Book Bits: 25 February 2023

Limitless: The Federal Reserve Takes on a New Age of Crisis
Jeanna Smialek
Review via The Economist
As covid-19 struck, markets were in meltdown and economic disaster loomed. The central bank swung into emergency mode, injecting vast, if not quite infinite, sums of cash into the financial system in order to avert a crisis… The actions worked a little too well. Before long, growth was recovering, markets were booming and price pressures were building. The Fed ended up having to fight America’s worst outbreak of inflation in decades—a fight that is ongoing. This sharp duality poses a dilemma for any appraisal of the Fed’s record during the pandemic… “Limitless” by Jeanna Smialek of the New York Times is a useful corrective. She provides a bracing account of just how badly things could have turned out when covid shutdowns led millions to lose their jobs overnight—and pushed the financial system to the brink of collapse.

Fool Proof: How Fear of Playing the Sucker Shapes Our Selves and the Social Order―and What We Can Do About It
Tess Wilkinson-Ryan
Review via The Wall Street Journal
“Fool Proof,” with its lengthy subtitle, “How Fear of Playing the Sucker Shapes Our Selves and the Social Order—and What We Can Do About It,” establishes early on that one reason we are so affronted by being scammed is that it lessens our social status… If “Fool Proof” can’t save us from being scammed, it does elucidate a powerful dynamic at work in all of us. The author’s solution—to reassess how we think of being duped—put me in mind of a quote attributed to Will Rogers: “I’d rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.”

Oil Shock: The 1973 Crisis and its Economic Legacy
Edited by Elisabetta Bini, et al.
Summary via publisher (Bloomsbury)
The 1973 ‘Oil Shock’ is considered a turning point in the history of the twentieth century. At the time it seemed to mark a definitive shift from the era of low priced oil to the era of expensive oil. For most Western industrialized countries, it became the symbolic marker of the end of an era. For many oil producers, it translated into an unprecedented control over their energy resources, and completed the process of decolonization, leading to a profound redefinition of international relations.This book provides an analysis of the crisis and its global political and economic impact. It features contributions from a range of perspectives and approaches, including political, economic, environmental, international and social history.

All the Presidents’ Taxes: What We Can Learn (and Borrow) from the High-Stakes World of Presidential Tax-Paying
Charles Renwick
Summary via book’s web site
Of course we want to hold public officials accountable for paying their fair share. But just as importantly, we want to see how they legally save hundreds of thousands of dollars. You don’t have to be a politician to pull a page from their playbook and save your hard-earned money, too. After all, it’s not how much you make, but what you keep after taxes. All the Presidents’ Taxes details the intriguing tax stories and strategies of the most popular presidents and presidential candidates, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden. Learn exactly what politicians’ accountants do to save on taxes so that you can save too—even if you don’t have the income of a president’s salary.

Uncertainty Quantification using R
Eduardo Souza de Cursi
Summary via publisher (Springer)
This book is a rigorous but practical presentation of the techniques of uncertainty quantification, with applications in R and Python. This volume includes mathematical arguments at the level necessary to make the presentation rigorous and the assumptions clearly established, while maintaining a focus on practical applications of uncertainty quantification methods. Practical aspects of applied probability are also discussed, making the content accessible to students. The introduction of R and Python allows the reader to solve more complex problems involving a more significant number of variables. Users will be able to use examples laid out in the text to solve medium-sized problems.

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