Book Bits: 1 May 2021

Averting Catastrophe: Decision Theory for COVID-19, Climate Change, and Potential Disasters of All Kinds
Cass R. Sunstein
Summary via publisher (NY University Press)
The world is increasingly confronted with new challenges related to climate change, globalization, disease, and technology. Governments are faced with having to decide how much risk is worth taking, how much destruction and death can be tolerated, and how much money should be invested in the hopes of avoiding catastrophe. Lacking full information, should decision-makers focus on avoiding the most catastrophic outcomes? When should extreme measures be taken to prevent as much destruction as possible?

Madoff Talks: Uncovering the Untold Story Behind the Most Notorious Ponzi Scheme in History
Jim Campbell
Summary via publisher (McGraw Hill)
By the time his outrageous financial crimes were exposed, financier Bernie Madoff had stolen more than 18 billion dollars from thousands of investors. Madoff Talks offers the most complete investigation yet into the largest Ponzi scheme in world history—and a rare glimpse into the mind of its chief architect. For the first time, Madoff reveals the decision making behind his massive deception. It’s a story full of indictments, explanations, and startling revelations. Author Jim Campbell explores the role of the “Big Four” Madoff clients, JPMorgan Chase, and hungry “feeder funds,” shining a spotlight on the participants in deception.

Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age
Amy Klobuchar
Review via The New York Times
Antitrust is an unusually arcane area of the law, not easily accessible to a wide public. In response to this gap and to provide a narrative backdrop to her current legislative efforts, Klobuchar has written “Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power From the Gilded Age to the Digital Age.” A history of antitrust policy may not sound like the most compelling raw material for a page turner. But the book is an impressive work of scholarship, deeply researched — it has over 200 pages of footnotes — highly informative and surprisingly readable in the bargain.

Entries & Exits: Visits to 16 Trading Rooms
Alexander Elder
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Dr. Alexander Elder leads you into 16 trading rooms where you meet traders who open up their diaries and show you their trades. Some of them manage money, others trade for themselves; some trade for a living, others are on the semi-professional level. All are totally serious and honest in sharing their trades with those who would like to learn. You will meet American and international traders who trade stocks, futures, and options using a variety of methods. All are normally very private, but now, thanks to their relationships with Dr. Elder, you can see exactly how these traders decide to enter and exit trades. Each chapter illustrates an entry and an exit for two trades, with comments by Dr. Elder. With this book as your guide, you can get closer to mastering the key themes of trading—psychology, tactics, risk control, record keeping, and the decision-making process.

Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All
Michael Mechanic
Review via The Daily Beast
Mechanic’s meticulously researched book is about way more than the rich and their obscene acquisitiveness. It’s an often frightening primer on how the Trumps, Kardashians, Bezos, and Sacklers of the world have their way in just about everything, whether it’s getting into the best colleges, obtaining the best health care or influencing legislation that can benefit them financially.
The attitude seems to be, says Mechanic, especially when it comes to political clout, “this is my money, and I want to keep as much of it as possible. They have political clout, and they use that clout, and they pay less taxes than the people at the bottom. It’s legal, but not really ethical, because you’re perpetuating an unfair system.”

Man of the Futures: The Story of Leo Melamed and the Birth of Modern Finance
Leo Melamed
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
As the founder of financial futures and initiator of Globex, the world’s first global electronic trading system, Leo Melamed revolutionized the finance industry. Man of the Futures, his definitive memoir, recounts Melamed’s journey from Holocaust survivor and accidental runner at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), to one of the most prominent leaders in the world of finance. Man of the Futures offers exclusive access to the rationale behind some of the biggest financial decisions and dealings in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Asset Allocation and Private Markets: A Guide to Investing with Private Equity, Private Debt, and Private Real Assets
Cyril Demaria, et al.
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Asset Allocation and Private Markets provides institutional investors, such as pension funds, insurance groups and family offices, with a single-volume authoritative resource on including private markets in strategic asset allocation. Written by four academic and practitioner specialists, this book provides the background knowledge investors need, coupled with practical advice from experts in the field.

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