Book Bits | 20 June 2020

Think for Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence
Vikram Mansharamani
Summary via publisher (Harvard Business Review Press)
We’ve outsourced too much of our thinking. How do we get it back? Have you ever followed your GPS device to a deserted parking lot? Or unquestioningly followed the advice of an expert–perhaps a doctor or financial adviser–only to learn later that your own thoughts and doubts were correct? And what about the stories we’ve all heard over the years about sick patients–whether infected with Ebola or COVID-19–who were sent home or allowed to travel because busy staff people were following a protocol to the letter rather than using common sense? Why and how do these kinds of things happen? As Harvard lecturer and global trend watcher Vikram Mansharamani shows in this eye-opening and perspective-shifting book, our complex, data-flooded world has made us ever more reliant on experts, protocols, and technology.

They’re Not Listening: How The Elites Created the National Populist Revolution
Ryan James Girdusky and Harlan Hill
Summary via publisher (Post Hill Press)
The election of Donald Trump in America and the referendum on European Union membership in the United Kingdom, otherwise known as Brexit, sent shockwaves throughout the world. Cosmopolitan elites across the globe never saw this populist uprising coming and still do not understand it. People across the globe have been increasingly voting for national-populist politicians over the last twenty years.

Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World
Robert M. Gates
Review via The New York Times
On the surface, the book is conventional. It starts with a list of all the tools national security policymakers can draw on, from military force and economic sanctions to diplomacy, foreign aid and beyond, and ends with wise advice. What makes it special is what comes between — a dozen case studies of how the last six administrations have used those tools in managing post-Cold War security challenges including China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and the rest. The familiar stories gain new life and interest when told by somebody who’s been in the room where it happens.

Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food
Chase Purdy
Review via NPR
At the center of Chase Purdy’s briskly paced and quietly bold Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food is Josh Tetrick, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur and CEO of Just Inc. Tetrick’s company and a handful of others like it are growing cell-cultured meat that tastes, feels and looks like the livestock-harvested meat that people are used to — except without the farms and killing of animals. And before anyone raises a skeptical brow: Yes, it’s actually meat. Technically, at least. The struggle for mainstream acceptance of cell-cultured meat is real. Convincing the American public that cells grown in “serum” in a big vat is meat will be challenging, but it could happen — and sooner than you might think.

The Business Reinvention of Japan: How to Make Sense of the New Japan and Why It Matters
Ulrike Schaede
Summary via publisher (Stanford University Press)
After two decades of reinvention, Japanese companies are re-emerging as major players in the new digital economy. They have responded to the rise of China and new global competition by moving upstream into critical deep-tech inputs and advanced materials and components. This new “aggregate niche strategy” has made Japan the technology anchor for many global supply chains. Although the end products do not carry a “Japan Inside” label, Japan plays a pivotal role in our everyday lives across many critical industries.

Asset-Liability and Liquidity Management
Pooya Farahvash
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Asset-Liability and Liquidity Management distils the author’s extensive experience in the financial industry, and ALM in particular, into concise and comprehensive lessons. Each of the topics are covered with a focus on real-world applications, based on the author’s own experience in the industry. The author is the Vice President of Treasury Modeling and Analytics at American Express. He is also an adjunct Professor at New York University, teaching a variety of analytical courses.

Optimal Money Flow
Lawrence C. Marsh
Review via Publishers Weekly
Marsh (Brain on Fire), economics professor emeritus, delivers a lay-reader friendly examination of the ways economics and politics intersect in this timely take on solutions for steering economies back from recession. Marsh highlights the positive role government can play in nurturing a sound economy, both on the national and international stages. Readers will appreciate his well-reasoned discussions of the advantages of immigration and trade, in terms of mutually beneficial partnerships between nations, though they may be skeptical of Marsh’s ambitious “My America” plan of providing Americans with Federal Reserve bank accounts, into which the Fed could deposit funds when recession threatens.

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