Book Bits | 25 July 2020

Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power
David Dayen
Summary via publisher (The New Press)
Over the last forty years our choices have narrowed, our opportunities have shrunk, and our lives have become governed by a handful of very large and very powerful corporations. Today, practically everything we buy, everywhere we shop, and every service we secure comes from a heavily concentrated market. This is a world where six major banks control most of our money, four airlines shuttle most of us around the country, and four major cell phone providers connect most of our communications. If you are sick you can go to one of three main pharmacies to fill your prescription, and if you end up in a hospital almost every accessory to heal you comes from one of a handful of large medical suppliers. Dayen, the editor of the American Prospect and author of the acclaimed Chain of Title, provides a riveting account of what it means to live in this new age of monopoly and how we might resist this corporate hegemony.

The Book of Alternative Data: A Guide for Investors, Traders and Risk Managers
Alexander Denev
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Harnessing non-traditional data sources to generate alpha, analyze markets, and forecast risk is a subject of intense interest for financial professionals. A growing number of regularly-held conferences on alternative data are being established, complemented by an upsurge in new papers on the subject. Alternative data is starting to be steadily incorporated by conventional institutional investors and risk managers throughout the financial world. Methodologies to analyze and extract value from alternative data, guidance on how to source data and integrate data flows within existing systems is currently not treated in literature. Filling this significant gap in knowledge, The Book of Alternative Data is the first and only book to offer a coherent, systematic treatment of the subject.

Rational Responses to Risks
Paul Weirich
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
Good decisions account for risks. For example, the risk of an accident while driving in the rain makes a reasonable driver decide to slow down. While risk is a large topic in theoretical disciplines such as economics and psychology, as well as in practical disciplines such as medicine and finance, philosophy has a unique contribution to make in developing a normative theory of risk that states what risk is, and to what extent our responses to it are rational. Weirich here develops a philosophical theory of the rationality of responses to risk. He first distinguishes two types of risk: first, a chance of a bad event, and second, an act’s risk in relation to its possible outcomes.

Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric
Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann
Review via NY Post
GE Power’s “solid profits … were illusory,” write Thomas Gryta and Ted Mann in “Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric” (Houghton Mifflin), out July 21. “The accounting tricks that looked like profits were actually just borrowing from the company’s future earnings.”
At that earlier meeting, Flannery wheeled on his CFO and tried to tamp down his rising panic.
“Did you f–king know about this?” he demanded.

The Double X Economy: The Epic Potential of Women’s Empowerment
Linda Scott
Summary via publisher (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan)
Linda Scott coined the phrase “Double X Economy” to address the systemic exclusion of women from the world financial order. In The Double X Economy, Scott argues on the strength of hard data and on-the-ground experience that removing those barriers to women’s success is a win for everyone, regardless of gender. Scott opens our eyes to the myriad economic injustices that constrain women throughout the world: fathers buying and selling daughters against their will; husbands burning brides whose dowries have been spent; men appropriating women’s earnings and widows’ land; banks discriminating against women applying for loans; corporations paying women less than men; men treating women as their intellectual inferiors due to primitive notions of female brain development; governments depriving women of affordable childcare; and so much more.

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