Book Bits: 22 June 2024

What Went Wrong with Capitalism
Ruchir Sharma
Essay by author via Financial Times
Many observers think the era of easy money ended with the recent return of inflation, because it forced central banks to raise interest rates. But this era was not defined only by low rates and did not begin only in 2008; it encompasses the suite of habits — borrow, bail out, regulate, stimulate — that have been building for a century. It is not over until old habits change.

How the World Ran Out of Everything: Inside the Global Supply Chain
Peter S. Goodman
Review via The Wall Street Journal
In “How the World Ran Out of Everything,” a colorful and very readable look at how the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with supply chains, Peter S. Goodman makes clear that he doesn’t think much of outsourcing, offshoring and just-in-time manufacturing. He contends that the late deliveries and barren retail shelves of 2021 and 2022 were the consequence of a yearslong effort to cut costs and boost profits by shifting production overseas. “The executives of publicly traded corporations and their hired enablers in the political sphere have played make-believe with the world economy,” he writes. As he describes the situation, the past few decades of globalization, at least insofar as manufacturing is concerned, were pretty much a mistake.

The Trolls of Wall Street: How the Outcasts and Insurgents Are Hacking the Markets
Nathaniel Popper
Review via Financial Times
“Meme stock” mania peaked in 2021, when amateur traders, geeing each other up online, jacked up the price of stocks like GameStop and AMC. In his readable, propulsive history of WallStreetBets — the Reddit forum at the heart of the stock-trading craze — Nathaniel Popper argues that the effects of that mania are still being felt.
Popper recounts the history of the forum — founded in 2012 — in detail. His excellent access to chat logs and historical Reddit comments give an inside perspective on the long rise preceding the forum’s mainstream notoriety. Nonetheless, the book hits its straps in the chapters devoted to trading in GameStop shares, whose whiplash price moves dented hedge funds, kinked financial plumbing and made amateur trading front-page news.

Money and Promises: Seven Deals That Changed the World
Paolo Zannoni
Review via Publishers Weekly
Zannoni, the executive vice-chairman of Prada’s board of directors, debuts with an edifying examination of how debt has shaped banking throughout history. Arguing that “the true nature of modern money… is debt,” Zannoni traces the origins of modern banking to 12th-century Pisa, where a coin shortage prompted merchants to compensate business partners with ownership rights to debts in transactions brokered by banks. Tracing how debt “became the currency of the state,” Zannoni explains how the Britain Exchequer’s centuries-long practice of recording financial transactions on sticks known as “tallies” had by the early 18th century transformed the pieces of wood from financial ledgers into promissory notes that represented the state’s financial obligations to its lenders.

Escaping the Growth Curse: The Path to Stronger Corporate Strategy
Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson
Summary via publisher (Berrett-Koehler)
Sustainable company growth isn’t just a pipedream. This 3-part blueprint is your guide to avoiding the traps that cause growth to stall.Sustainable company growth isn’t just a pipedream. This 3-part blueprint is your guide to avoiding the traps that cause growth to stall. As companies mature, their underlying growth naturally slows—this is called the ‘growth curse’. It’s a pervasive problem that plagues companies, CEOs, and board members alike. In order to safeguard a company’s future, a strategic form of governance in which the board plays a more active role on behalf of all stakeholders, must be activated.

Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal
Melissa B. Jacoby
Q&A with author via Axios
Bankruptcy is supposed to provide American individuals and businesses with a way to escape crushing debts, but one expert believes it’s become an unjust — and often racist — system. Why it matters: Bankruptcy is so foundational to America’s economic system that the nation’s founders enshrined it in the U.S. constitution, giving Congress the power to allow burdened debtors to shed creditors. Driving the news: In her new book, “Unjust Debts: How Our Bankruptcy System Makes America More Unequal,” University of North Carolina law professor Melissa Jacoby argues that the system has evolved to hurt many of the people it’s supposed to help.

Please note that the links to books above are affiliate links with and James Picerno (a.k.a. The Capital Spectator) earns money if you buy one of the titles listed. Also note that you will not pay extra for a book even though it generates revenue for The Capital Spectator. By purchasing books through this site, you provide support for The Capital Spectator’s free content. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.