Book Bits | 12 March 2016

Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe
By Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage
Excerpt via publisher (Princeton University Press)
What a country decides about taxes on the rich has profound consequences for its future economic growth and the distribution of economic resources and opportunities. Given the stakes, it’s surprising how few comparative studies exist of taxation of the rich over the long run. Many people have asked this question only for recent decades, or for a single country. The last book to treat the question extensively was published more than a century ago, by Edwin Seligman.

People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy
By Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols
Review via Pubishers Weekly
In a stirring call to arms, McChesney (Blowing the Roof off the Twenty-First Century) and Nichols (The S Word) argue that although the digital revolution has been world-shaking and ruthlessly efficient, it has fallen short of ushering in the utopia some have predicted, because the ability to determine the future has been concentrated among just a few powerful people. Global automation and dislocation—the result of which is that a tiny fraction of the workforce once needed can now complete the same amount of work—will soon lead to unemployment of a startling magnitude. No one has a plan to resolve this looming so-called jobless economy, not even the big tech companies that helped create the situation. Moreover, the authors find that historically, the U.S. government does not take action until faced with catastrophe. McChesney and Nichols warn of a “citizen- less democracy,” in which politicians pander only to the needs of a few wealthy donors, leaving the majority in the dust and excluding them from the process of worldbuilding.

The Institutional ETF Toolbox: How Institutions Can Understand and Utilize the Fast-Growing World of ETFs
By Eric Balchunas
Summary via publisher (Wiley/Bloomberg)
The Institutional ETF Toolbox is the institutional investor’s guide to utilizing exchange-traded funds and taking full advantage of the innovative new products in their expanding repertoire. The ETF toolbox is expanding rapidly with nearly one new ETF launching every day this decade so far. As with any financial innovation, this phenomenon brings both opportunity and concerns, as well as a dire need for clarity and strong due diligence skills. This book is both reference and resource, providing data-driven explanations backed by real-world market examples—alongside valuable insight from leading practitioners. Coverage includes an examination of the advantages and growth of ETFs as well as current and future uses of ETFs, emerging markets, and the strategic and tactical perspectives you need to effectively use ETFs to optimal effect. The major concerns surrounding ETFs are addressed in full to give you the background you need to formulate a better ETF strategy.

The Money Problem: Rethinking Financial Regulation
By Morgan Ricks
Summary via publisher (University of Chicago Press)
Years have passed since the world experienced one of the worst financial crises in history, and while countless experts have analyzed it, many central questions remain unanswered. Should money creation be considered a ‘public’ or ‘private’ activity—or both? What do we mean by, and want from, financial stability? What role should regulation play? How would we design our monetary institutions if we could start from scratch? In The Money Problem, Morgan Ricks addresses all of these questions and more, offering a practical yet elegant blueprint for a modernized system of money and banking—one that, crucially, can be accomplished through incremental changes to the United States’ current system. He brings a critical, missing dimension to the ongoing debates over financial stability policy, arguing that the issue is primarily one of monetary system design.

What’s Wrong with Money: The Biggest Bubble of All
By Michael Ashton
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
What’s Wrong with Money? explores how and why money is valued and the warning signs that point to its eventual collapse. Author Michael Ashton is widely regarded as a premier expert on inflation, and in this book, he illustrates how the erosion of trust in central banks is putting us at high risk of both near- and long-term inflation—and a potentially very serious disruption. It’s not about a conspiracy surrounding inflation reporting; it’s about the tentative agreement we all carry that lends money its value. This value isn’t necessarily inherent; while some currency is backed by stored value, others are not. This book walks you through the history of currency and details the ways in which it can fall apart. You’ll learn how to invest in any type of collapse scenario, and you’ll gain expert insight into the warning signs that signal a coming shock to the financial system.