme Economies

Survival, Failure, Future - Lessons from the World’s Limits
Written by: Richard Davies
Narrated by: James MacCallum
Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audio edition of Extreme Economies by Richard Davies.

To understand how humans react and adapt to economic change we need to study people who live in harsh environments. From death-row prisoners trading in institutions where money is banned to flourishing entrepreneurs in the world's largest refugee camp, from the unrealised potential of cities like Kinshasa to the hyper-modern economy of Estonia, every life in this audiobook has been hit by a seismic shock, violently broken or changed in some way.

People living in these odd and marginal places are ignored by number crunching economists and political pollsters alike. Science suggests this is a mistake. This audiobook tells the personal stories of humans living in extreme situations, and of the financial infrastructure they create. Here, economies are not concerned with the familiar stock market crashes, housing crises, or banking scandals of the financial pages.

In his quest for a purer view of how economies succeed and fail, Richard Davies takes the listener off the beaten path to places where part of the economy has been repressed, removed, destroyed or turbocharged. By travelling to each of them and discovering what life is really like, Extreme Economies tells small stories that shed light on today’s biggest economic questions.

©2019 Richard Davies (P)2019 Penguin Audio

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Edgy, Entertaining Yet Elevating & Educating

There is a need for a comprehensive study of the Economies at the edge. From that perspective the title is quite inviting. In addition, I was in for a pleasant surprise. The author, Richard Davies does a wonderful job of picking up very interesting facts & insights and narrating them in interesting & engaging way. In my view, the author matches and surpasses Malcolm Gladwell's catchy style.

He chooses three frontiers: Survival, Failure & Future. Then narrates 3 Economies from each of them.

On Survival: Resurgence of Aceh after 2004 Tsunami, once in 500 years occurrence, serves as an excellent example. Resilience, entrepreneurship of people coupled with clear-cut departure from past and international help provided springboard for the take off of the economy while addressing the structural issues. Whereas, natural entrepreneurial zeal & energy of the people propelled the economy to boom; a township, built with his intention, glaringly stays as a failure! Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan which is emerging as permanent settlement offers an example of entrepreneurial spirit of the people, even in stateless state, shapes and scales up thriving Economy comparable to startup cultures all over the world! The author narrates the contrasting situation at Azraq camp too! Louisiana Penitentiary, the infamous 'Angola' thrives on informal Economy. The informal currency of the economy keeps on changing leveraging the circumstances and now the leading edge technology itself. Though the situation in Angola is hopeless, to say the least, the past inmates provide hope!

On Failure: Darien Gap continues to have great potential since Medieval ages due to natural resources and proximity to US, but fails badly because of the apathy of the people and lack of direction from the leadership. Kinshasa, erstwhile Leopoldville, is bestowed with the greatest riches of the nature in terms of minerals & forests. It's a sad picture of how a well endowed geography gets plundered & pillaged by the outsiders and then insiders to remain as the most expensive poorest city! Glasgow, though party of the successful, developed economy, turns out to be the ghost city for not seizing the emerging opportunities. The underlying causes for the drastic failure of economies with great potential are the extremely short term exploitation of the natural riches, lack of long term vision, self aggrandizement of the leaders at the cost of the whole economy and its future!

On Future: Akita in Japan provides the peep into the future of the world where the majority of the population is aged with bleak future ahead. Tallinn of Estonia provides reassuring & refreshing break from the other economies! Thanks to the leadership of the economy in the hands of the professionals & intellectuals,- with no political background and no ambition for power - the economy has embraced the emerging technologies in governance to propel the economy faster into prosperity surpassing the earlier-affluent neighbours. The study of Santiago exemplifies the increasing inequality in the face of rapidly expanding economy.

All these economies challenge the collective wisdom and push the envelopes of present day Economics!

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Excellent reading.

Excellent Narration. The book is very different, the authors has described different places all over the globe and how these places have extreme earning conditions due to various reasons.