Book Bits | 19 March 2016

Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever
By Lawrence B. Lindsey
Review via Kirkus Reviews
In this bellicose case for the protection of liberty as envisioned in 1776 by the Founding Fathers, Lindsey (The Growth Experiment Revisited: Why Lower, Simpler Taxes Really Are America’s Best Hope for Recovery, 2013, etc.), CEO of the Lindsey Group, a global consulting firm, and former director of the National Economic Council, argues that there has always been a ruling class in society comprising individuals who think they are “superior beings placed on earth to be its rulers.” Acting out of a need to seize and wield power, these politicians and bureaucrats spend their lives ensconced in government, disguised as humble public servants interested in serving the less fortunate. They are actually focused solely on consolidating their own power and telling others how to live. Today, in the United States, these rulers deem themselves progressive, or liberals, and “smarter than a group they term conservatives.” Their progressive ideology, writes the author, “dominates our society.” Thus, to the probable surprise of many liberal readers who believe that the wealthy elite known as the 1 percent has America in shackles, Lindsey suggests that progressives are the culprits behind our current woes.

Parallax of Growth: The Philosophy of Ecology and Economy
By Ole Bjerg
Summary via publisher (Polity)
Parallax of Growth explores the ideas of economy and ecology and the factors that have put them on a collision course. Bjerg argues that our current mode of economic organization is characterized by an inherent debt drive , whereby the creation of money through the issuance of commercial bank credit has locked our economy into a vicious circle of forced growth and increasing debt. Parallax of Growth is not a catalogue of solutions to the ecological or the economic crisis. The book aims to shift the inquiry from what shall we do? to why have we not already done it? In order to address the challenges of our contemporary times of crisis, we need to understand how the idea of growth is deeply ingrained in the ideology as well as the organization of our society. The book aims to open the space for philosophical thinking about this important issue.

The Future of Pension Management: Integrating Design, Governance, and Investing
By Keith P. Ambachtsheer
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
The Future of Pension Management offers a progress report from the field, using actual case studies from around the world. In the mid-70s, Peter Drucker predicted that demographic dynamics would eventually turn pensions into a major societal issue; in 2007, author Keith Ambachsheer’s book Pension Revolution laid out the ways in which Drucker’s predictions had come to pass. This book provides a fresh look at the situation on the ground, and details the encouraging changes that have taken place in pension management concepts and practices. The challenges identified in 2007 are being addressed, and this report shows how design, management, and investment innovation have led to measurably better pension outcomes.

Economic Forecasting
By Graham Elliott and Allan Timmermann
Excerpt via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Whenever a forecast is being constructed or evaluated, an overriding concern revolves around the practical problem that the best forecasting model is not only unknown but also unlikely to be known well enough to even correctly specify forecasting equations up to a set of unknown parameters. We view this as the only reasonable description of the forecaster’s problem. Some methods do claim to find the correct model (oracle methods) as the sample gets very large. However, in any problem with a finite sample there is always a set of models—as opposed to a single model—that are consistent with the data. Moreover, in many situations the datagenerating process changes over time, further emphasizing the difficulty in obtaining very large samples of observations on which to base a model. These foundations—using misspecified models to forecast outcomes generated by a process that may be evolving over time—generate many of the complications encountered in forecasting. If the true models were fully known apart from the values of the parameters, Bayesian methods could be used to construct density and point forecasts that, for a given loss function, would be difficult or impossible to beat in practice.

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy–And How to Make Them Work for You
By Sangeet Paul Choudary, et al.
Summary via publisher (Norton)
A practical guide to the new economy that is transforming the way we live, work, and play. Uber. Airbnb. Amazon. Apple. PayPal. All of these companies disrupted their markets when they launched. Today they are industry leaders. What’s the secret to their success? These cutting-edge businesses are built on platforms: two-sided markets that are revolutionizing the way we do business. Written by three of the most sought-after experts on platform businesses, Platform Revolution is the first authoritative, fact-based book on platform models. Whether platforms are connecting sellers and buyers, hosts and visitors, or drivers with people who need a ride, Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary reveal the what, how, and why of this revolution and provide the first “owner’s manual” for creating a successful platform business.