Book Bits: 16 April 2022

The Case for Long-Term Value Investing: A guide to the data and strategies that drive stock market success
Jim Cullen
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
Value investing moves in and out of favor, but the data doesn’t lie. It has always worked, and will continue to work — as long as investors apply a value discipline and invest for the long term.
In The Case for Long-Term Value Investing, experienced Wall Street pro Jim Cullen presents the eye-opening data that backs this up, explaining how investors can use the value approach for successful investing today, as well as sharing a wealth of fascinating stories from his time on the Street.

Pandemic, Inc.: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick
J. David McSwane
Review via Datebook
As McSwane traveled around the country during the worst of the pandemic, his ingenuity and legwork revealed that government agencies were buying safety equipment from fraudulent contractors. Swindlers, he found, were peddling counterfeit COVID tests and millions of masks they didn’t have. His work almost certainly saved lives.
“Pandemic, Inc.: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick” builds on his ProPublica reporting and features a host of would-be COVID profiteers, among them a military veteran imprisoned after McSwane unearthed his scheme, and a Bay Area entrepreneur. This startling, vital book deserves our attention, no matter how deep our COVID fatigue.

Just Keep Buying: Proven ways to save money and build your wealth
Nick Maggiulli
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
Everyone faces big questions when it comes to money: questions about saving, investing, and whether you’re getting it right with your finances. Unfortunately, many of the answers provided by the financial industry have been based on belief and conjecture rather than data and evidence—until now. In Just Keep Buying, hugely popular finance blogger Nick Maggiulli crunches the numbers to answer the biggest questions in personal finance and investing, while providing you with proven ways to build your wealth right away. You will learn why you need to save less than you think; why saving up cash to buy market dips isn’t a good idea; how to survive (and thrive) during a market crash; and much more.

Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath
Bill Browder
Review via The Washington Post
The massive economic sanctions brought against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine have not only punished Russian elites — they have also prompted many countries to examine their complicity in helping corrupt officials launder money and park assets abroad. Bill Browder’s new book, “Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath,” is an essential work by someone who understood long before the rest of the world did just how far corrupt Russian officials and businesspeople will go to defend their ill-gotten wealth, and how foreign lawyers, lobbyists and public relations firms enable them.

Visible Hand: A Wealth of Notions on the Miracle of the Market
Matthew Hennessey
Review via Forbes
Hennessey is no doubt correct in his expressed suspicion that “people are afraid of economics, or confused or intimidated by it,” just as he acknowledges he once was. Which leads to an obvious question: what opened Hennessey’s mind to a subject that had long intimidated him? The answer is human action, and it was his own. As he puts it, “I woke up one day and realized that all I’d been doing my whole life was acting like an economist; responding to incentives, weighing trade-offs, making decisions at the margin, and calculating the utility of everything from investing in my education to helping myself to a second scoop of strawberry ice cream.” Hennessey’s book explains economics through the rational (or irrational) individual in us all, and does so happily and properly free of charts, graphs, and any “whiff of math”; the latter another factor in the author’s own avoidance of a science that is anything but dismal for those who understand it. Hennessey obviously does.

Half-Earth Socialism: A Plan to Save the Future from Extinction, Climate Change and Pandemics
Troy Vettese and Drew Pendergrass
Summary via publisher (Verso Books)
Over the next generation, humanity will confront a dystopian future of climate disaster and mass extinction. Yet the only ‘solutions’ on offer are toothless cap-and-trade programmes, catastrophic geoengineering schemes, and privatized conservation, which will do nothing to reverse the damage suffered by the biosphere. Indeed, these mainstream approaches assume that hyper-consumerism in the Global North can continue unabated. It can’t. What we can do, environmental scholars Troy Vettese and Drew Pendergrass argue, is strive for a society able to ensure high living standards while stabilizing the environment: Half-Earth socialism.

Benjamin Franklin’s Last Bet: The Favorite Founder’s Divisive Death, Enduring Afterlife, and Blueprint for American Prosperity
Michael Meyer
Summary via publisher (Mariner Books)
Benjamin Franklin was not a gambling man. But at the end of his illustrious life, the Founder allowed himself a final wager on the survival of the United States: a gift of two thousand pounds to Boston and Philadelphia, to be lent out to tradesmen over the next two centuries to jump‑start their careers. Each loan would be repaid with interest over ten years. If all went according to Franklin’s inventive scheme, the accrued final payout in 1991 would be a windfall. In Benjamin Franklin’s Last Bet, Michael Meyer traces the evolution of these twin funds as they age alongside America itself, bankrolling woodworkers and silversmiths, trade schools and space races.

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