Drawing on his experience as undersecretary of commerce for international trade from 1993 to 1995, Garten attempts to justify the Clinton administration's emphasis on commercial diplomacy, while not dwelling on its serious mistakes. It is an exercise in what could be called constructive alarmism, a wake-up call about the changing international structure and opportunities. Its basic message is surely right: America's government and businesses should pay more attention to emerging markets, for that is where the economic action is likely to be in coming decades. Garten identifies ten countries as big emerging markets: Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, and Turkey.
Following Clinton, he lays heavy emphasis on the importance of jobs, fashionable political currency both in Europe and in the United States. But for the near future, the quantity and quality of employment will be determined by the overall performance of the domestic economy in its many dimensions, and only marginally by trade with emerging markets. Furthermore, exclusive or even predominant concentration on the big ten is likely to be misguided. A similar book written 30 years ago would have missed South Korea altogether; the Koreas of the future may not be among these ten countries. But that point does not blunt the thrust of Garten's message, only its focus.