Book Bits | 2 April 2016

Fed Power: How Finance Wins
By Lawrence Jacobs and Desmond King
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
The Federal Reserve is the most powerful central bank in the world. Without its central bank, America would be subject to devastating fluctuations in currency value and chronic economic instability. To stabilize the economy, the Fed adjusts interest rates and intervenes in the economy more directly when appropriate. According to most Fed observers, it as an impartial referee exercising its independence free from political interference in order to advance the best interests of America. Its actions during the Great Recession were heroic, saving the American and indeed the world economy from a far worse fate.

American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper
By Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
Summary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
From the groundbreaking author team behind the bestselling Winner-Take-All Politics, a timely and topical work that examines what’s good for American business and what’s good for Americans—and why those interests are misaligned. In Winner-Take-All Politics, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy. Now in American Amnesia, they trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.

The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does
By George Gilder
Summary via publisher (Regnery)
Why do conservatives have such a hard time winning the economic debate in the court of public opinion? Simple, George Gilder says: conservatives misunderstand economics almost as badly as liberals do. Republicans have been running on tax cut proposals since the era of Harding and Coolidge without seriously addressing the key problems of a global economy in decline. Enough is enough. Gilder, author of New York Times bestseller Wealth and Poverty, proposes a completely new framework for understanding economic growth that will replace failed 20th century conservative economics and turn the economic debate—and the country—around.

Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization
By Branko Milanovic
Review via The Economist
It’s a golden age for studying inequality. Thomas Piketty, a French economist, set the benchmark in 2014 when his book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, was published in English and became a bestseller. The book mapped the contours of the crisis with a sweeping theory of economic history. Inequality, which had been on the wane from the 1930s until the 1970s, had risen sharply back toward the high levels of the Industrial Revolution, he argued. Now Branko Milanovic, an economist at the Luxembourg Income Study Centre and the City University of New York, has written a comprehensive follow-up. It reinforces how little is really known about economic forces of long duration.

Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
By Don Watkins and Yaron Brook
Q&A with co-author (Watkins) via Forbes
Q: You write,  “the forces that have made modern life possible go hand in hand with enormous economic inequality.” Please explain.
A: We have seen an amazing increase in our standard of living over the last hundred fifty years or so, and any economic discussion has to start by asking: What made that possible? It was not physical labor. Marx’s arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, muscles did not make Manhattan.
What transformed human life was the intellectual efforts of inventors, entrepreneurs and financiers who used their minds to discover and implement new technologies and productive processes.

The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation
By Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker
Review via Publishers Weekly
The authors make a strong case that a renaissance in the development and manufacturing of “chips, new materials, and biosciences” is happening not in tech or major urban centers, but in reclaimed factories and settings like the revitalized American Tobacco Campus in the North Carolina Research Triangle. For anyone looking at trends in technology or manufacturing, or at the future of global business, this insightful work will provide food for thought.

Humanitarian Economics
By Gilles Carbonnier
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
While the booming humanitarian sector faces daunting challenges, humanitarian economics emerges as a new field of study and practice–one that encompasses the economics and political economy of war, disaster, terrorism and humanitarianism. Carbonnier’s book is the first to present humanitarian economics to a wide readership, defining its parameters, explaining its utility and convincing us why it matters. Among the issues he discusses are: how are emotions and altruism incorporated within a rational-choice framework? How do the economics of war and terrorism inform humanitarians’ negotiations with combatants, and shed light on the role of aid in conflict? What do catastrophe bonds and risk-linked securities hold for disaster response? As more actors enter the humanitarian marketplace (including private firms), Carbonnier’s revealing portrayal is especially timely, as is his critique of the transformative power of crises.

The Road to Cuba: The Opportunities and Risks for US Business
By The Wharton School
Summary via publisher (Wharton Digital Press)
Upon President Barack Obama’s announcement in December 2014, investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs began asking questions: What will this historic change mean for economic relations between the United States and Cuba? What opportunities—and risks—should US companies consider as they explore the business potential of one of the largest markets in the Caribbean? The Road to Cuba: The Opportunities and Risks for US Business answers those questions and more.

Bernard Madoff and His Accomplices: Anatomy of a Con
By Lionel S. Lewis
Summary via publisher (Praeger)
This is the first detailed study of how Bernard L. Madoff and his accomplices perpetrated a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions—what has been referred to as the “con of the century.” In December 2008, Bernard L. Madoff was arrested for perpetrating a protracted Ponzi scheme of inconceivably huge proportions that defrauded clients of his securities company of nearly $20 billion—and was consequently sentenced to 150 years in jail. How did Madoff pull this off for years, even returning some or all of clients’ money when they asked, while in actuality was financing the lavish lifestyles of himself, his family, and his accomplices with the stolen funds? And why didn’t anyone in the highly regulated investment industry catch on sooner?

Elliot Wave Techniques Simplified: How to Use the Probability Matrix to Profit on More Trades
By Bennett McDowell
Summary via publisher (McGraw-Hill Education)
Based on the principles of visionary analyst Ralph Nelson Elliott, the time-tested techniques you’ll find in this book have helped successful traders navigate the waves of the financial market since the 1930s. Now you can apply these classic but complicated methods using a modern, simplified approach that will help you identify cycles, anticipate trends, and cash in on your trades.