Book Bits | 5 January 2019

Too Smart for Our Own Good: Ingenious Investment Strategies, Illusions of Safety, and Market Crashes
By Bruce I. Jacobs
Summary via publisher (McGraw-Hill Education)
Financial crises are often blamed on unforeseeable events, the unforgiving nature of capital markets, or just plain bad luck. Too Smart for Our Own Good argues that these crises are caused by certain alluring investment strategies that promise both high returns and safety of capital. In other words, the severe and widespread crises we have suffered in recent decades were not perfect storms. Instead, they were made by us. By understanding how and why this is so, we may be able to avoid or ameliorate future crises—and maybe even anticipate them.

Visas and Walls: Border Security in the Age of Terrorism
By Nazli Avdan
Summary via publisher (University of Pennsylvania Press)
Borders traditionally served to insulate nations from other states and to provide bulwarks against intrusion by foreign armies. In the age of terrorism, borders are more frequently perceived as protection against threats from determined individuals arriving from elsewhere. After a deadly terrorist attack, leaders immediately encounter pressure to close their borders. As Nazli Avdan observes, cracking down on border crossings and policing migration enhance security. However, the imperatives of globalization demand that borders remain open to legal travel and economic exchange. While stricter border policies may be symbolically valuable and pragmatically safer, according to Avdan, they are economically costly, restricting trade between neighbors and damaging commercial ties. In Visas and Walls, Avdan argues that the balance between economics and security is contingent on how close to home threats, whether actual or potential, originate. When terrorist events affect the residents of a country or take place within its borders, economic ties matter less. When terrorist violence strikes elsewhere and does not involve its citizens, the unaffected state’s investment in globalization carries the day.

Broken Business: Seven Steps to Reform Good Companies Gone Bad
By José R. Hernandez
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
The news media is replete with stories of corporate scandal, corruption and misdeeds. The need for effective crisis management and corporate governance strategies has never been greater. Broken Business explains why corporate scandals happen, what to do when scandals arise in your company, and how to prevent their future occurrence. Offering real-world anecdotes and solutions, this book details how corporations can mitigate the risk of scandal, reform corporate image and install structures to create a more ethical and profitable company. This insightful resource dispels common misconceptions of corporate misconduct and its causes through fascinating research into human nature, and compelling storytelling that demonstrates fundamental flaws in corporate culture.

Bank 4.0: Banking Everywhere, Never at a Bank
By Brett King
Review via Irish Tech News
Brett King tackles the topic of whether banks have a future at all in the emerging, technology embedded world of the 21st century. In 30-50 years when cash is gone, cards are gone and all vestiges of the traditional banking system have been re-engineered in real-time, what exactly will a bank look like? How will we reimagine a bank account, identity, value, assets, investments? Then stepping back from this vision of the future, King and his cadre of `disruptors’ and Fintech mafia chronicle the foundations of this new banking ecosystem today. From selfie-pay in China, blockchain in Africa, self-driving cars with their own bank accounts and augmented reality tech that informs the future design of banking systems, this proves once and for all that we’re not in Wall Street anymore Toto. Bank 4.0 is what banking will become.

Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction
By Kieran Healy
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
This book provides students and researchers a hands-on introduction to the principles and practice of data visualization. It explains what makes some graphs succeed while others fail, how to make high-quality figures from data using powerful and reproducible methods, and how to think about data visualization in an honest and effective way. Data Visualization builds the reader’s expertise in ggplot2, a versatile visualization library for the R programming language. Through a series of worked examples, this accessible primer then demonstrates how to create plots piece by piece, beginning with summaries of single variables and moving on to more complex graphics.

The Interest of Time: A Great Balance Sheet Recession
By Alejandro Reyes
Summary via Amazon
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the events that led to the Global Financial Crisis, the economies around the world have yet to regain pre-crisis growth levels. After unprecedented levels of stimulus, the US has embarked on a process of normalization of interest rates. Will the central banks of the world raise rates before the private sector has repaired their balance sheets? Or will another recession put us on a collision course with 0% interest rates and the Zero Lower Bound? This book is about the Great Balance Sheet Recession, why it happened, how the governments, households and corporations of the world can deal with it, and steps you can take to strengthen your family’s balance sheet for the future.

Speculative Bubbles and Monetary Policy: A Theory Based on Japanese Experience
By Masayuki Otaki
Summary via publisher (Rowman & Littlefield)
Speculative Bubbles and Monetary Policy works at the intersection of economic theory history. While the consistent and penetrating perspective of theory is necessary for interpreting economic history, existing macroeconomic theories are fragile an ineffective at narrating an economic history that covers a relatively long period. Such fragility comes from arbitrariness in deployed economic theory as well as structural changes within an economy. This book presents a Keynesian theory with a rigorous dynamic microeconomic foundation that entirely differs from new Keynesian theory and applies it to the Japanese economic history from the 1980s to 2010s. It considers two primary incidents in the country’s economic history: the bubble boom from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, and the country’s immersion in neoliberalism at the turn of the century.

The Family Office: A Practical Guide to Strategically and Operationally Managing Family Wealth
By Boris Canessa, et al.
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
The book offers crucial advice in helping entrepreneurs and their families find or found a family office that fits their goals. The authors survey the key considerations in this process, including: What are the different models for family offices, and what are their respective benefits? What costs can be expected from a family office, and how much wealth must be under management to justify them? What are the role and responsibilities of the Family Officer and his staff? Which are best practices for family governance, succession planning, and philanthropy at a family office? These insights are then supplemented by a wide-ranging set of interviews with family members, family officers and consultants from around the world. Both family office professionals and families themselves will benefit from this thorough but highly approachable examination.

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