Book Bits | 13 April 2019

Big Business:
A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero

By Tyler Cowen
Review via Reason
Could it be that you are getting a better deal from big technology companies than you realize? George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen thinks so, and he has penned a new book to convince you that you should love big businesses as much as he does.
It’s called Big Business: A Love Letter to An American Anti-Hero, and it indeed sings the praises of today’s bêtes noires. In true Cowenesque fashion, the book starts out with a markedly contrarian premise that by the last page seems so evident that you wonder why it first felt outlandish at all. Even the most dogged big business critic may feel just a little tenderer towards today’s titans by the end (whether they want to admit it or not).

Will the gig economy prevail?
By Colin Crouch
Review via FT Adviser
The gig economy accounts for 20-30 per cent of the total workforce in Europe and US, but just 3 per cent of the business revenue.
It has also led to the rise of the precarious workers – these are people working in the gig economy but who do not have the security of the traditional employment contract and whose lives are becoming increasingly precarious.
Mr Crouch argues that the gig economy is underpinned by workers whose economic situation allows for no choice and that only if people have a base of security can they be expected to welcome and collaborate in tech revolution.

Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream
By Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson
Review via WGBH
On paper, America’s economy seems to be excelling. In March, the economy added 196,000 new jobs while the unemployment rate sat at 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, American startups like Uber and Pinterest are expected to go public with multi-million or higher valuations. But MIT economists Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson believe this hides a darker truth about the American economy: It’s slowly falling behind the rest of the world.
In their new book, “Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream,” Gruber and Johnson lay out their plan for how the United States can reclaim its mantle as a leader in not just gross domestic product, but also innovation and science. The key, they say, is government investment and encouragement in the scientific sector.

Evolution or Revolution?: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy after the Great Recession
Edited by Olivier Blanchard and Lawrence H. Summers
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
The Great Depression led to the Keynesian revolution and dramatic shifts in macroeconomic theory and macroeconomic policy. Similarly, the stagflation of the 1970s led to the adoption of the natural rate hypothesis and to a major reassessment of the role of macroeconomic policy. Should the financial crisis and the Great Recession lead to yet another major reassessment, to another intellectual revolution? Will it? If so, what form should it, or will it, take? These are the questions taken up in this book, in a series of contributions by policymakers and academics.

The Case for Dividend Growth: Investing in a Post-Crisis World
By David L. Bahnsen
Summary via publisher (Post Hill Press)
Both the tech bubble burst of 2000, and the financial crisis of 2008, poked significant holes in the primary investment belief of too many investors today—that one can just blindly withdraw from principal, and that equity returns will keep up. Too many investment advisors have taken the path of least resistance, not aware of the risk in systematically withdrawing from what, at times, will be a declining portfolio. Investors seeking to accumulate money for their future needs, and investors needing to withdraw money now for a present need, both have one thing in common: Dividend Growth investing represents a powerful weapon in the achievement of their objectives.