Book Bits | 2 March 2019

Behavioral Finance:
What Everyone Needs to Know

By H. Kent Baker, et al.
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
People tend to be penny wise and pound foolish and cry over spilt milk, even though we are taught to do neither. Focusing on the present at the expense of the future and basing decisions on lost value are two mistakes common to decision-making that are particularly costly in the world of finance. Behavioral Finance: What Everyone Needs to Know provides an overview of common shortcuts and mistakes people make in managing their finances. It covers the common cognitive biases or errors that occur when people are collecting, processing, and interpreting information. These include emotional biases and the influence of social factors, from culture to the behavior of one’s peers. These effects vary during one’s life, reflecting differences in due to age, experience, and gender.

Savvy: Navigating Fake Companies, Fake Leaders and Fake News in the Post-Trust Era
By Shiv Singh and Rohini Luthra
Review via
We grew up trusting our friends, teachers, newspapers, radio hosts and TV news announcers. Now, say two scholars, “we are now living in the post-trust era.”
What does this mean for the content appearing on many radio station websites? What about what’s being said from a broadcast TV stations news anchors? Shiv Singh and Rohini Luthra, PhD, have co-authored a new book released in January that introduces seminal psychology studies and examples from today’s political and business headlines to illuminate why human beings are so vulnerable to putting our trust in people, organizations and information that may be biased or downright deceptive. On the flip side, they could be doubting credible sources — including yours.

The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind
By Raghuram Rajan
Review via The New York Times
Raghuram Rajan comes both to praise community and to bury it. This University of Chicago professor and former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund wants his new book to “reintroduce into the debate” the titular and neglected “third pillar” of community alongside the pillars of market and state that dominate modern society. Rajan says he is seeking “the right balance between them so that society prospers.” But he lacks the courage of his convictions. What begins as an incisive critique of how economists and policymakers abandoned community ends as a dismaying illustration of the problem.

Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order
By Bruno Maçães
Summary via publisher (Hurst)
China’s Belt and Road strategy is acknowledged to be the most ambitious geopolitical initiative of the age. Covering almost seventy countries by land and sea, it will affect every element of global society, from shipping to agriculture, digital economy to tourism, politics to culture. Most importantly, it symbolises a new phase in China’s ambitions as a superpower: to remake the world economy and crown Beijing as the new centre of capitalism and globalisation. Bruno Maçães traces this extraordinary initiative’s history, highlighting its achievements to date, and its staggering complexity. He asks whether Belt and Road is about more than power projection and profit. Might it herald a new set of universal political values, to rival those of the West? Is it, in fact, the story of the century?

The Enlightened Capitalists: Cautionary Tales of Business Pioneers Who Tried to Do Well by Doing Good
By James O’Toole
Review via Financial Times
The Enlightened Capitalists is a fat book about people many of us might regard as fat cats: people who made — and in some cases lost — a lot of money in business but stood out because they also tried to “do good while they did well”.
James O’Toole, an emeritus professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, has been studying these business outliers for some 50 years and this enormous but accessible book is the result. By his definition, an enlightened capitalist seeks “to address social problems primarily through their business practices, rather than by acts of charity or philanthropy”.

The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West
By Payal Arora
Summary via publisher (Harvard University Press)
A digital anthropologist examines the online lives of millions of people in China, India, Brazil, and across the Middle East—home to most of the world’s internet users—and discovers that what they are doing is not what we imagine. New-media pundits obsess over online privacy and security, cyberbullying, and revenge porn, but do these things really matter in most of the world? The Next Billion Users reveals that many assumptions about internet use in developing countries are wrong.

Millennials Are Not Aliens: …but they are 80 Million Americans Who Are Changing How We Buy, Sell, Vacation, Invest, and Just About Everything Else
By Gui Costin
Press release via
Millennials have adopted new habits that are likely to live on for generations to come. In his book, Costin provides examples of the sea change taking place and gives actionable advice for those hoping to evolve with the times. His book was designed to help various industries understand the habits of this next generation, and how to adapt to them.

Spending Time: The Most Valuable Resource
By Daniel S. Hamermesh
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
That our time is limited by the number of hours in a day, days in a year, and years in our lives means that we face constraints and thus choices that involve trade-offs. We sleep, eat, have fun, watch TV, and not least we work. How much we dedicate to each, and why we do so, is intriguing and no one is better placed to shed light on similarities and differences than Daniel S. Hamermesh, the leading authority on time-use. Here he explores how people use their time, including across countries, regions, cultures, class, and gender.

Understanding Economic Change: Advances in Evolutionary Economics
Edited by Ulrich Witt and Andreas Chai
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
Although the economy has always been changing, ever more innovations now seem to accelerate the transformation process. Are there any laws governing the incessant global change? Does it accord with our intentions and desires and make us happier? Do our institutions and our democracies cope with the challenges? How does economic theory explain what is going on? In this volume, experts in the field discuss the advances that evolutionary economics has made in exploring questions like these. The broad range of topics include a review of the development of the field: its conceptual and methodological characteristics are outlined; problems posed by macroeconomic evolution and the institutional challenges are highlighted; and, last but not least, the implications of the evolution of the economy for wellbeing and sustainability are addressed. Taken together, the contributions demonstrate the potential of an evolutionary paradigm for making sense of economic change and for assessing its consequences.