Authoritarian Capitalism in Asia

Authoritarian Capitalism. Sovereign Wealth Funds and State-Owned Enterprises in East Asia and Beyond is authored by Richard W. Carney and published by Cambridge University Press. It is reviewed for JCA by Editor-in-chief Kevin Hewison of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the USA and the Centre for Macau Studies at the University of Macau.

Get a free copy of the review here.

Carney argues that a “new statist-authoritarian world order is on the rise” and convincingly shows that understanding how authoritarian regimes operate “with their state-infused corporate sectors” is important. For example, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have grown rapidly, with assets over US$7.2 trillion in 2015. Nine of the top ten funds operated under authoritarian regimes and controlled about 75% of SWF assets in 2017.

Carney examines the most obvious China case of authoritarian capitalism but also dissects a variety of authoritarian regimes and investment vehicles in Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, along with Taiwan that has transitioned from authoritarianism to democracy. His focus is on SWFs and state-owned enterprises. While data-driven, the cases studies are also historically-grounded in a discussion where Carney sets out a plausible theoretical framework that links politics and business and measures it against his case studies.

Hewison concludes that: “Anyone who still believes that capitalism and authoritarianism cannot co-exist need to reconsider their view based on the detailed cases set out in Authoritarian Capitalism.”

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