Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles has become international bestseller
For the last 15 years, Morgan Stanley Investment Management's Head of Emerging Markets Ruchir Sharma has spent one week each month in a different developing nation. Once on the ground in a particular emerging market, Sharma is "obsessing about it, meeting all sorts of local characters, and traveling the breadth of the country, mostly by road," he says in the introduction to his new book Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles.
These op-eds touch on the themes Sharma develops in Breakout Nations, where he gives a country-by-country account explaining the unique forces that will give rise to the next economic success stories, as well as the next flops. In The New York Times, Sharma considers how the deceleration of China's economic growth will reshape the global balance of power, potentially allowing the U.S. to benefit. "If the United States continues to grow at its current pace of about 2.5 percent, and China slows to 6.5 percent, then the United States will regain the lead this year … and it will hold that lead at least through 2015, according to Morgan Stanley research," he writes.
Sharma's book—the fruit of those week-long fact-finding excursions—conveys an investor's thinking about what makes up a "breakout nation." Since its release in April, the book has become an international bestseller. It has appeared on a bestseller list compiled by The Wall Street Journal in the United States and has performed strongly in several emerging markets, most notably topping bestseller lists in India. All royalties from book sales due to Sharma will go to charity.
The book has been excerpted by TIME magazine, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, The Times of India, Forbes and The Globe and Mail. The book has been reviewed favorably by publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Sunday Times, O Globo and India Today.
A review in The Wall Street Journal Asia noted, "Breakout Nations works best as a compilation of highly illuminating country vignettes — similar, say, to Michael Lewis' Boomerang...As with Mr. Lewis' work on the European crisis, for sheer readability and insight on the various parts of the ongoing developing world drama, I dare say you won't find a better choice."
CNN host Fareed Zakaria named Breakout Nations as a "Book of the Week" on his weekly public affairs show Fareed Zakaria GPS and said, "This is the best book on global economic trends I've read in a while. Sharma says that the BRICs, Brazil, India, China, and Russia, those golden growing nations, are slowing down. So who is going to take their place? Well, read the book."
Sharma defines breakout nations as those that that can sustain rapid growth, beating or at least matching high expectations and the average growth rates of their income class; for the richer emerging markets with average incomes of $20,000 to $25,000 (such as the Czech Republic or South Korea) breaking out will mean three to four percent growth in GDP, while for India, in the class of $5,000 and less, anything less than six to seven percent will feel like a recession.
As he notes in his introduction, "To identify breakout nations it is key to travel with an eye toward understanding which economic and political forces are in play at the moment, and whether they point to growth, and at what speed."
Sharma argues a nuanced perspective on individual nations may not have mattered so much even a decade ago, when developing economies represented less than 20 percent of the global economy and merely five percent of the world's stock market capitalization. As of 2011, emerging markets represent nearly 40 percent of the global economy and just under 15 percent of the total value of the world's stock markets. These economies, Sharma argues, are now too big to be lumped into one marginal class, and are better understood as individual nations.
Sharma has also appeared on such media outlets as CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC, Bloomberg and NDTV to discuss the book.
Recently, he authored opinion pieces for The New York Times and Financial Times:
For the Financial Times, Sharma outlines how Russian President Vladimir Putin can face the challenge of inflated expectations and stalled economic growth. "Put simply, Russia needs to fill in its missing middle— to develop manufacturing, road and rail, the middle and millionaire class, and medium-sized companies," Sharma writes.