Book Bits | 23 June 2018

Quantitative Investment Portfolio Analytics In R: An Introduction To R For Modeling Portfolio Risk and Return
By James Picerno
Summary via Amazon
R is a free, open source programming language that’s become a popular standard for financial and economic analysis. Quantitative Investment Portfolio Analytics In R is your guide to getting started with modeling portfolio risk and return in R. Even if you have no experience with the software, you’ll be fluent in R at a basic level after reading this short primer. The chapters provide step-by-step instructions for tapping into R’s powerful capabilities for portfolio analytics.
For a table of contents, click here

Overripe Economy: American Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy
By Alan Nasser
Summary via publisher (Pluto Press)
From industrialisation to the present day, Overripe Economy is a genealogy of the emergence of a finance-ridden, authoritarian, austerity-plagued American capitalism. This panoramic political-economic history of the country, surveys the ruthlessly competitive capitalism of the nineteenth century, the maturation of industrial capitalism in the 1920s, the rise and fall of capitalism’s Golden Age and the ensuing decline towards the modern era. Alan Nasser shows why the emergence of the persistent austerity of financialised neoliberal capitalism is the natural outcome of mature capitalism’s evolution, revealing both the key structural and political vulnerabilities of capitalism itself and points towards the kind of system that can transcend it. At the centre of the argument, is capitalism’s ultimatum: either a ‘new normal’ of persistent austerity, declining democracy and a privatised state, or a polity and economy characterised by an economic democracy that can ensure both higher wages and a shorter working week.

The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines
By Jay W. Richards
Review via Evolution News
The scary thing about artificial intelligence and related advances in technology is not what it will to do us — like put us all out of work — but what we’ll do with it to ourselves and each other.
Our colleague Jay Richards is out today with an important book, The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines, that drives home a point that gets lost in hysterical media headlines about AI. Humans are unique, and no matter how quickly they may perform calculations, robots cannot displace us.

Digital Human: The Fourth Revolution of Humanity Includes Everyone
By Chris Skinner
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
We are living in the fourth age of humanity. First, we became human. Then we became civilized. The third age saw the creation of commerce. Now, we are becoming digital. Technology has changed the way we communicate, trade, and transact, with repercussions extending far beyond our personal spheres. Digital Human is a visionary roadmap for the future, a timely guide on how to navigate the world of finance as we create the next generation of humanity. It explores the digital evolution’s impact and offers clear insights on thriving in this new era. Human and business relationships are evolving, and existing businesses must undergo substantial transformative changes to compete with the smaller, “lighter,” and more agile companies that are able to quickly maneuver to match shifting consumer demands. A lack of online presence has become unthinkable, as consumer preferences continue to trend heavily toward online business and transactions—is your company equipped to thrive in this new era?

The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age
By David Sanger
Interview with author via CBS
Do American intelligence communities need to rethink secrecy when it comes to cyber warfare? It’s something New York Times national security correspondent and best-selling author David Sanger suggests in his new book, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age. “The classifications surrounding cyber is one of the biggest reasons that we’ve got a continued threat. It’s one of the first weapons that was ever developed by the intelligence community, and they’re naturally secretive, and I understand that. And they don’t want to reveal the ways they defend ourselves and do offense,” Sanger said Friday on “CBS This Morning.”

Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism
By Naomi Beck
Summary via publisher (University of Chicago Press)
Few economists can claim the influence—or fame—of F. A. Hayek. Winner of the Nobel Prize, Hayek was one of the most consequential thinkers of the twentieth century, his views on the free market echoed by such major figures as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Yet even among those who study his work in depth, few have looked closely at his use of ideas from evolutionary science to advance his vision of markets and society. With this book Naomi Beck offers the first full-length engagement with Hayek’s thought from this perspective.

The Bonanza King: John Mackay and the Battle over the Greatest Riches in the American West
By Gregory Crouch
Summary via publisher (Scribner)
The rags-to-riches American frontier tale of an Irish immigrant who outwits, outworks, and outmaneuvers thousands of rivals to take control of Nevada’s Comstock Lode—the rich body of gold and silver so immensely valuable that it changed the destiny of the United States.