Book Bits: 13 August 2022

The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest
Edward Chancellor
Review via The Economist
The critics who label as artificial the low interest rates that have prevailed in the world economy in recent decades must therefore answer the question: low relative to what?
“The Price of Time” is the answer of Edward Chancellor, a historian and financier who has written a book by that name. Humans prefer jam today to jam tomorrow. Interest rates are the reward for deferring gratification, for renting out money that could have been spent today. When rates fall too low, grave consequences follow: financial instability, higher inequality and pain for savers. As he makes his case, Mr Chancellor’s panoptic survey of the history of interest, and what classical economists said about it, will not fail to dazzle. The argument, however, is seriously flawed.

Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us
Russ Roberts
Adaptation via The New York Times
I was trained as an economist at the University of Chicago. We were taught that economics is the guide to making rational choices in life. We were taught that everything has a price; everything involves giving up something to have something else. Nothing is of infinite value. But as I’ve studied the lives of some of history’s great thinkers, I have come to believe that when it comes to the big decisions of life, those principles can lead us astray.

The Lazarus Heist: From Hollywood to High Finance: Inside North Korea’s Global Cyber War
Geoff White
Review via Foreign Policy
“Remember the 11th of September 2001.” That chilling threat was posted on the internet after North Korea’s cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, which aimed to prevent the release of a movie that ends with the death of a fictitious version of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In his new book, The Lazarus Heist, investigative journalist Geoff White digs into the fascinating evolution of Pyongyang’s cyberactivities, from terrorism to sanctions evasion to other criminal activities. While the book reads like a typical Hollywood crime drama, in the end the good guys do not win.

Boundless: The Rise, Fall, and Escape of Carlos Ghosn
Nick Kostov and Sean McLain
Review via Jalopnik
The bonkers story of Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan has been an unending series of delights: The man who once brought Renault and Nissan together, the guy who seemed to stand at the very top of the auto industry, reduced to sneaking out of Japan hidden inside an instrument case. Now, an excerpt from a just-published book about Ghosn’s life and career sheds new light on the details of his ridiculous escape. Long story short, it was a debacle — and it’s a wonder Ghosn even made it.
Wall Street Journal reporters Nick Kostov and Sean McLain have just released Boundless: The Rise, Fall, and Escape of Carlos Ghosn, published by Harper Business. WSJ published an excerpt from the book today, covering the preparations ahead of the executive’s bonkers escape from house arrest in Tokyo. What a mess.

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