Book Bits: 21 August 2021

Safe Haven: Investing for Financial Storms
Mark Spitznagel
Essay by author via Financial Times
The fact is, safety from risk can be exceedingly costly. As a cure, it is often worse than the disease. And what’s worse, the costs are often hidden; they are errors of omission (the great shots that could have been), even as they mitigate errors of commission (the bad shots). The latter are the errors we easily notice; ignoring the former for the latter is a costly fallacy… More surprising, even investors engage in risk mitigation irony as well. They strive to do something — anything — to mitigate risk, even if it impairs their portfolios and defeats the purpose. The vast majority of presumed risk mitigation strategies leave errors of omission in their wake (ie underperformance), all in the name of avoiding losses from falling markets.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio: The Stories, Voices, and Key Insights of the Pioneers Who Shaped the Way We Invest
Andrew W. Lo and Stephen R. Foerster
Review via MIT Mgt Sloan School
Imagine you’re in a room with six Nobel economists and Wall Street’s “wisest man” — what investment advice would you ask them?
While the odds of that meetup are slim, a new book from MIT Sloan professorAndrew Loand Ivey Business School’s Stephen R. Foerster offers a similar opportunity to look inside the minds of investment luminaries such as Myron Scholes, Robert Merton, and Robert Shiller.
“In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio: The Stories, Voices, and Key Insights of the Pioneers Who Shaped the Way We Invest,” provides insights from 10 experts on topics including diversification, market timing, and the concept of a perfect portfolio and whether it’s possible to achieve that right mix of risk and reward.

Gold, Oil and Avocados: A Recent History of Latin America in Sixteen Commodities
Andy Robinson
Review via Publishers Weekly
La Vanguardia reporter Robinson makes his English-language debut with an incisive look at how an overreliance on the extraction and export of raw materials has fueled Latin America’s recent political, social, and economic turmoils. Drawing inspiration from Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America, Robinson sketches the rise and fall of progressive governments across the region over the past two decades, as efforts to “accelerate growth in order to eliminate poverty and extreme inequality” were undermined by the 2008 financial crisis; tensions between extractivist industries and environmental activists; and U.S. meddling, among other factors.

Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam
Vivek Ramaswamy
Review via BioSpace
“Woke,” is defined as “alert to injustice in society, especially racism.” The Oxford English Dictionary added it in 2017, with “originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.”
As iNews in the UK noted, “It has become a common term of derision among some who oppose the movements it is associated with, or believe the issues are exaggerated. It is sometimes used to mock or infantilize supporters of those movements.”
Ramaswamy’s book argues that “the modern woke-industrial complex divides us as a people. By mixing morality with consumerism, America’s elites prey on our innermost insecurities about who we really are. They sell us cheap social causes and skin-deep identities to satisfy our hunger for a pause and our search for meaning, at a moment when we as Americans lack both.”

The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Regain It
Sandra J. Sucher and Shalene Gupta
Review via The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. experienced an episode of mass distrust in 2008, when collapsed confidence in the banking system sent the economy into a tailspin. Today, with the products and policies of major companies becoming ever more deeply integrated into our lives—particularly companies in the technology sector—there is ever more need for chief executives and their teams to build trust and maintain it.
That is the backdrop to “The Power of Trust” by Sandra Sucher and Shalene Gupta, a Harvard Business School professor and research associate, respectively. The authors provide an overview of trust’s role in business, drawing on academic studies and describing companies that have fostered trust, lost it or regained it.

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