Book Bits | 15 August 2015

Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets
By John Plender
Review via The Economist
Worries about the impact of economic inequality on social cohesion lend new urgency to moral questions about markets. But, as John Plender points out in his new book, “Capitalism”, discontents about its effects are as old as the world’s most powerful -ism itself. The pursuit of profit has been “unloved” since Socrates declared that “The more [men] think of making a fortune, the less they think of virtue.” Anti-business sentiment characterises the lampooning of Trimalchio’s feast in Petronius’s “Satyricon”, and persists through Molière’s miserly 17th-century lucre-seekers to the portrayals by Charles Dickens and Emile Zola of dreadful 19th-century bosses and the modern incarnation of greed on the screen, Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street”.

The Sudden Wealth Solution: 12 Principles to Transform Sudden Wealth Into Lasting Wealth
By Robert Pagliarini
Reference via CNBC
Robert Pagliarini, a certified financial planner whose firm, Pacifica Wealth Advisors, specializes in serving clients experiencing a windfall, also cautions against too many big decisions.
The author of “The Sudden Wealth Solution: 12 Principles to Transform Sudden Wealth Into Lasting Wealth,” Pagliarini also has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and explained that sudden money often leads to depression.

Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses
By E. Freya Williams
Review via Publishers Weekly
In this well-documented but repetitive book, Williams identifies and analyzes nine different companies, all worth at least $1 billion, that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. Arguing against economist Milton Friedman, Williams asserts that altruism and profit are not mutually exclusive; rather, companies such as Ikea, Natura, Tesla, and Unilever can and often do outperform solely profit-oriented competitors while being motivated by idealistic goals. But developing and running such a business is not as simple as PR-driven “greenwashing.” It requires counterintuitive product development with end results so preferable to competitors that the innovation does indeed—to use a common buzzword—disrupt an entire industry.

Gold Fever: One Man’s Adventures on the Trail of the Gold Rush
By Steve Boggan
Review via The Independent
On Thursday 13 March 2008, the price of gold rose higher than $1,000 an ounce for the first time since the Egyptians started mining the precious metal some 6,000 years ago. Within three years it had almost doubled its value again.
California, home to the great gold rush of 1849, found itself once more subject to an inward migration of the determined, the deluded and the desperate, armed with maps, gold pans and blind optimism, all of them to a greater or lesser degree infected with a sickness known as gold fever.
Among their number this time around is a diffident Englishman named Steve Boggan.