Book Bits |13 August 2016

Inside the Investments of Warren Buffett: Twenty Cases
By Yefei Lu
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
Since the 1950s, Warren Buffett and his partners have backed some of the twentieth century’s most profitable, trendsetting companies. But how did they know they were making the right investments? What did Buffet and his partners look for in an up-and-coming company, and how can others replicate their approach? A gift to Buffett followers who have long sought a pattern to the investor’s success, Inside the Investments of Warren Buffett presents the most detailed analysis to date of Buffet’s long-term investment portfolio.

The Curse of Cash
By Ken Rogoff
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
The world is drowning in cash—and it’s making us poorer and less safe. In The Curse of Cash, Kenneth Rogoff, one of the world’s leading economists, makes a persuasive and fascinating case for an idea that until recently would have seemed outlandish: getting rid of most paper money. Even as people in advanced economies are using less paper money, there is more cash in circulation—a record $1.4 trillion in U.S. dollars alone, or $4,200 for every American, mostly in $100 bills. And the United States is hardly exceptional. So what is all that cash being used for? The answer is simple: a large part is feeding tax evasion, corruption, terrorism, the drug trade, human trafficking, and the rest of a massive global underground economy… As Rogoff shows, paper money can also cripple monetary policy… The Curse of Cash offers a plan for phasing out most paper money—while leaving small-denomination bills and coins in circulation indefinitely—and addresses the issues the transition will pose, ranging from fears about privacy and price stability to the need to provide subsidized debit cards for the poor.

The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
Summary via publisher (W.W. Norton)
In 2010, the 2008 global financial crisis morphed into the “eurocrisis.” It has not abated. The 19 countries of Europe that share the euro currency—the eurozone—have been rocked by economic stagnation and debt crises. Some countries have been in depression for years while the governing powers of the eurozone have careened from emergency to emergency, most notably in Greece. In The Euro, Nobel Prize–winning economist and best-selling author Joseph E. Stiglitz dismantles the prevailing consensus around what ails Europe, demolishing the champions of austerity while offering a series of plans that can rescue the continent—and the world—from further devastation.

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon
By Rosa Brooks
Review via Slate
Rosa Brooks’ experience at the Pentagon, where she was a counselor to the undersecretary of defense for policy, serves as the foundation for her new book, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon. Brooks traces the military’s growing role in American life, and the dangers it presents for law, accountability, and international relations. As she writes in the book, “Most of the institutions and laws designed to protect rights and prevent the arbitrary or abusive exercise of state power rest on the assumption that we can readily distinguish between war and peace.” Especially after 9/11, this ability to distinguish between the two has faded away, with what Brooks sees as profound consequences.

Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy
By David Fleming, edited by Shaun Chamberlin
Summary via publisher (Chelsea Green Publishing)
Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That hardback consists of four hundred and seventy-two interlinked dictionary entries, inviting readers to choose their own path through its radical vision.
Recognizing that Lean Logic’s sheer size and unusual structure can be daunting, Fleming’s long-time collaborator Shaun Chamberlin has selected and edited one of these potential narratives to create Surviving the Future. The content, rare insights, and uniquely enjoyably writing style remain Fleming’s, but are presented here at a more accessible paperback-length and in conventional read-it-front-to-back format.
The subtitle—Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy—hints at Fleming’s vision. He believed that the market economy will not survive its inherent flaws beyond the early decades of this century, and that its failure will bring great challenges, but he did not dwell on this: “We know what we need to do. We need to build the sequel, to draw on inspiration which has lain dormant, like the seed beneath the snow.”