Book Bits | 7.27.13

When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence
By Stephen D. King
Summary via publisher, Yale University Press
The Western world has experienced extraordinary economic progress throughout the last six decades, a prosperous period so extended that continuous economic growth has come to seem normal. But such an era of continuously rising living standards is a historical anomaly, economist Stephen D. King warns, and the current stagnation of Western economies threatens to reach crisis proportions in the not-so-distant future. Praised for the “dose of realism” he provided in his book Losing Control, King follows up in this volume with a plain-spoken assessment of where the West stands today. It’s not just the end of an age of affluence, he shows. We have made promises to ourselves that are achievable only through ongoing economic expansion. The future benefits we expect—pensions, healthcare, and social security, for example—may be larger than tomorrow’s resources.


Remembering Inflation
By Brigitte Granville
Summary via publisher, Princeton University Press
Today’s global economy, with most developed nations experiencing very low inflation, seems a world apart from the “Great Inflation” that spanned the late 1960s to early 1980s. Yet, in this book, Brigitte Granville makes the case that monetary economists and policymakers need to keep the lessons learned during that period very much in mind, lest we return to them by making the same mistakes we made in the past. Granville details the advances in macroeconomic thinking that gave rise to the “Great Moderation”–a period of stable inflation and economic growth, which lasted from the mid-1980s through the most recent financial crisis. She makes the case that the central banks’ management of monetary policy–hinging on expectations and credibility–brought about this period of stability, and traces the roots of this success back to the eighteenth-century foundations of modern monetary thought.
Environmental Debt: The Hidden Costs of a Changing Global Economy
By Amy Larkin
Essay by author via The Huffington Post
As the country begins to feel the consequences of the new federal budget cuts, we must realize that all money is not created equal. The sad state of affairs is that neither the Obama administration nor the Congress seems willing to actually tell the truth about our federal budget. Today, one of our biggest financial burdens is environmental debt. In the near future, it will become the centerpiece of our financial troubles.
Brilliant Economics: Making Sense of the Big Ideas
By Phil Thornton
Summary via Amazon
Do you know David Ricardo from Adam Smith? What is the importance of Keynes and Friedman? How can a central government’s economic policy impact on your job, your wealth and your happiness? And are some things really too big to fail? In Brilliant Economics, award winning journalist Phil Thornton introduces you to the fundamentals of economics and monetary policy. It’ll help you become more knowledgeable about economics and will give you an awareness that will help you in good times and bad. Economics is the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. But in real terms it affects all of us on a daily basis: what we can buy, where we can live, how our careers develop and where we can go on holiday.
Breakpoint: Why the Web will Implode, Search will be Obsolete, and Everything Else you Need to Know about Technology is in Your Brain
By Jeff Stibel
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Macmillan
What can the human brain and its relationship to the internet tell us about our society, our technologies, and our businesses? A lot, as it turns out. The internet today is a virtual replica of the brain, and the networks that leverage it grow and collapse in ways that are easily predictable if you understand the brain and other biological networks. We’re living in the midst of a networking revolution. All of the major technology innovations of the 21st century – social networking, cloud computing, search engines, and crowdsourcing, to name a few – leverage the internet and are thus bound by the rules of networks. We’ve seen the exponential growth of these technologies, and they’ve led to a more efficient and tightly connected world. But what many people don’t realize is that all networks eventually reach a breakpoint and collapse. This happens in the brain, it happens in nature, it happened to MySpace, and it will happen to Facebook and Google.
Sovereign Wealth Funds: Legitimacy, Governance, and Global Power
By Gordon Clark, Adam Dixon, Ashby Monk
Summary via publisher, Princeton University Press
The worldwide rise of sovereign wealth funds is emblematic of the ongoing transformation of nation-state economic prospects. Sovereign Wealth Funds maps the global footprints of these financial institutions, examining their governance and investment management, and issues of domestic and international legitimacy. Through a variety of case studies–from the China Investment Corporation to the funds of several Gulf states–the authors show that the forces propelling the adoption and development of sovereign wealth funds vary by country. The authors also show that many of these investment institutions have identifiable commonalities of form and function that match the core institutions of Western financial markets.

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