Book Bits | 10.26.13

WRONG: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn from Them
By Richard Grossman
Q&A with author via
Q: You have a book coming out this October about economic policy disasters and what we can learn from them. Tell me about that.
A: I found nine economic policy mistakes over the last couple hundred years and did a sort of economic autopsy to explain why they happened and find themes that runs through the mistakes.
Q: What did you find?
A: The main theme seems to be that things go really wrong when policymakers are taken up by ideology. For example, if some percent of your political party sign a pledge saying they would never under any circumstances vote to raise taxes, I would say that is based purely on ideology. My book is sort of a plea for non-ideological, analysis-based economic policy.

NeuroInvesting: Build a New Investing Brain
By Wai-Yee Chen
Summary via publisher, Wiley
As an investment advisor to high net worth individuals, Wai-Yee Chen has spent years watching her clients make investment decisions—some good decisions and some not-so-good decisions. Though confronted by the same market variables, those clients often make very different choices with very different results. Here, Chen argues that it’s usually not the data that affects investor decision-making as much as the way investors themselves think. In NeuroInvesting, Chen argues that investors can change the way they think in order to change the way they invest. She presents four elements that affect investor decision-making and reveals how investors can rewire their brains to make better investing decisions for better returns.
The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting
By Alan Greenspan
Review via The Washington Post
His latest book, oddly named “The Map and the Territory,” is meant to be an account of his intellectual journey to discover why, as the nation’s top bank regulator and its most famous economic prognosticator, he failed to see it all coming. Why had the markets, which for centuries had been so adept at self-correction, failed this time? Why had bank executives, with every incentive to protect their fortunes and reputations, knowingly gambled it all away?
What we find, however, is that Greenspan’s journey of discovery brings him right back to where he began — to an unshakable faith in free markets, an antipathy toward market regulation, and a conviction that progressive taxes and social spending are to blame for slow growth, stagnant wages and exploding deficits.
The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World
By William Nordhaus
Review via The New York Review of Books
So the future is uncertain, a reality acknowledged in the title of Nordhaus’s new book, The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World. Yet decisions must be made taking the future—and sometimes the very long-term future—into account. This is true when it comes to exhaustible resources, where every barrel of oil we burn today is a barrel that won’t be available for future generations. It is all the more true for global warming, where every ton of carbon dioxide we emit today will remain in the atmosphere, changing the world’s climate, for generations to come. And as Nordhaus emphasizes, although perhaps not as strongly as some would like, when it comes to climate change uncertainty strengthens, not weakens, the case for action now.
Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets
By Peter Schweizer
Reportage via National Journal
A new book that argues politicians in Washington manufacture crises and manipulate vote scheduling and other legislative activity as part of a Mafia-like “protection racket” to extort campaign donations is drawing attention from such divergent corners as The New York Times and Sarah Palin.
But the book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes and Line Their Own Pockets, is predictably not drawing rave reviews from House Speaker John Boehner, whose office is lashing out at author Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and an editor-at-large at Breitbart.
“He should probably read ‘Congress for Dummies’ before he starts making bogus and salacious claims to sell books,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement.
A Re-Assessment of Aristotle’s Economic Thought
By Ricardo F. Crespo
Summary via publisher, Routledge
The work of Aristotle has influenced writers from Marx and Menger to Amartya Sen. This book introduces us to Aristotle’s thought on ‘the economic’ and on its influences on economists. First, it focuses on Aristotle´s ideas, situating Aristotle in his historical context, describing his positions on the economic and analysing what kind of reality the economic is, its relation with ethics and with politics. Then, it determines what kind of science is concerned with the economic. Later, it analyses related topics and shows the influence of Aristotle’s ideas on contemporary economists. It concludes by highlighting the Aristotelian contributions to today’s economy. This scholarly volume offers important new insights into the Aristotelian approach to the economy itself, as well as to the idea of economics as a science, bringing Aristotle’s views to bear on the modern economy.
Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny
By Howard S. Dvorkin
Summary via publisher, Wiley
Millions of people suffer financial hardship due to job loss and a variety of other factors. What you need to do in order to take control of your financial destiny includes changing the way you confront and deal with everyday pressures related to shopping, advertising, credit cards, keeping up with the Joneses, and spending money. In Power Up, Howard Dvorkin—founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services—draws on his years of experience helping thousands of people overcome devastating financial hardship. He provides you with time-tested strategies and powerful tools to rebuild your financial life on a solid and enduring foundation. Besides discussing guidelines for creating a realistic budget and sticking to it, Dvorkin also shares tips on how to learn to live without credit cards—and love doing it—as well as puts you in a better position to understand the difference between what you want and what you need.