Book Bits | 11 November 2017

Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter
By Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler
Summary via publisher (HarperCollins)
We think of money as numbers, values, and amounts, but when it comes down to it, when we actually use our money, we engage our hearts more than our heads. Emotions play a powerful role in shaping our financial behavior, often making us our own worst enemies as we try to save, access value, and spend responsibly. In Dollars and Sense, bestselling author and behavioral economist Dan Ariely teams up with financial comedian and writer Jeff Kreisler to challenge many of our most basic assumptions about the precarious relationship between our brains and our money. In doing so, they undermine many of personal finance’s most sacred beliefs and explain how we can override some of our own instincts to make better financial choices.

Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy
By Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Early in the twenty-first century, a quiet revolution occurred. For the first time, the major developed economies began to invest more in intangible assets, like design, branding, R&D, and software, than in tangible assets, like machinery, buildings, and computers. For all sorts of businesses, from tech firms and pharma companies to coffee shops and gyms, the ability to deploy assets that one can neither see nor touch is increasingly the main source of long-term success. But this is not just a familiar story of the so-called new economy. Capitalism without Capital shows that the growing importance of intangible assets has also played a role in some of the big economic changes of the last decade. The rise of intangible investment is, Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake argue, an underappreciated cause of phenomena from economic inequality to stagnating productivity.

The Zero Dollar Car: How the Revolution in Big Data Will Change Your Life
By John Ellis
Summary via publisher (Barlow Books)
The Zero Dollar Car explores the deep changes that Big Data will make to our lives in the very near future. A car is a perfect example. Right now cars are outfitted with sensors that gather valuable information about the driver and road conditions. What if the driver could trade that information for money? That information could be so valuable that it could pay for the car.
Cars are only the beginning. Imagine the Zero Dollar House — would you be willing to trade the information sensors gather in your fridge, your bathroom, and elsewhere? Big technology companies like Apple and Google are already profiting from the sale of this kind of information, so why shouldn’t we?

How Global Currencies Work: Past, Present, and Future
By Barry Eichengreen, et al.
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
At first glance, the modern history of the global economic system seems to support the long-held view that the leading world power’s currency—the British pound, the U.S. dollar, and perhaps someday the Chinese yuan—invariably dominates international trade and finance. In How Global Currencies Work, three noted economists provide a reassessment of this history and the theories behind the conventional wisdom.

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