Book Bits: 15 January 2022

The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy
Christopher Leonard
Excerpt via Politico
Between 2008 and 2014, the Federal Reserve printed more than $3.5 trillion in new bills. To put that in perspective, it’s roughly triple the amount of money that the Fed created in its first 95 years of existence. Three centuries’ worth of growth in the money supply was crammed into a few short years. The money poured through the veins of the financial system and stoked demand for assets like stocks, corporate debt and commercial real estate bonds, driving up prices across markets. Hoenig was the one Fed leader who voted consistently against this course of action, starting in 2010. In doing so, he pitted himself against the Fed’s powerful chair at the time, Ben Bernanke, who was widely regarded as a hero for the ambitious rescue plans he designed and oversaw.

Driverless Finance: Fintech’s Impact on Financial Stability
Hilary J. Allen
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
Everyone is talking about fintech, and they’re usually saying good things. Driverless Finance provides a balance to that conversation, exploring the threats that different fintech innovations pose for our financial system. With in-depth and accessible descriptions of new financial technologies and business models – ranging from distributed ledgers to machine learning, cryptoassets to robo-investing – this book allows readers to think more critically about fintech, and about how the law should respond to it.

Making Numbers Count: The Art and Science of Communicating Numbers
Chip Heath and Karla Starr
Summary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
Understanding numbers is essential—but humans aren’t built to understand them. Until very recently, most languages had no words for numbers greater than five—anything from six to infinity was known as “lots.” While the numbers in our world have gotten increasingly complex, our brains are stuck in the past. How can we translate millions and billions and milliseconds and nanometers into things we can comprehend and use? Author Chip Heath has excelled at teaching others about making ideas stick and here, in Making Numbers Count, he outlines specific principles that reveal how to translate a number into our brain’s language.

The Capitalist and the Activist: Corporate Social Activism and the New Business of Change
Tom C. W. Lin
Review via Kirkus Reviews
A legal scholar examines the growing phenomenon of corporate activism.
In this debut book, Lin—a law professor at Temple University and Academic Fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Law, Economics & Finance—suggests that “too often the stories of activists and capitalists are told as disparate, unrelated stories of distinct tribes.” With an expert’s grasp on current trends in corporate America, the author instead sees the “new reality of corporate social activism” and the “interplay between capitalists and activists” as an important 21st-century development. Nearly every major corporation, for instance, has formal “social responsibility programs,” and Fortune 500 companies have pumped billions of dollars into these campaigns since 2020 alone.

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