Book Bits | 2 September 2017

Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy
By Tim Harford
Q&A with author via Smithsonian.com
Q: So what made you decide to write a book looking at the modern economy through specific inventions?
A: I think it was a slight sense of frustration. I’m an economist, and economics often feels abstract and very impersonal, even though I don’t think it’s abstract or impersonal. As an economics writer, I’m also looking for a way to tell a good story and get some ideas across. I realized if I produced a kind of technological history with lots of ideas and examples I could teach some economics lessons through these very specific stories.

Chains of Finance: How Investment Management is Shaped
By Diane-Laure Arjalies, et al.
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Investment is no longer a matter of individual savers directly choosing which shares or bonds to buy. Rather, most of their money flows through a ‘chain’: an often extended sequence of intermediaries. What goes on in that chain is of huge importance: The world’s investment managers, who are now almost as well paid as top bankers, control assets equivalent in value to around a year of total global economic output. In Chains of Finance, five social scientists discuss the ways in which the intermediaries in the chain influence each other, channel the flows of savers’ money, enhance investment decisions, and form audiences for each other’s performances of financially competent selves. The central argument of the book is that investment management is fashioned profoundly by the opportunities and constraints this chain creates.

The Paradox of Vulnerability: States, Nationalism, and the Financial Crisis
By John L. Campbell and John A. Hall
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Why are small and culturally homogeneous nation-states in the advanced capitalist world so prosperous? Examining how Denmark, Ireland, and Switzerland managed the 2008 financial crisis, The Paradox of Vulnerability shows that this is not an accident. John Campbell and John Hall argue that a prolonged sense of vulnerability within both the state and the nation encourages the development of institutions that enable decision makers to act together quickly in order to survive, especially during a crisis.

Basic Income: A Guide for the Open-Minded
By Guy Standing
Summary via publisher (Yale University Press)
Basic income is a revolutionary idea that guarantees regular, unconditional cash transfers from the government to all citizens. It is an acknowledgement that everyone plays a part in generating the wealth currently enjoyed by only a few and would rectify the recent breakdown in income distribution. Political parties across the world are now adopting this innovative policy and the idea generates headlines every day. Guy Standing has been at the forefront of thought surrounding basic income for the past thirty years, and in this book he covers in authoritative detail its effects on the economy, poverty, work, and labor; dissects and disproves the standard arguments against basic income; explains what we can learn from pilots across the world; and illustrates exactly why basic income has now become such an urgent necessity.

Money and Finance After the Crisis: Critical Thinking for Uncertain Times
Edited by Brett Christophers, et al.
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Money and Finance After the Crisis provides a critical multi-disciplinary perspective on the post-crisis financial world in all its complexity, dynamism and unpredictability. Contributions illuminate the diversity of ways in which money and finance continue to shape global political economy and society.

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
By Max Tegmark
Summary via publisher (Knopf)
How will Artificial Intelligence affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and our very sense of being human? The rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology—and there’s nobody better qualified or situated to explore that future than Max Tegmark, an MIT professor who’s helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial.

Heterodox Investment Theory: Stochastic Predictability and Uncertainty
By Thomas Pistorius
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
This book combines the study of rhetoric, history, philosophy, philosophy of statistics and the culture of investing to discuss the foundations of stochastical predictability in investment theory. Besides discussing the problem of stochastical prediction, the book also covers alternative investment theories. Ideas from uncertainty economics, expressed by the likes of Keynes, Knight, von Mises, Taleb and McCloskey are also discussed.

The Bucket Plan: Protecting and Growing Your Assets for a Worry-Free Retirement
By Jason L. Smith
Summary via Amazon.com
Do you want a secure retirement, free from worry, stress, and confusion? The Bucket Plan® is a must-read book for anyone serious about creating a practical and sensible financial plan for his or her retirement years. The financial planning process outlined in this book is based on a three-bucket philosophy of strategically positioning assets to plan for and mitigate the risks and dangers that can occur in retirement.

 

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