● The Age of Deleveraging: Investment Strategies for a Decade of Slow Growth and Deflation
By Gary Shilling
Video interview with author via Daily Finance
Economist Gary Shilling, who correctly predicted the financial collapse, just released a new book, The Age of Deleveraging. In it Shilling explains why inflation isn’t what investors should be fearing, but rather deflation. He also explains why he thinks the U.S. economy is in for a period of slow growth, talks about his outlook for stocks–and provides recommendations on 10 investments investors should now make.
● Boom and Bust: Financial Cycles and Human Propserity
By Alex J. Pollock
Review via Wall Street Journal
Alex J. Pollock isn’t angry about the financial panic that erupted in 2008 and knocked the U.S. economy into the worst slump since the 1930s. Mr. Pollock, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former banker, isn’t even looking for someone to blame. In “Boom & Bust,” he swiftly identifies the villain—a familiar, sometimes endearing and invariably roguish character known as human nature.
As long as human nature is with us, periodic financial busts should be expected. Within the past decade or so, the U.S. has had two of them: the first involving the crash of dot-com stocks and the second, much worse, occasioned by the sudden realization that not everyone in America could afford a McMansion. Two financial crises in 10 years may seem like carelessness, but Mr. Pollock says that it is close to the norm: “The economic historian Charles Kindleberger, surveying three centuries of financial history, concluded that there has been a crisis about every 10 years.” These busts, Mr. Pollock writes, “arise from the intrinsic nature of human financial behavior.”
● The End of Arrogance: America in the Global Competition of Ideas
By Steven Weber and Bruce W. Jentleson
Review via Foreign Affairs
It is a widely held view that the American-centered international order that dominated the last half century is giving way to something new. But while few dispute that countries such as China, India, and Brazil will wield more power in the coming decades, it is less clear what they will do with their power. In this little book, two leading scholars offer a manifesto for U.S. leadership in a post-Western international system. Their major claim is that the era of U.S. ideological dominance is over. The world no longer gravitates to American-style ideas about the virtues of free markets, democracy, and hegemony. Power is diffusing not just to other states but to young people and social groups increasingly connected within an electronic global village.
● The Last Economic Superpower: The Retreat of Globalization, the End of American Dominance, and What We Can Do About It
By Joseph P. Quinlan
Excerpt via publisher, McGraw-Hill Professional
The financial crisis of 2008 was a circuit breaker—the global financial meltdown broke the supposed inexorable advance of free-market capitalism, throttled the primacy and influence of global finance, and undermined the economic superpower status of the United States. In another sense the crisis accelerated a number of key long-range trends that were already in motion before the crisis struck. The relative economic decline of the developed nations and the rising influence of the emerging markets in general and China in particular were fast-forwarded by the crisis and have, in turn, accelerated the move toward a less U.S.-centric, more multipolar world.
This new world will be more complex, fluid, and disruptive, notably for the architects and standard bearers of the postwar economic system: the United States, Europe, and to a lesser extent Japan. In the years ahead, global power and influence will be more diffused among nations and regions, making it more challenging to coordinate and craft solutions to pressing global problems. The era in which a handful of nations could meet for a weekend and set the global economic agenda for the rest of the world is over.
● The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Review via New York Times Book Review
No readers of “The Black Swan,” “Fooled by Randomness” or any of Mr. Taleb’s academic writings about economics, probability, risk, fragility, philosophy of statistics, applied epistemology, etc., will question whether he is qualified to dish out wisdom. And none will be surprised that Mr. Taleb, unlike the inspirational writer he calls “my compatriot from a neighboring (and warring) village in northern Lebanon, Kahlil Gibran, author of ‘The Prophet,’ ” can be blistering. His observations concern superiority, wealth, suckerdom, academia, modernity, technology and the all-purpose, ignorant “they” who dare to doubt him.
Even his book’s title, “The Bed of Procrustes,” is intentionally harsh. As he reminds readers in a brief introduction, the Procrustes of Greek mythology was the cruel and ill-advised fool who stretched or shortened people to make them fit his inflexible bed. Mr. Taleb’s new book addresses the latter-day ways in which “we humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies, and prepackaged narratives, which, on the occasion, has explosive consequences.”
● The Flaw of Averages: Why We Underestimate Risk in the Face of Uncertainty
By Sam L. Savage
Review via Journal of Financial Planning
The intent “is to help you make better judgments involving uncertainty and risk, both when you have the leisure to deliberate and, more importantly, when you don’t.”
There are three sections to the book: foundations, applications, and probability management, totaling almost 50 chapters. The foundations section is provided so readers become more able to intuitively grasp and visualize the consequences of uncertainty and risk. The segment is peppered with many familiar cautions about the erroneous use of averages, correlations, standard deviations, and other statistical calculations.