Book Bits | 25 January 2020

The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite
By Michael Lind
Review via The Washington Examiner
The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite [is] a short volume that examines the populist revolts in the U.S., Britain, and Western Europe. All of them, Lind says, are part of a transatlantic class war being waged on three fronts — politics, economics, and culture. For a brief period after World War II, working-class and rural constituencies enjoyed real bargaining power in all three realms. Since then, the West has seen a “technocratic neoliberal revolution from above” that has systematically destroyed the working class’s ability to participate in national life. The result has been the rise of working-class populism, culminating in Brexit and the election of President Trump.

Crude Intentions: How Oil Corruption Contaminates the World
By Alexandra Gillies
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
Billions of dollars stolen from citizens are circling the globe, enriching powerful individuals, altering political outcomes, and disadvantaging everyday people. News headlines provide glimpses of how this corruption works and why it matters: President Trump’s businesses struck deals with oligarchs and sold property to secretive shell companies; the Panama Papers leak triggered investigations in 79 countries; and, corruption scandals toppled heads of state in Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea. But how do these pieces fit together? And if the corruption is so vast and so tied up with powerful interests, how do we begin to fight back?

China and the Future of Globalization: The Political Economy of China’s Rise
By Grzegorz W. Kolodko
Summary via publisher (Bloomsbury)
The forces of globalization have transformed the world economically, but in the West politics is becoming increasingly fractured as living standards stagnate for all but the very wealthy. As a result, alienation and nationalism are on the rise. China, in the meantime, has become the most powerful economy in the world from the same forces of globalization which have imprisoned the west. Here, Grzegorz W. Kolodko parses the economic system in China and brings his uniquely clear and far sighted analysis to bear on the global economy. Through a qualitative and extensive quantitative economic analysis of the global economy, and it’s tilt towards Asia, Kolodko offers prescriptions on how the west can learn from China’s approach, and make globalization work for citizens once more.

The New World Economy: A Beginner’s Guide
By Randy Charles Epping
Review via Publishers Weekly
International financial consultant Epping (A Beginner’s Guide to the World Economy) explains modern economic concepts and terminology including Bitcoin, tech “unicorns,” “the internet of things,” and “crony capitalism,” in this straightforward, neoliberalism-infused guide. Arranging his text around questions that economics novices might have, Epping returns frequently to the tenets of supply and demand and comparative advantage, encouraging readers to pay down credit card debt and learn how to invest in stocks and bonds. He criticizes border walls and other trade barriers as being based on fear rather than sound economic principles, contending that the gig economy is a “viable work alternative” for people “not looking for job security per se.”

The Founding Fortunes: How the Wealthy Paid for and Profited from America’s Revolution
By Tom Shachtman
Review via Publishers Weekly
Historian Shachtman (How the French Saved America) offers a comprehensive survey of the economic factors that led to the Revolutionary War and explores how wealthy merchants, plantation owners, and privateers supported and benefited from the conflict in this workmanlike account. Among the ranks of affluent colonists whose resistance to British rule went against their own interests, Shachtman lists John Dickinson, a lawyer and Pennsylvania land owner who called on patriots to protest the 1767 Townshend Acts by refusing to import household staples including sugar and mustard, as well as luxury items such as silk garments and jewelry.

The Savvy Investor’s Guide to Avoiding Pitfalls, Frauds, and Scams
By H. Kent Baker, et al.
Summary via publisher (Emerald Publishing)
There are two important things you must do to be a savvy investor: make good investment decisions and avoid costly mistakes. As important as good investments are, one bad mistake can ruin the result of all your good decisions. In the second book in The H. Kent Baker Investments Series, investing experts H. Kent Baker, John R. Nofsinger, and Vesa Puttonen offer an insightful guide on avoiding those detrimental missteps. The Savvy Investor’s Guide to Avoiding Pitfalls, Frauds and Scams explores the common pitfalls that investors face. Highlighting important issues when investing especially in common stocks and mutual funds, they explore the psychological biases of investors that can cause you to be your own worst enemy. Finally, they look at frauds and scams, and how to protect yourself from dishonest people wanting to profit at your expense.

Conspiracy Theories: A Primer
By Joseph E. Uscinski
Summary via publisher (Rowman & Littlefield)
Conspiracy theories are a part of the human condition. Everyone believes at least one, but given the number of conspiracy theories, it is more likely that everyone believes a few. Some people have a worldview defined by them. Conspiracy theories are just another reminder that people disagree about many things, including truth. These disagreements have always existed and always will. We have to live with conspiracy theories and with the people who believe them. The only way to do this is have compassion and tolerance for others, and to hold our own beliefs to high standards. This book introduces students to the research into conspiracy theories and the people who propagate and believe them. In doing so, it addresses the psychological, sociological, and political sources of conspiracy theorizing