Book Bits |10 September 2016

Book of Value: The Fine Art of Investing Wisely
By Anurag Sharma
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
Financial markets are noisy and full of half-baked opinions, innuendo, and misinformation. With deep insights about investor psychology, Book of Value shows how to apply tools of business analysis to sort through the deceptions and self-deceptions in financial markets. Anurag Sharma joins philosophy with practical know-how to launch an integrated approach to building high-performance stock portfolios.

JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity
By Lawrence Kudlow and Brian Domitrovic
Review via Forbes
The authors assert that “Both Kennedy and Reagan identified substantially cutting income tax rates and getting the dollar strong and stable as the specific policy mix that would let the private sector, which is to say the real economy, thrive.” Life is once again, very simple. So is economic growth. Let’s not forget that an economy is but a collection of individuals. Broken down to the individual we can easily see that no individual is made more prosperous if more and more of his income is confiscated through taxation.

The Intelligent REIT Investor: How to Build Wealth with Real Estate Investment Trusts
By Stephanie Krewson-Kelly and R. Brad Thomas
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
The Intelligent REIT Investor is the definitive guide to real estate investment trusts, providing a clear, concise resource for individual investors, financial planners, and analysts—anyone who prioritizes dividend income and risk management as major components to wealth-building.

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
Summary via publisher (Crown/Penguin Random House)
A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life — and threaten to rip apart our social fabric. We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination.

Global Poverty: Deprivation, Distribution, and Development Since the Cold War
By Andy Sumner
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Why are some people poor? Why does absolute poverty persist despite substantial economic growth? What types of late economic development or ‘catch-up’ capitalism are associated with different poverty outcomes? Global Poverty addresses these apparently simple questions and the extent to which the answers may be shifting. One might expect global poverty to be focused in the world’s poorest countries, usually defined as low-income countries, or least developed countries, or ‘fragile states’. However, most of the world’s absolute poor by monetary or multi-dimensional poverty – up to a billion people – live in growing and largely stable middle-income countries.

Portfolio Society: On the Capitalist Mode of Prediction
By Ivan Ascher
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
As financial markets expand and continue to refashion the world in their own image, the wealth of capitalist societies no longer presents itself, as it did to Karl Marx in the nineteenth century, as a “monstrous collection of commodities.” Instead, it appears as an equally monstrous collection of financial securities, and the critique of political economy must proceed accordingly. But what would it mean to write Capital in the twenty-first century? Are we really to believe that risk, rather than labor, is now regarded as the true fount of economic value? Can it truly be the case that the credit relation—at least in the global North—has replaced the wage relation as the key site of exploitation and political struggle? And finally, if precarity is indeed the name of today’s proletarian condition, what possible future does it actually portend, what analysis does it require?