Book Bits | 8 August 2020

Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles
William Quinn and John D. Turner
Summary via publisher (Cambridge U. Press)
Why do stock and housing markets sometimes experience amazing booms followed by massive busts and why is this happening more and more frequently? In order to answer these questions, William Quinn and John D. Turner take us on a riveting ride through the history of financial bubbles, visiting, among other places, Paris and London in 1720, Latin America in the 1820s, Melbourne in the 1880s, New York in the 1920s, Tokyo in the 1980s, Silicon Valley in the 1990s and Shanghai in the 2000s. As they do so, they help us understand why bubbles happen, and why some have catastrophic economic, social and political consequences whilst others have actually benefited society. They reveal that bubbles start when investors and speculators react to new technology or political initiatives, showing that our ability to predict future bubbles will ultimately come down to being able to predict these sparks.

Ten Years to Midnight: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions
Blair H. Sheppard
Review via Modern Diplomacy
The world has 10 years to solve its urgent challenges or it will be too late. In his new book, TEN YEARS TO MIDNIGHT: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions (August 4, 2020; Berret-Koehler), Blair Sheppard sets out why that timeline is so crucial, what the most urgent challenges are and the key elements of a solution.
He argues that the 70-year period of economic and social progress kicked off by the Marshall Plan has now unraveled

The Great Devaluation: How to Embrace, Prepare, and Profit from the Coming Global Monetary Reset
Adam Baratta
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In 2008, the world economy suffered through the Housing Crisis which wiped out nearly $10 trillion in global asset value. In response, the Federal Reserve created Quantitative Easing, and added $3.5 trillion to their balance sheet over the next seven years. In March of 2020, we had a crisis and the Federal Reserve added another $3.5 trillion to their balance sheet, only this time they did it in a matter of seven weeks! The real crisis facing the world today is not the Coronavirus. The real crisis facing the world is explosive government debt and deficits. Governments are now left with no choice but to spend more than they make, borrow more than they can ever repay, and devalue their currencies to cover it all up.

Radical Hamilton: Economic Lessons from a Misunderstood Founder
Christian Parenti
Review via The Intercept
“Radical Hamilton: Economic Lessons From a Misunderstood Founder,” a new book by Parenti, takes a deep dive through Alexander Hamilton’s writing, along with his public reports as the nation’s first secretary of the Treasury, and emerges with a portrait of a man wildly misunderstood by his most strident critics and his most slobbering followers.
The Hamilton of the imagination of liberals is an immigrant who strived for a better life and built it in America, while setting down the cornerstones of our key institutions. He is a good Davos man, with just the right amount of skepticism in democracy — a skepticism rooted, of course, in good will, with nothing but the interests of the people, misguided as they often may be, at heart. That is an easy man for readers of this publication to loathe, and for readers of the New York Times to love.

Corporate Crime and Punishment: The Crisis of Underenforcement
John Coffee
Summary via publisher (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)
In the early 2000s, federal enforcement efforts sent white collar criminals at Enron and WorldCom to prison. But since the 2008 financial collapse, this famously hasn’t happened. Corporations have been permitted to enter into deferred prosecution agreements and avoid criminal convictions, in part due to a mistaken assumption that leniency would encourage cooperation and because enforcement agencies don’t have the funding or staff to pursue lengthy prosecutions, says distinguished Columbia Law Professor John C. Coffee. “We are moving from a system of justice for organizational crime that mixed carrots and sticks to one that is all carrots and no sticks,” he says.

It’s Time to Let America Work Again
Andrew F. Puzder
Summary via publisher (Encounter Books)
As we begin the process of reopening our economy, it is critical that we get back to work. The economic shutdown was intended to slow the spread of a lethal virus, not to permanently sacrifice our freedoms—and certainly not to expand government power and “fundamentally transform” America. During the shutdown, we’ve learned what that transformed America would look like, and it is ugly. With millions of people out of work and dependent on government—lacking the dignity of a job, the security of a paycheck, or the opportunity for a better future—depression and despair are creating an “epidemic within the pandemic” of suicides and drug and alcohol addiction. While there are risks, if we follow safety protocols and protect the vulnerable, we can safely reignite our economy as we undo the lockdown, eliminate policies that discourage work and enact policies that encourage hiring and growth. It’s time to reject the transformation to permanent government dependence and return instead to individual freedom and prosperity.

A Voyage Across an Ancient Ocean: A Bicycle Journey Through the Northern Dominion of Oil
David Goodrich
Review via Publishers Weekly
Scientist Goodrich (A Hole in the Wind) examines oil industry–dependent communities in the U.S. and Canada “where the seeds of climate change are sown” in this sensitive, if less than convincing, attempt to show how opposing voices in the debate over fossil fuels might be reconciled. Embarking on a 1,100-mile bike ride—from Fort McMurray, Alberta, the base of Canadian oil-sands extraction, to Williston, N.Dak., epicenter of the fracking boom—he makes vivid observations of how oil extraction can disfigure the landscape, from vast pools of industrial waste in Alberta that look like “foam in latte,” to brine spills in North Dakota that have contaminated groundwater. But he is less assured when considering how to move along the conversation about climate change.

Algorithmic Trading and Quantitative Strategies
Raja Velu, et al.
Summary via publisher (CRC Press)
Algorithmic Trading and Quantitative Strategies provides an in-depth overview of this growing field with a unique mix of quantitative rigor and practitioner’s hands-on experience. The focus on empirical modeling and practical know-how makes this book a valuable resource for students and professionals.

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