Book Bits | 17 June 2017

A History of the United States in Five Crashes: Stock Market Meltdowns That Defined a Nation
By Scott Nations
Review via Publishers Weekly
Nations (The Complete Book of Option Spreads and Combinations), a CNBC contributor, offers a fascinating look at five major stock market crashes: the Panic of 1907, Black Tuesday, Black Monday, the Great Recession, and the Flash Crash. Nations observes that stock market crises mean more than just tanking investment accounts. They also stop people from investing, impacting job availability and the economy as a whole. While these failures don’t have a single cause that is easy to recognize beforehand, he asserts that all five studied here share important indicators.

Insatiable: The Rise and Rise of the Greedocracy
By Stuart Sim
Summary via publisher (Reaktion Books)
Insatiable exposes the damaging effects of greed in both public and private life, showing how the actions of a socially irresponsible ‘greedocracy’ are systematically undermining our democratic institutions. Ranging across politics, economic theory, the financial world, healthcare, the food industry, sport, religion and the creative arts, it demonstrates how deeply embedded the greed imperative is in human psychology, and suggests various strategies for dealing with it in our daily experience.

One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries
Adaptation via The New Yorker
Operation Goldfinger represented the logical culmination of a government obsession with not having enough gold. The post-war global economy was expanding much faster than the gold supply that propped it up. Dollars freely convertible to gold were the underpinning of the world’s monetary system, and President John F. Kennedy—and many others—feared that if holders of dollars and other U.S. securities were to cash in their paper for gold, there wouldn’t be enough gold to exchange, and a global crisis could ensue. In a private 1962 conversation with the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Kennedy framed the shortage of monetary gold starkly: “My God, this is the time . . . if everyone wants gold, we’re all going to be ruined because there is not enough gold to go around.”

Hayek vs Keynes: A Battle of Ideas
By Thomas Hoerber
Summary via publisher (Reaktion Books)
Hayek vs Keynes: A Battle of Ideas offers a clear historical account of the works of the two great totems of modern economic thought: Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money were written against a background of devastation following the First World War. Thomas Hoerber explains the historical context in which the books were written and shows how lessons can be drawn for current economic and political phenomena, such as the recent financial crisis, globalization and European integration.

Good Stocks Cheap: Value Investing with Confidence for a Lifetime of Stock Market Outperformance
By Kenneth Jeffrey Marshall
Summary via publisher (McGraw Hill)
Marshall’s proven framework integrates the three disciplines that successful value investors rely upon—finance, strategy, and psychology—to help you crush standard returns over the long run. This model works in overheated markets by showing which companies are likely to excel operationally over time; and in downturns, by revealing which of these outperformers are most underpriced and best to buy.