Book Bits | 18 October 2014

Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ian Klaus
Summary via publisher (Yale University Press)
Vice is endemic to Western capitalism, according to this fascinating, wildly entertaining, often startling history of modern finance. Ian Klaus’s Forging Capitalism demonstrates how international financial affairs in the nineteenth century were conducted not only by gentlemen as a noble pursuit but also by connivers, thieves, swindlers, and frauds who believed that no risk was too great and no scheme too outrageous if the monetary reward was substantial enough. Taken together, the grand deceptions of the ambitious schemers and the determined efforts to guard against them have been instrumental in creating the financial establishments of today.

Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security
by Janine Wedel
Excerpt via Salon
Whether it’s the behavior of public figures or the behavior of public institutions, the new corruption is anchored in unaccountability. Unaccountability, as we shall see in the next chapter, is structured into the DNA of many of today’s corporate and governmental organizations. It is an essential but incomplete condition for the new corruption—the violation of the public trust.

You Only Have to Be Right Once: The Unprecedented Rise of the Instant Tech Billionaires
by Randall Lane
Summary via publisher (Portfolio)
In 2007, twenty-one-year old David Karp launched Tumblr, a simple micro-blogging platform, on a whim. By 2012, it had become one of the top ten online destinations, drawing 170 million visitors. By 2013, Yahoo had acquired Tumblr for over $1 billion. Just like that, a kid who hadn’t even earned his high school diploma was worth over a quarter billion dollars. And he’s not the only one . . .

Cultures of Financialization:
Fictitious Capital in Popular Culture and Everyday Life
by Max Haiven
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
Financialization not only refers to the incredible power of the financial sector over economics and politics; it also refers to the creep of financial ideas, metaphors, narratives and measurements throughout society and culture more broadly. Examining a wide range of examples and case studies, Max Haiven argues that, at the same time that popular culture and everyday life are increasingly saturated by a financial idiom, the financial sector as a whole is more deeply invested than ever in everyday life and culture writ large. From the security culture of Walmart to children’s play with Pokémon trading cards, from the hype around the ‘creative economy’ to the economics of austerity and precariousness, this book seeks to reveal financialization at work where we might least expect to find it. In an age when seemingly imaginary financial assets determine the fates of whole economies, Haiven suggests that we take the idea of ‘fictitious capital’ seriously as a way to understand the power of finance, and what might be done to stop it.

The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism
by Cathy Clark, et al.
Summary via publisher (Jossey-Bass/Wiley)
The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism offers precise details on what, exactly, impact investing entails, embodied in the experiences and best and proven practices of some of the world’s most successful impact investors, across asset classes, geographies and areas of impact. The book discusses the parameters of impact investing in unprecedented detail and clarity, providing both context and tools to those eager to engage in the generational shift in the way finance and business is being approached in the new era of Collaborative Capitalism.