Chairman Mao’s guiding ambition was to turn China into a global superpower. But he was famously never a numbers man and found ministerial reports an excruciating compendium of “dull lists, figures and no stories.”
According to Jung Chang’s biography, one Soviet economic advisor concluded Mao had no “absolutely no understanding of economics,” after suggesting a timeline of “200 years or maybe 40”.
Modern economists, by contrast, have tried to be very precise in their forecasts about China. Yet they have often proved to be just as wide of the mark.