The author is Julian Gewirtz and the subtitle is Chinese Reformers, Western Economists, and the Making of Global China. I loved this book. It is a tour de force on China, the theory of policy advising, and the history of economic thought, all rolled into one. Here is one bit:
The Chinese side, meanwhile, had learned the hard way about Friedman’s dual persona and that his expertise on inflation could not be separated from his ideological intensity [TC: circa 1980]…Yang Peixin remembered Friedman as “extraordinarily stubborn,” someone who “thinks the world socialist experiment has failed,” and “would not speak politely no matter how high your position.”
It turns out that Wlodzimierz Brus and Ota Šik were two of the most important economists of the twentieth century, mostly because of their influence on China. Both came from Eastern Europe and centrally planned economies, but urged China to find a workable mixed model. Šik was a proponent of the ideas of Oskar Lange.
From this book you also will learn about the significant roles of Gregory Chow, James Tobin, and Janos Kornai, all explained with intelligence and lucidity. I enjoyed this bit:
To the Chinese participants [in the seminar], Tobin’s presentation had an almost theatrical power — after all, they had never before seen an economist in action in this way. One participant recalled that Tobin’s seemingly magical ability to make policy recommendations from quickly looking at a set of high-level data astonished him and his peers.
At one point during Tobin’s talk, the interpreter burst into tears. The more influential Kornai instead said this:
“I had in a sense two different faces, one face for Hungary and one face for China.”
More concretely, he was recommending shock therapy for Hungary but not for China. Friedman, by the way, had more influence when he returned to China for a Cato conference in 1988. But still the Chinese thought Friedman did not sufficiently understand the special characteristics of the Chinese economy.
Strongly recommended, due out early next year. Gewirtz, by the way, is a Rhodes Scholar and still has not finished his Ph.d. I eagerly await his next work. You can follow him on Twitter here. He is also well-known as a poet.