Book Bits | 6.28.14

The Mystery of Market Movements: An Archetypal Approach to Investment Forecasting and Modelling
By Niklas Hageback
Summary via publisher, Wiley
There has long been a notion that subliminal forces play a great part in causing the seemingly irrational financial bubbles, which conventional economic theory, again and again, fails to explain. However, these forces, sometimes labeled ‘animal spirits’ or ‘irrational exuberance, have remained elusive – until now. The Mystery of Market Movements provides you with a methodology to timely predict and profit from changes in human investment behaviour based on the workings of the collective unconscious. Niklas Hageback draws in on one of psychology’s most influential ideas – archetypes – to explain how they form investor’s perceptions and can be predicted and turned into profit.

Hard Times: The Divisive Toll of the Economic Slump
By Tom Clark and Anthony Heath
Summary via publisher, Yale University Press
2008 was a watershed year for global finance. The banking system was eventually pulled back from the brink, but the world was saddled with the worst slump since the 1930s Depression, and millions were left unemployed. While numerous books have addressed the financial crisis, very little has been written about its social consequences. Journalist Tom Clark draws on the research of a transatlantic team led by Professors Anthony Heath and Robert D. Putnam to determine the great recession’s toll on individuals, families, and community bonds in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Money as God?: The Monetization of the Market and its Impact on Religion, Politics, Law, and Ethics
Edited by Jürgen von Hagen and Michael Welker
Summary via publisher, Cambridge University Press
The nature of money and its impact on society has long interested scholars of economics, history, philosophy, law, and theology alike, and the recent financial crisis has moved these issues to the forefront of current public debate. In this study, authors from a range of backgrounds provide a unified examination of the nature and the purpose of money. Chapters cover the economic and social foundations of money; the historical origins of money in ancient Greece, China, the ancient Middle East, and medieval Europe; problems of justice connected to the use of money in legal systems and legal settlements, with examples both from ancient history and today; and theological aspects of monetary and market exchange. This stimulating interdisciplinary book, with its nontechnical and lively discussion, will appeal to a global readership working in the interfaces of economics, law and religion.

What Money Wants: An Economy of Desire
By Noam Yuran
Summary via publisher, Oxford University Press
One thing all mainstream economists agree upon is that money has nothing whatsoever to do with desire. This strange blindness of the profession to what is otherwise considered to be a basic feature of economic life serves as the starting point for this provocative new theory of money. Through the works of Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, and Max Weber, What Money Wants argues that money is first and foremost an object of desire. In contrast to the common notion that money is but an ordinary object that people believe to be money, this book explores the theoretical consequences of the possibility that an ordinary object fulfills money’s function insofar as it is desired as money. Rather than conceiving of the desire for money as pathological, Noam Yuran shows how it permeates economic reality, from finance to its spectacular double in our consumer economy of addictive shopping. Rich in colorful and accessible examples, from the work of Charles Dickens to Reality TV and commercials, this book convinces us that we must return to Marx and Veblen if we are to understand how brand names, broadcast television, and celebrity culture work.

Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family
By June Carbone and Naomi Cahn
Review via The Wall Street Journal
Forget the gender gap. The fundamental divide in the United States today runs along the lines of class and marriage. College-educated Americans and their children reap the benefits of comparatively stable, happy marriages, while less-educated Americans—especially the poor and the working-class—are more likely to struggle with family lives marked by discord and marital instability. This two-tiered story, articulated powerfully by Charles Murray in his recent book, “Coming Apart,” is also the one told by June Carbone and Naomi Cahn in “Marriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family.”

Virtual Economies: Design and Analysis
By Vili Lehdonvirta and Edward Castronova
Summary via publisher, MIT Press
In the twenty-first-century digital world, virtual goods are sold for real money. Digital game players happily pay for avatars, power-ups, and other game items. But behind every virtual sale, there is a virtual economy, simple or complex. In this book, Vili Lehdonvirta and Edward Castronova introduce the basic concepts of economics into the game developer’s and game designer’s toolkits. Lehdonvirta and Castronova explain how the fundamentals of economics—markets, institutions, and money—can be used to create or analyze economies based on artificially scarce virtual goods. They focus on virtual economies in digital games, but also touch on serious digital currencies such as Bitcoin as well as virtual economies that emerge in social media around points, likes, and followers. The theoretical emphasis is on elementary microeconomic theory, with some discussion of behavioral economics, macroeconomics, sociology of consumption, and other social science theories relevant to economic behavior.

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