Book Bits | 10 March 2018

How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life
By Janice Kaplan & Barnaby Marsh
Review via Kirkus Review
Seneca said it best: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” In this genial, upbeat overview, former Parade editor-in-chief Kaplan (The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life, 2015, etc.) and risk-taking expert Marsh offer stories of those lucky moments in the lives of countless people. “To get lucky, you have to be in a place where opportunities are going to be around you,” said Marsh in one of the authors’ regular weekly conversations, which drive the narrative. Kaplan, a veteran journalist, is often out conducting interviews with famous and successful (and lucky) people, and she compares notes with Marsh, who provides insights from his own risk-related work (as a visiting researcher at Princeton and Harvard), as well as other findings in psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience.

You Don’t Have to Drive an Uber in Retirement: How to Maintain Your Lifestyle without Getting a Job or Cutting Corners
By Marc Lichtenfeld
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
You Don’t Have to Drive an Uber in Retirement is a survival guide for your golden years, and a lifeline for those entering the Retirement Crisis unprepared. Roughly 45 percent of Americans have zero dollars saved for retirement—but the average retiree will spend $154,000 in out-of-pocket health care costs alone. We need to figure out how to generate more income, even in retirement, and spend less. How do we boost our retirement income? Is investing the way to go? How much do we need, anyway? This book does more than just answer the important questions—it gives you real-world tips to help you reach your financial goals. Yes, it is possible to increase your income in or as you approach retirement. These guidelines will help you optimize your assets and put away more money for the years you’ll need it most.

Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit, and Debt
By Richard Sylla and David J. Cowen
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
While serving as the first Treasury Secretary from 1789 to 1795, Alexander Hamilton engineered a financial revolution. Hamilton established the Treasury debt market, the dollar, and a central bank, while strategically prompting private entrepreneurs to establish securities markets and stock exchanges and encouraging state governments to charter a number of commercial banks and other business corporations. Yet despite a recent surge of interest in Hamilton, U.S. financial modernization has not been fully recognized as one of his greatest achievements.

Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia
By Chris Miller
Summary via publisher (University of North Carolina Press)
When Vladimir Putin first took power in 1999, he was a little-known figure ruling a country that was reeling from a decade and a half of crisis. In the years since, he has reestablished Russia as a great power. How did he do it? What principles have guided Putin’s economic policies? What patterns can be discerned? In this new analysis of Putin’s Russia, Chris Miller examines its economic policy and the tools Russia’s elite have used to achieve its goals. Miller argues that despite Russia’s corruption, cronyism, and overdependence on oil as an economic driver, Putin’s economic strategy has been surprisingly successful.

Governing the World’s Biggest Market: The Politics of Derivatives Regulation After the 2008 Crisis
Edited by Eric Helleiner, et al.
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the regulation of the world’s enormous derivatives markets assumed center stage on the international public policy agenda. Critics argued that loose regulation had contributed to the momentous crisis, but lasting reform has been difficult to implement since. Despite the global importance of derivatives markets, they remain mysterious and obscure to many. In Governing the World’s Biggest Market, Eric Helleiner, Stefano Pagliari, and Irene Spagna have gathered an international cast of contributors to rectify this relative neglect. They examine how G20 governments have developed a coordinated international agenda to enhance control over these markets, which had been allowed to grow largely unchecked before the crisis.

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living
By Elizabeth Willard Thames
Summary vjia publisher (HarperCollins)
The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter. In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog.

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