Book Bits | 10 June 2017

Money Machine: The Surprisingly Simple Power of Value Investing
By Gary Smith
Review via NY Times
“Instead of trying to predict short-term zigs and zags in stock prices, value investors evaluate individual stocks and the market as a whole by looking for good companies that have low stock prices relative to their dividends, earnings and assets,” he writes….
Throughout the book, Mr. Smith provides financial formulas to help you identify value stocks, and his writing is clear and often clever. For example:
* “Bargains are not going to be found when investors are optimistic, but when they are pessimistic.”
* “Value investors do not buy metals — no matter how precious — because metals do not generate cash.”
* “It’s tempting to confuse a great company with a great stock.”

Dirty Secrets: How Tax Havens Destroy the Economy
By Richard Murphy
Review via Foreign Affairs
Murphy’s book aggressively attacks the world’s tax havens—or “secrecy jurisdictions,” as he calls them. Their most corrosive effect, in his judgment, is not to allow individuals (including criminals) and corporations to avoid or evade taxes, although that is important. Rather, the worst thing about tax havens is the way in which they prevent the kind of transparency in transactions that any well-functioning market requires. Tax havens also erode trust in democratic governments, which have proved unable or unwilling to enforce their own laws and regulations.

The Mathematical Corporation: Where Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Achieve the Impossible
By Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern
Summary via publisher (Public Affairs)
Mathematical corporations–the organizations that will master the future–will outcompete high-flying rivals by merging the best of human ingenuity with machine intelligence. While smart machines are weapon number one for organizations, leaders are still the drivers of breakthroughs. Only they can ask crucial questions to capitalize on business opportunities newly discovered in oceans of data. This dynamic combination will make possible the fulfillment of missions that once seemed out of reach, even impossible to attain. Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern’s extraordinary examples include the entrepreneur who upended preventive health care, the oceanographer who transformed fisheries management, and the pharmaceutical company that used algorithm-driven optimization to boost vaccine yields.

The Truth About Your Future: The Money Guide You Need Now, Later, and Much Later
Summary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
The traditional paradigms of how we live, learn, and invest are shifting under our feet. Ric Edelman has seen the future, and he explains how smart investors can adapt and thrive in today’s changing marketplace. Using the same prophetic insight that has made him an iconic financial advisor, Edelman offers sound, practical investment advice through the lens of recent scientific and technological advancements. He illustrates how discoveries in robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, solar energy, biotechnology, and medicine will redefine our life expectancies, careers, and retirements. As we live and work longer, Edelman provides clear advice on how to recalibrate the way we save for college, invest during our careers, and plan for retirement.

The Retreat of Western Liberalism
By Edward Luce
Review via Publishers Weekly
With this wide-ranging account, Luce (Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent) enters the fray of books posing the post-2016 question “What just happened?” He begins with a summary of the current global economy’s formation and its connections to prevailing modes of governance. This leads into a history of liberal democracy, which Luce argues is held together most strongly by economic growth. In the absence of such growth, illiberal tendencies take hold. The author then explores the possible consequences of the decline of Western hegemony, including a theoretical war against China which Luce calls “not a prediction” but “a plausible extrapolation of the direction in which Trump is taking U.S. foreign policy.”