Book Bits | 18 August 2018

Land of the Fee: Hidden Costs and the Decline of the American Middle Class
By Devin Fergus
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Politicians, economists, and the media have put forth no shortage of explanations for the mounting problem of wealth inequality – a loss of working class jobs, a rise in finance-driven speculative capitalism, and a surge of tax policy decisions that benefit the ultra-rich, among others. While these arguments focus on the macro problems that contribute to growing inequality, they overlook one innocuous but substantial contributor to the widening divide: the explosion of fees accompanying virtually every transaction that people make. As Devin Fergus shows in Land of the Fee, these perfectly legal fees are buried deep within the verbose agreements between vendors and consumers – agreements that few people fully read or comprehend. The end effect, Fergus argues, is a massive transfer of wealth from the many to the few: large banking corporations, airlines, corporate hotel chains, and other entities of vast wealth.

Hard Times: Economic Depressions in America
By Richard Striner
Summary via publisher (Rowman & Littlefield)
Hard Times presents a comprehensive account of economic depressions in America, from colonial times to the “great recession” that began in 2008. Written in crisp prose for a general audience, the book synthesizes a narrative account—presenting the known facts about how particular depressions started, the effects upon people in different walks of life, the policy debates about what (if anything) to do in order to ameliorate the situation, and how these depressions ended—with analytical commentary on the economic patterns underlying and transcending depressions and the debates among economists and policymakers in regard to their causes. While these economic downturns have created suffering and hardship, Striner also conveys how Americans have always endured and rebounded from hard times.

The Best Investment Writing – Volume 2: Selected writing from leading investors and authors
Edited by Meb Faber
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
The Best Investment Writing is back for a second year, with 41 hand-selected articles. These are the best recent pieces of investment writing from some of the most respected money managers and investment researchers in the world. You’ll get valuable insights into:
* Why $1 trillion will flow into Chinese stock markets
*How share buybacks are good for dividend yields and per share growth
*The truth about cryptocurrencies
*Why it’s a myth that bonds lose value if rates rise
*The four pillars of retirement income

Brexit and Beyond: Rethinking the Futures of Europe
Edited by Benjamin Martill and Uta Staiger
Summary via publisher (UCL Press)
Brexit will have significant consequences for the country, for Europe, and for global order. And yet much discussion of Brexit in the UK has focused on the causes of the vote and on its consequences for the future of British politics. This volume examines the consequences of Brexit for the future of Europe and the European Union, adopting an explicitly regional and future-oriented perspective missing from many existing analyses. Drawing on the expertise of 28 leading scholars from a range of disciplines, Brexit and Beyond offers various different perspectives on the future of Europe, charting the likely effects of Brexit across a range of areas, including institutional relations, political economy, law and justice, foreign affairs, democratic governance, and the idea of Europe itself.

Enjoyable Econometrics
By Philip Hans Franses
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
Econometrics can at first appear a highly technical subject, but it can also equip the practitioner with a useful skillset of smart ways to formulate research questions and collect data. Enjoyable Econometrics applies econometric methods to a variety of unusual and engaging research questions, often beyond the realm of economics, demonstrating the great potential of using such methods to understand a wide range of phenomena. Unlike the typical textbook approach, Enjoyable Econometrics follows in the footsteps of Freakonomics by posing interesting questions first before introducing the methodology to find the answers. Therefore, rather than equation-heavy sections based around complex methodologies, the reader is presented with chapters on ‘Money’ and ‘Fashion, Art and Music’.