Book Bits | 8 July 2017

Will Robots Take Your Job?: A Plea for Consensus By Nigel M. de S. Cameron
Summary via publisher (Polity)
The trend that began with ATMs and do-it-yourself checkouts is moving at lightning speed. Everything from driving to teaching to the care of the elderly and, indeed, code-writing can now be done by smart machines. Conventional wisdom says there will be new jobs to replace those we lose – but is it so simple? And are we ready? Technology writer and think-tank director Nigel Cameron argues it’s naive to believe we face a smooth transition. Whether or not there are “new” jobs, we face massive disruption as the jobs millions of us are doing get outsourced to machines. A twenty-first-century “rust belt” will rapidly corrode the labor market and affect literally hundreds of different kinds of jobs simultaneously.

Beyond Smart Beta: Index Investment Strategies for Active Portfolio Management
By Gokhan Kula, et al.
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Beyond Smart Beta is the investor’s complete guide to index investing, with deep analysis, expert clarification and smart strategies for active portfolio management. From the general to the obscure, this book digs into every aspect of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) including ETCs and ETNs to break down the jargon and provide accessible guidance on utilising the indices as part of a more productive investment strategy. Succinct explanations of terms and concepts help you better grasp ETP anatomy, mechanics and practices, while examples, charts and graphs provide quick visual reference for total understanding. The expert author team examines the risks and benefits associated with various indexing approaches, sharing critical review of next-generation methods to help you make well-informed investment decisions.

The Ascendancy of Finance
By Joseph Vogl
Summary via publisher (Polity)
The global financial crisis of 2008 ushered in a system of informal decision-making in the grey zone between economics and politics. Legitimized by a rhetoric of emergency, ad hoc bodies have usurped democratically elected governments. In line with the neoliberal credo, the recent crisis has been used to realize the politically impossible and to re-align executive power with the interests of the finance industry. In this important book, Joseph Vogl offers a much longer perspective on these developments, showing how the dynamics of modern finance capitalism have always rested on a complex and constantly evolving relationship between private creditors and the state. Combining historical and theoretical analysis, Vogl argues that over the last three centuries, finance has become a” fourth estate, “marked by the systematic interconnection of treasury and finance, of political and private economic interests.

Bernie Madoff and the Crisis: The Public Trial of Capitalism
By Colleen P. Eren
Summary via publisher (Stanford University Press)
Bernie Madoff and the Crisis goes beyond purely investigative accounts to examine how and why Madoff became the epicenter of public fury and titillation. Rooting her argument in critical sociology, Colleen P. Eren analyzes media coverage of this landmark case alongside original interviews with dozens of journalists and editors involved in the reportage, the SEC Director of Public Affairs, and Bernie Madoff himself.

The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics
By Philip Mirowski and Edward Nik-Khah
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Information is a central concept in economics, and The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information explores its treatment in modern economics. The study of information, far from offering enlightenment, resulted in all matter of confusion for economists and the public. Philip Mirowski and Edward Nik-Khah argue that the conventional wisdom suggesting “economic rationality” was the core of modern economics is incomplete. In this trenchant investigation, they demonstrate that the history of modern microeconomics is better organized as a history of the treatment of information.

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