Book Bits | 1 April 2017

Confessions of a Wall Street Insider: A Cautionary Tale of Rats, Feds, and Banksters
By Michael Kimelman
Review via Forbes
As former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara contemplates his next move after being fired by President Trump, he leaves behind a mixed record on insider trading cases. Instead of cleaning up Wall Street by going after senior executives at the big banks who were responsible for much of the 2008 financial crisis, he chose to go aggressively after the hedge fund industry. While he can take credit for convicting, and sending to prison, billionaire Raj Rajaratnam and Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta, he proved to have reached too far by going after Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson who had their convictions overturned. As most media outlets touted Bharara’s record of wins and losses, few looked into the tactics used to win a number of these cases. Now, Michael Kimelman gives us a view of what it was like.

The Puzzle of the American Economy: How Changing Demographics Will Affect Our Future and Influence Our Politics
By Mark A. Pisano
Summary via publisher (Praeger)
The field of demographics does not focus on the economic impacts and the funding issues resulting from demographic change. Similarly, economics does not take into account demographic changes. The omissions in both fields are negatively impacting the nation: income reductions caused by demographic changes that have not been accounted for are so large that current fiscal policies are not able to mitigate them. The Puzzle of the American Economy: How Changing Demographics Will Affect Our Future and Influence Our Politics exposes the factors that are undermining the nation’s prospects for improving the rate of economic growth and keeping up with citizens’ needs for government-provided services.

The Production of Money: How to Break the Power of Bankers
By Ann Pettifor
Summary via publisher (Verso)
In this accessible, brilliantly argued book, leading political economist Ann Pettifor explains in straightforward terms history’s most misunderstood invention: the money system. Pettifor argues that democracies can, and indeed must, reclaim control over money production and restrain the out-of-control finance sector so that it serves the interests of society, as well as the needs of the ecosystem. The Production of Money examines and assesses popular alternative debates on, and innovations in, money, such as “green QE” and “helicopter money.” She sets out the possibility of linking the money in our pockets (or on our smartphones) to the improvements we want to see in the world around us.

Money Talks: Explaining How Money Really Works
Edited by Nina Bandelj, et al.
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
The world of money is being transformed as households and organizations face changing economies, and new currencies and payment systems like Bitcoin and Apple Pay gain ground. What is money, and how do we make sense of it? Money Talks is the first book to offer a wide range of alternative and unexpected explanations of how social relations, emotions, moral concerns, and institutions shape how we create, mark, and use money. This collection brings together a stellar group of international experts from multiple disciplines—sociology, economics, history, law, anthropology, political science, and philosophy—to propose fresh explanations for money’s origins, uses, effects, and future.

Fortune Makers: The Leaders Creating China’s Great Global Companies
By Michael Useem, et al.
Review via Publishers Weekly
Four business school professors deliver a lively exploration of the Chinese way of doing business. As the introduction emphasizes, China’s economy has accelerated with astonishing speed in recent decades, and without the political liberties typically associated with capitalism. For readers interested in understanding this process from the inside, the authors describe how the leaders of Chinese companies such as Haier, Alibaba, and Lenovo think about business. They break down this unique mindset into seven key phrases or terms—“their own way forward,” “the learning company,” “strategic agility for the long game,” “talent management,” “the big boss,” “growth as gospel,” and “governance as partnership”—and devote a chapter to each.