● 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years
By Jorgen Randers
Summary via publisher, Chelsea Green
Forty years ago, The Limits to Growth study addressed the grand question of how humans would adapt to the physical limitations of planet Earth. It predicted that during the first half of the 21st century the ongoing growth in the human ecological footprint would stop—either through catastrophic “overshoot and collapse”—or through well-managed “peak and decline.” So, where are we now? And what does our future look like? In the book 2052, Jorgen Randers, one of the co-authors of Limits to Growth, issues a progress report and makes a forecast for the next forty years. To do this, he asked dozens of experts to weigh in with their best predictions on how our economies, energy supplies, natural resources, climate, food, fisheries, militaries, political divisions, cities, psyches, and more will take shape in the coming decades…. The good news: we will see impressive advances in resource efficiency, and an increasing focus on human well-being rather than on per capita income growth. But this change might not come as we expect.
● The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System
By Jerry Mander
Review via IFG Oligarchy Blog
“What may have worked in 1850 and 1900 is calamitous in 2012,” says Jerry Mander, in “The Capitalism Papers”. A former advertising executive, Mander was Founder and is now Distinguished Fellow of the International Forum on Globalization. He argues that “the system is killing the planet, dismantling democracy, promoting wars and making people less happy, not more.” In a departure from most previous writings about our two centuries’ old economic system, “The Capitalism Papers” presents a series of point by point arguments that capitalism is increasingly non-viable, and obsolete. The book makes the case that the problems are intrinsic to the model, and are not reformable.
● Betting on China: Chinese Stocks, American Stock Markets, and the Wagers on a New Dynamic in Global Capitalism
By Robert Koepp
Summary via publisher, Wiley
Betting on China takes readers on an illuminating journey into the often confusing and poorly understood world of Chinese stock issuances in America. With insightful qualitative and quantitative analysis, it looks at the phenomenon of equity and capital exchanged between the world’s two largest economies and the implications for global finance. Written in an accessible narrative style and amply supported by hard data, the book examines the context and underpinnings of the Sino-American equity relationship, revealing its core dynamics through real-world case studies that range from the precedent-setting blockbuster IPO of China Mobile to the near breakdown of the U.S.-China equity exchange mechanism brought about by short seller attacks on Chinese concept stocks.
● The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual–The Biggest Bank Failure in American History
By Kirsten Grind
Review via Publishers Weekly
Hubris and greed break the bank in this absorbing saga of the housing bubble. In her first book, Wall Street Journal reporter Grind chronicles the rise of Washington Mutual from a sleepy Seattle-based thrift to America’s biggest savings and loan bank, its reckless plunge into the can’t-lose subprime mortgage market, and its 2008 failure. As the honest, avowedly “nice” WaMu succumbs to the lure of easy money, an almost Shakespearean boardroom melodrama unfolds, featuring vivid personalities like Kerry Killinger, WaMu’s conquering hero-turned-vacillating nebbishy CEO, and Jamie Dimon, the ruthless JPMorgan leader who swallowed WaMu.
● They Play, You Pay: Why Taxpayers Build Ballparks, Stadiums, and Arenas for Billionaire Owners and Millionaire Players
By James T. Bennett
Summary via publisher, Springer
They Play, You Pay is a detailed, sometimes irreverent look at a political conundrum: despite evidence that publicly funded ballparks, stadiums, and arenas do not generate net economic growth, governments keep on taxing sales, restaurant patrons, renters of automobiles, and hotel visitors in order to build ever more elaborate cathedrals of professional sport—often in order to satisfy an owner who has threatened to move his team to greener, more subsidy happy, pastures. This book is a sweeping survey of the literature in the field, the history of such subsidies, the politics of stadium construction and franchise movement, and the prospects for a re priva¬ti¬zation of ballpark and stadium financing. It ties together disparate strands in a fascinating story, examining the often colorful cases through which governments became involved in sports. These range from the well known to the obscure—from Yankee Stadium and the Astrodome to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles (to a privately built ballpark constructed upon land that had been seized via eminent domain from a mostly Mexican American population) to such arrant giveaways as Cowboys Stadium.
● Counting the Poor: New Thinking About European Poverty Measures and Lessons for the United States
Edited by by Douglas Besharov and Kenneth Couch
Summary via publisher, Oxford University Press
The poverty rate is one of the most visible ways in which nations measure the economic well-being of their low-income citizens. To gauge whether a person is poor, European states often focus on a person’s relative position in the income distribution to measure poverty while the United States looks at a fixed-income threshold that represents a lower relative standing in the overall distribution to gauge. In Europe, low income is perceived as only one aspect of being socially excluded, so that examining other relative dimensions of family and individual welfare is important. This broad emphasis on relative measures of well-being that extend into non-pecuniary aspects of people’s lives does not always imply that more people would ultimately be counted as poor. This is particularly true if one must be considered poor in multiple dimensions to be considered poor, in sharp contrast to the American emphasis on income as the sole dimension.
Previous Book Bits columns are available here