Edward J. Lincoln is a senior fellow in Asia and Economic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. His previous Brookings books include Arthritic Japan (2001), Troubled Times: U.S.-Japan Trade Relations in the 1990s (1999), Japan's New Global Role (1995), and Japan's Unequal Trade (1990). In the mid-1990s, Lincoln served as special economic advisor to Walter Mondale, former U.S. ambassador to Japan.
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy-or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don't see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.
As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals-fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture-consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?
Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.
In this book, Edward J. Lincoln discusses Japan's burst of growth and the complex interplay of demographic, cultural, economic, and political forces that shaped the subsequent emergence of large domestic imbalances. The motivation and impact of Tokyo's successive attempts to deal with slower growth receive special attention: ballooning government deficits that supported domestic growth in the late 1970s, a determined switch to austerity measures in the 1980s as a surging current-account surplus conveniently buoyed the economy, and as yet uncertain responses to the recent appreciation of the yen that has capped the external surpluses.
Lincoln focuses on the changes experienced by Japan's financial institutions and their implications for international economic transactions. Slower growth and altered monetary flows have brought increasing domestic and international pressures for deregulating financial institutions, and the government has responded cautiously. The study analyzes the resulting tensions and crosscurrents within Japan and the strains that have developed in relations with the United States. It concludes with a lucid presentation of Japan's options for stimulating domestic demand through reducing private-sector savings, increasing investment, and raising government spending, as well as appropriate U.S. policies to promote these outcomes. Whatever policy decisions Japan makes in the next few years will be shaped by the economic forces and institutional framework Lincoln outlines.