Book Bits | 18 April 2020

The Money Hackers: How a Group of Misfits Took on Wall Street and Changed Finance Forever
By Daniel P. Simon
Summary via publisher (HarperCollins)
Every day, businesses, investors, and consumers are grappling with the seismic changes technology has brought to the banking and finance industry. The Money Hackers is the dramatic story of fintech’s major players and explores how these disruptions are transforming even money itself.
Whether you’ve heard of fintech or not, it’s already changing your life. Have you ever “Venmoed” someone? Do you think of investing in Bitcoin-even though you can’t quite explain what it is? If you’ve deposited a check using your iPhone, that’s fintech. And if you’ve gone to a bank branch and discovered it has been closed and shuttered for good, odds are that’s because of fintech too. The Money Hackers focuses on some of fintech’s most powerful disruptors — a ragtag collection of financial outsiders and savants-and uses their incredible stories to explain not just how the technology works, but how the Silicon Valley thinking behind the technology, ideas like friction, hedonic adaptation, democratization, and disintermediation, is having a drastic effect on the entire banking and finance industry.

The Trick: Why Some People Can Make Money and Other People Can’t
By William Leith
Review via The Spectator
‘Beauty is pain,’ the model Gigi Hadid asserts. She’s one of the successful, rich people quizzed by William Leith in The Trick: Why Some People Can Make Money and Other People Can’t. We all know a few of the tricks of getting rich. You start by avoiding noble, important professions that benefit everyone but pay poorly: primary school teacher, nurse, book reviewer. Those of my friends and family who’ve made money (although none has made it to rich) went into banking and business. Those who haven’t went into teaching, academic research and museum curating. That much is obvious. Has Leith unearthed a magic formula?
His book is part Hunter S. Thompson, part Montaigne: a blend of gonzo journalism and rambling reflection interspersed with learned references. In this marriage of memoir and essay, Leith is a sort of stoner Marx contemplating money — which is ‘weird’.

Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life
By Ozan Varol
Review via Publishers Weekly
Aerospace engineer Varol examines the methods and strategies found in rocket science and applies them to everyday life in his charming debut. Looking for parallels between scientific breakthroughs and achieving personal success, he begins with “launch,” instructing readers to harness the power of uncertainty and ignite breakthroughs with thought experiments, while also counseling not to be afraid of the unknown. He suggests writing out concerns and uncertainties to ratchet down stress levels, comparing “redundancies” within space missions to personal situations by asking questions such as “what will you do if your household loses a source of income? The system must be designed to continue operating even if a component fails.”

Three Blind Mice: How Today’s Financial Planning Process Leads Your Money to a Mousetrap
By Scott S. McLean
Summary via press release
The book spotlights the communication challenges the financial planning industry faces when it engages with clients – specifically, the common disconnects between a financial advisor, tax accountant, and attorney all serving as fiduciaries for the client. Author, Scott McLean believes, “the problem is these key consultants rarely consult with each other about you. You’re typically working with “three blind mice.” He added, “Although unintentional, this can end up being very real and extremely costly to the client.”

Freedom or Equality: The Key to Prosperity Through Social Capitalism
By Daniel Lacalle
Summary via publisher (Post Hill Press)
Capitalism offers greater prosperity and opportunity for everyone, while socialism, unnecessary interventionism, and other choices inevitably fail. But capitalism is quickly falling out of favor with the middle class in the Western world. Fortunately, it can be fixed. The next decades will present numerous challenges: exponentially accelerating technology and use of robots, an aging population, repressive taxation, and the sustainability of education and health care costs—to name just a few. Freedom or Equality addresses those challenges while presenting a fresh examination of Social Capitalism—a moderate option between extreme solutions of all sorts that can deliver superior growth and prosperity worldwide.

Markets, Minds, and Money: Why America Leads the World in University Research
By Miguel Urquiola
Summary via publisher (Harvard University Press)
American education has its share of problems, but it excels in at least one area: university-based research. That’s why American universities have produced more Nobel Prize winners than those of the next twenty-nine countries combined. Economist Miguel Urquiola argues that the principal source of this triumph is a free-market approach to higher education.

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