Book Bits: 11 June 2022

Prediction Revisited: The Importance of Observation
Mark P. Kritzman, et al.
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In Prediction Revisited: The Importance of Observation, a team of renowned experts in the field of data-driven investing delivers a ground-breaking reassessment of the delicate science of prediction for anyone who relies on data to contemplate the future. The book reveals why standard approaches to prediction based on classical statistics fail to address the complexities of social dynamics, and it provides an alternative method based on the intuitive notion of relevance. The authors describe, both conceptually and with mathematical precision, how relevance plays a central role in forming predictions from observed experience. Moreover, they propose a new and more nuanced measure of a prediction’s reliability.

The Man Who Broke Capitalism: How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America―and How to Undo His Legacy
David Gelles
Review via Business Standard
In the 1980s, as American culture and politics were suddenly celebrating money and robber-baronism with a new go-go giddiness, “Welch was tapping into profound changes in the zeitgeist,” Mr Gelles writes. “An intellectual revolution had been coursing through academic, economic, legal and political circles,” but “no one had truly put this philosophy to work … until Welch.” By means of all-out “downsizing, deal making and financialization,” he became “the personification of American, alpha-male capitalism.”
He “instituted a series of mass layoffs,” and enthusiastically industrialised even this process by rating every employee and then each year firing the lowest-rated 10 per cent.

The New Goliaths: How Corporations Use Software to Dominate Industries, Kill Innovation, and Undermine Regulation
James Bessen
Adapted excerpt via MIT Technology Review
The key feature of dynamic economies, what economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction,” is that more productive firms—those with better products or lower costs or better business models—grow faster than less productive incumbents, eventually displacing them. But after 2000, on average, firms with a given level of productivity grew only half as fast as firms with that same level of productivity grew in the 1980s and 1990s. In other words, productivity has less effect on growth than it used to. And when productive firms grow more slowly, they are less likely to “leapfrog” industry leaders and displace them—the hallmark of disruption. Last year, research I conducted with my colleague Erich Denk directly linked the waning impact of productivity improvement to the greater industry dominance of large firms and their investments in software and other intangibles.

Daring to Struggle: China’s Global Ambitions Under Xi Jinping
Bates Gill
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
Increasingly powerful, prosperous and authoritarian, China under the leadership of Xi Jinping has become a more intense competitor across the globe — economically, technologically, diplomatically, militarily, and in seeking to influence people’s hearts and minds. But what does China ultimately want in the world? In this timely and illuminating book, internationally renowned China scholar Bates Gill explains the fundamental motivations driving the country’s more dynamic, assertive and risk-taking approach to the world under Xi Jinping.

Basic Statistics for Risk Management in Banks and Financial Institutions
Arindam Bandyopadhyay
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
The book provides an engaging account of theoretical, empirical, and practical aspects of various statistical methods in measuring risks of financial institutions, especially banks. In this book, the author demonstrates how banks can apply many simple but effective statistical techniques to analyze risks they face in business and safeguard themselves from potential vulnerability. It covers three primary areas of banking; risks-credit, market, and operational risk and in a uniquely intuitive, step-by-step manner the author provides hands-on details on the primary statistical tools that can be applied for financial risk measurement and management.

The Meddlers: Sovereignty, Empire, and the Birth of Global Economic Governance
Jamie Martin
Review via The Enlightened Economist
Global governance is understandably something of a preoccupation as economic globalisation seems to be in retreat at the same time that the scale and intensity of global challenges – climate change, the AI race, actual or simmering conflict, organised crime – is increasing. The Bretton Woods institutions – IMF and World Bank – established in the wake of World War Two remain important and powerful, and will have a lot on their plates in the next year or two, including the possibility of a new debt crisis alongside a surge in poverty and hunger. This context raises two questions. One is what is their guiding philosophy in terms of economic analysis and policy recommendations going to be now the old Washington Consensus version of conditionality has been more or less ditched? The other is whether they can help address the new kinds of challenges, or whether instead new institutions are needed?
They were forged out of a crisis of course, but in The Meddlers: Sovereignty, Empire and the Birth of Global Economic Governance Jamie Martin traces their forbears in the international economic institutions established near the beginning of the 20th century. The key issue he highlights is on the one hand the delicate balance between mutually beneficial co-ordination and voluntary loss of sovereignty among peer countries, and on the other the exercise of power by some countries over others (Imperial powers over colonies or later the US over its debtors) at the expense of the latters’ sovereignty.

Seen, Heard, and Paid: The New Work Rules for the Marginalized
Alan Henry
Review via Fast Company
There’s no shortage of workplace guides touching on tips to help employees move up the ranks—and journalist and author Alan Henry is ensuring racial and gender biases are accounted for.
Seen, Heard, and Paid: The New Work Rules for the Marginalized is a guide for marginalized employees—people of color, women, and those in the LGBTQ+ community—to reclaim their agency in the workplace.
While it’s true most employees have little power in comparison to their employers, the power gap widens even more for those of marginalized identities. For Henry, former editor-in-chief of LifeHacker and former editor of The New York Times‘s Smarter Living section, he’s spent time thinking about how work environments for employees of color like himself can lead to low pay and lack of career mobility.

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