Ladies and Gentlemen :
- I am delighted to have been invited once again to launch a book published by Tan Sri Lin. I am even more delighted that another volume of his excellent and enlightening essays is being published. This will complement and extend the considerable weight of insight and knowledge contained in the first volume, and contribute much to our understanding of the times we are living through.
- Since the publication of that first book, ‘The Global Economy in Turbulent Times,’ it sometimes seems as if the world has become even more turbulent. This is felt in the troubling persistence of political upheavals and economic inequality in many countries, and of the wars, terrorism, forced migration and immense human suffering that these continue to generate. It is felt in the still-reverberating shockwaves caused by the growing political populism in Europe and the US. Further turbulence is created by the apparently heightening geo-political tensions between key global players. And it is also felt in the devastation caused by intensifying weather events such as the current flooding in the US and South Asia, with the threat of worse to come that such events portend. The disruptive force of accelerating technological change, with all its transformative potential, causes further uncertainty.
- More than ever, we need authoritative guides to help us navigate through these highly unpredictable and even perilous times. In the capable hands of Tan Sri Lin, we can at least develop a better understanding of the nature of some of the weightier challenges that we face. The more that these are considered and discussed, especially by someone with the unique insights of Tan Sri Lin, gained through decades of experience and exposure at the coal face of the global political economy so to speak, the greater the potential we have to anticipate and address them. And we can even discover ways to solve them, thanks to Tan Sri Lin’s inimitable questioning of what we are to do.
- Many of the articles collected in this wide-ranging book focus on the economic dimensions of the events shaping our times, and it is in this area that I feel it makes perhaps its greatest contribution. Tan Sri Lin is exceptionally skillful at conveying relevant nuggets of economic theory and economic history, as part of his illuminating explanations of the various crises we face. It is fairly commonplace to hear about the economic discontent that lies behind the political upheavals of recent times. What is rarer, however, is the concise and clear but also nuanced analysis of these underlying economic dynamics that Tan Sri Lin so ably provides, on a range of topics from trade to finance to national debt.
- Despite its undoubted influence, the discipline of economics has also long been subject to considerable and often valid criticism. As well as its undeniable tendency to over-abstraction, it embodies a very specific and ultimately limited set of values. These limits are shown up clearly in debates on the use of Gross Domestic Product or GDP as a measure of national well-being for example, or in calculations of environmental costs and benefits. Criticism of the discipline only intensified following its failure to predict the global financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed. As one critic put it, while they focused on perfecting theoretical models of how markets function, economists neglected the human, historical and political forces that shape economies.
- But whatever these shortcomings, economic perspectives do of course still have tremendous explanatory power, and this is clearly demonstrated by this book. If we are to navigate these turbulent times effectively, it is absolutely crucial to understand fully the economic dynamics that underpin and drive the more visible political developments. Our ability to do so is greatly enhanced by the analysis provided here, of global financial flows, currencies and debt, of the role of monetary and fiscal policy, and of the impacts of technology and globalization. These various economic forces and relationships are brought to the forefront and illuminated in careful detail throughout the chapters of the book, and with a truly global range.
- It is thus above all for his informative and penetrating economic analysis that I particularly commend Tan Sri Lin, and recommend the book to his readers, who will learn much from it of great value. I trust that it will be as widely read and enjoyed as the first. It is with the greatest pleasure that I now launch this book, ‘Turbulence in Trying Times : What are we to do ?’, by Tan Sri Lin See Yan.