Book Bits: 19 September 2020

The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations
Daniel Yergin
Review via USA Today
At a time when solid facts and reasoned arguments are in retreat, Daniel Yergin rides to the rescue. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy savant is armed to the teeth with enough telling statistics to sink an oil tanker in “The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations.”
While most “experts” predicted a decade ago that peak oil production was imminent, to be followed by a slippery slope of declining supply, Yergin said they were wrong. As usual, he was right.
The big issue today is not supply, it’s demand. When will our voracious appetite peak for all that plentiful oil, gas and coal?

Money From Nothing: Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying About Debt and Learn to Love the Federal Reserve
Robert Hockett and Aaron James
Review via UCI
What if money could appear in our bank accounts out of thin air — without increased taxes, longer work hours, austerity measures or any other strings attached? Not only is this utopian premise entirely possible, it might be the norm in the very near future, argues UCI philosophy professor Aaron James in his new book, Money from Nothing: Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying About Debt and Learn to Love the Federal Reserve.

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger
Matthew Yglesias
Review via Axios
A new book argues the U.S. should aim for massive population growth through aggressive housing policy, enhanced support for families and a major increase in legal immigration… Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias identifies one of the few areas left where there is broad bipartisan agreement: China is challenging the U.S.’s place in the world and “America should aspire to be the greatest nation on Earth.”… I don’t expect to see a billion Americans any time soon, in part because global population trends are pointing toward an ultimately shrinking world. But proactively deciding to support more Americans would better prepare the U.S. for the future.

Outside the Box: How Globalization Changed from Moving Stuff to Spreading Ideas
Marc Levinson
Review via The Wall Street Journal
Free trade was an early casualty of Covid-19. Many countries promptly limited the export of medical supplies, food and even toilet paper. The restrictions contributed to a sharp decline in international commerce. By year’s end, trade is projected to be down 18% compared with 2019 and foreign direct investment down by as much as 40%. This drop comes at the end of a 10-year period in which both trade and foreign investment have been stagnant or falling as a share of global gross domestic product—a pace and pattern known as “slowbalization.”… Mr. Levinson says that globalization—a phenomenon celebrated for its broad economic benefits and, of late, lamented for its effects on domestic industries—is “far from dead.” It is, he writes, “entering a new phase . . . in which the world economy will still be bound closely together, but in ways different from what the experience of recent decades has taught us to expect.”

We Need To Talk: A Memoir About Wealth
Jennifer Risher
Review via The NY Post
Being extremely wealthy isn’t the carefree, champagne-soaked free-for-all you might imagine it to be — at least according to Jennifer Risher.
She and her husband, David, earned tens of millions of dollars in the tech world before the ages of 35, and suddenly found themselves in an elite tax bracket without a manual on how to navigate the potential pitfalls of isolation and strained social relationships.
“We see wealth from a really narrow perspective: the glitz, the glamour and the greed, but we don’t see the reality,” Risher, 55, told The Post. “Money is a taboo subject, but it really shouldn’t be.”

Ignore the Hype: Financial Strategies Beyond the Media-Driven Mayhem
Brian Perry
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Via powerful and unique insights, Ignore the Hype: Financial Strategies Beyond the Media-Driven Mayhem teaches readers how to keep their focus squarely on time-tested strategies for meeting their financial goals without getting distracted by a constant barrage of news headlines.

The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt
Sinan Aral
Excerpt via MIT
In his new book “The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health — And How We Must Adapt,” Aral, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, lays out the path to achieve the promise of social media. This includes understanding the forces at play and the science behind the Hype Machine, and what social media companies, policymakers, and users need to do to achieve the promise and avoid the peril of this new social order.

Space Is Open For Business: The Industry That Can Transform Humanity
Robert C. Jacobson
Author interview with Politico
“The space industry now is definitely $400 billion and there is good reason it can be much larger,” he says.
Jacobson interviewed more than 100 industry leaders and investors and describes the book as a “guidebook.” It offers a breakdown of space’s economic sectors, its emerging opportunities, and the benefits that a booming space economy can bring to people on Earth.

Detecting Regime Change in Computational Finance: Data Science, Machine Learning and Algorithmic Trading
Jun Chen and Edward P K Tsang
Summary via publisher (Chapman and Hall/CRC)
Based on interdisciplinary research into “Directional Change”, a new data-driven approach to financial data analysis, Detecting Regime Change in Computational Finance: Data Science, Machine Learning and Algorithmic Trading applies machine learning to financial market monitoring and algorithmic trading. Directional Change is a new way of summarising price changes in the market. Instead of sampling prices at fixed intervals (such as daily closing in time series), it samples prices when the market changes direction (“zigzags”). By sampling data in a different way, this book lays out concepts which enable the extraction of information that other market participants may not be able to see.

If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future
Jill Lepore
Review via The New York Times
Simulmatics, which opened up shop in 1959 and ceased operations in 1970, was the brainchild of a backslapping, glad-handing, résumé-faking huckster named Ed Greenfield. Frustrated that Adlai Stevenson, his preferred presidential candidate, kept losing, Greenfield dreamed of using a combination of “information extraction” and “voter prediction” to finally lead Stevenson, “the best man, even though he wasn’t the most electable man,” to victory. Stevenson, of course, didn’t even win the 1960 Democratic nomination — but no matter; by that time, Greenfield’s shop was up and running.

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