Book Bits |17 December 2016

The Activist Director: Lessons from the Boardroom and the Future of the Corporation
By Ira M. Millstein
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
Some of the worst corporate meltdowns over the past sixty years can be traced to passive directors who favored operational shortcuts over quality growth strategies. Thinking primarily about placating institutional investors, selective stockholders, proxy advisors, and corporate management, these inattentive and deferential board members have relied on short-term share price increases to sustain their companies long term. Driven by a desire for prosperity, not posterity, these actions can doom any company.

Endangered Economies: How the Neglect of Nature Threatens Our Prosperity
By Geoffrey Heal
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
In the decades since Geoffrey Heal began his field-defining work in environmental economics, one central question has animated his research: “Can we save our environment and grow our economy?” This issue has become only more urgent in recent years with the threat of climate change, the accelerating loss of ecosystems, and the rapid industrialization of the developing world. Reflecting on a lifetime of experience not only as a leading voice in the field, but as a green entrepreneur, activist, and advisor to governments and global organizations, Heal clearly and passionately demonstrates that the only way to achieve long-term economic growth is to protect our environment.

Easy Money and the American Real Estate Ponzi Scheme: From your pocket to theirs, the insiders’ view of the Great Housing Recession, and how it’s happening again.
By John Agostinelli and Christopher Michaud
Summary via publisher (Koehler Books)
Politicians, bureaucrats, home buyers and housing activists are at it again. History is repeating itself right in front of us, and if we do nothing to stop the volatility in real estate markets, we risk the impending doom of the next housing collapse. Industry experts John Agostinelli and Chris Michaud had front row seats during the Great Recession. They witnessed the nonsensical lending practices that blew up the bubble and created disastrous consequences for government endorsed loans, and hurt low to moderate income people and the communities they lived in. Not only did government create the problem, their reaction to the crisis made matters worse.

The Banking Swindle: Money Creation and the State
By Kerry Bolton
Summary via publisher (Black House Publishing)
The Banking Swindle is not an economic textbook filled with technical jargon that only serves to obscure important issues. Rather, this is a book intended to explain in a straight-forward manner the way private banking interests – which have no loyalty to anything other than to greed – create credit and money as profit-making commodities which has driven individuals, businesses and entire states to ruin through debt. As importantly, The Banking Swindle examines the many communities and states that have rejected the fraudulent banking system, and sometimes had to fight to do so, and brought prosperity where there was destitution, by taking issuing money and credit for their legitimate purpose: as mere tokens for the exchange of goods and work, debt-free.

Data Wrangling with R
By Bradley Boehmke
Summary via publisher (Springer)
Presents techniques that allow users to spend less time obtaining, cleaning, manipulating, and preprocessing data and more time visualizing, analyzing, and presenting data via a step-by-step tutorial approach. Includes a wide range of programming activities, from understanding basic data objects in R to writing functions, applying loops, and webscraping. Beneficial to all levels of R programmers: Beginner R programmers will gain a basic understanding of the functionality of R along with learning how to work with data using R, while intermediate and advanced R programmers will find the early chapters reiterating established knowledge and will learn newer and more efficient data wrangling techniques in the mid and later chapters