Book Bits |15 October 2016

The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan
By Sebastian Mallaby
Review via The Economist
The former chairman of the Federal Reserve was once a hero. Now he is being called a villain. Yet it is too soon to be sure what history will say about him. In a superb new book, the product of more than five years’ research, Sebastian Mallaby helps history make up its mind about Alan Greenspan, the man hailed in 2000 by Phil Gramm, a former senator, as “the best central banker we have ever had”, but now blamed for the financial crisis of 2007-08. Even today, Mr Greenspan, who famously once told Congress that “If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said”, remains a paradoxical figure.

Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi
By Eswar S Prasad
Reference via Bloomberg
The yuan’s Oct. 1 addition to the International Monetary Fund reserve currency basket along with the dollar, euro, yen and pound marks a key accomplishment for People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan that will lock in financial reforms.
That’s according to Eswar Prasad, a former head of the IMF’s China division whose book “Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi” [was published] Oct. 11.
Joining the IMF Special Drawing Rights basket reflects rising economic clout after years of financial liberalization, said Prasad, who is now a professor of trade policy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. While the yuan will erode the dollar’s dominance, it won’t challenge it among global investors seeking a safe haven, he said.

A Capitalist’s Lament: How Wall Street Is Fleecing You and Ruining America
By Leland Faust
Summary via publisher (Skyhorse)
Leland Faust unmasks Wall Street’s unsavory tactics in powerful detail by giving readers a high-level view of how the financial services industry misleads them, overcharges them, and exposes them to needless risk. He documents the financial industry’s alluring come-ons, airbrushed risks, high-stakes gambling, half-truths, misleading statements, outlandish predictions, tricks to overcharge customers, bad deals, and outright fraud by the most prominent and renowned of Wall Street’s players.

The Nobel Factor: The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy, and the Market Turn
By Avner Offer and Gabriel Söderberg
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Economic theory may be speculative, but its impact is powerful and real. Since the 1970s, it has been closely associated with a sweeping change around the world—the “market turn.” This is what Avner Offer and Gabriel Söderberg call the rise of market liberalism, a movement that, seeking to replace social democracy, holds up buying and selling as the norm for human relations and society. Our confidence in markets comes from economics, and our confidence in economics is underpinned by the Nobel Prize in Economics, which was first awarded in 1969. Was it a coincidence that the market turn and the prize began at the same time? The Nobel Factor, the first book to describe the origins and power of the most important prize in economics, explores this and related questions by examining the history of the prize, the history of economics since the prize began, and the simultaneous struggle between market liberals and social democrats in Sweden, Europe, and the United States.

The Global Financial Crisis and Its Aftermath: Hidden Factors in the Meltdown
Edited by A. G. Malliaris, et al.
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
In The Global Financial Crisis, contributors argue that the complexity of the Global Financial Crisis challenges researchers to offer more comprehensive explanations by extending the scope and range of their traditional investigations. To achieve this, the volume views the financial crisis simultaneously through three different lenses—economic, psychological, and social values. Contributors offer a constructive methodology suitable for exploring financial crises. They recognize how current economic analysis did not prepare academic economists, business economists, traders, and regulators to anticipate economic and financial crises. So, they search more extensively within the broader discipline of economics for ideas related to crises but neglected perhaps because they were not mathematically rigorous.

Global Risk Agility and Decision Making: Organizational Resilience in the Era of Man-Made Risk
By Daniel Wagner and Dante Disparte
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
In Global Risk Agility and Decision Making, Daniel Wagner and Dante Disparte, two leading authorities in global risk management, make a compelling case for the need to bring traditional approaches to risk management and decision making into the twenty-first century. Based on their own deep and multi-faceted experience in risk management across numerous firms in dozens of countries, the authors call for a greater sense of urgency from corporate boards, decision makers, line managers, policymakers, and risk practitioners to address and resolve the plethora of challenges facing today’s private and public sector organizations.

The Great Disruption: Competing and Surviving in the Second Wave of the Industrial Revolution
By Rick Smith with Mitch Free
Summary via publisher (Thomas Dunne Books)
The Great Disruption reveals how 3D printing manufacturing will transform the world in the same way that Henry Ford’s Model T upended transportation or Gutenberg’s printing press started an information revolution. It traces both the impact of this disruption as it rapidly spreads around the world and affects every kind of industry imaginable, while detailing specific steps that can and should be taken right now to prepare.

Reinventing Prosperity: Managing Economic Growth to Reduce Unemployment, Inequality and Climate Change
By Graeme Maxton and Jorgen Randers
Summary via publisher (Greystone Books)
In Reinventing Prosperity, Graeme Maxton and Jorgen Randers offer a new approach with thirteen recommendations that should be possible to implement around the world. This book addresses the forty-year-old growth/no-growth debate by explaining how it is possible to reduce unemployment, poverty, inequality, and the pace of climate change and still have economic growth—if we want.