Book Bits |25 June 2016

Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe
By James K. Galbraith
Summary via publisher (Yale University Press)
The economic crisis in Greece is a potential international disaster and one of the most extraordinary monetary and political dramas of our time. The financial woes of this relatively small European nation threaten the long-term viability of the Euro while exposing the flaws in the ideal of continental unity. “Solutions” proposed by Europe’s combined leadership have sparked a war of prideful words and stubborn one-upmanship, and they are certain to fail, according to renowned economist James K. Galbraith, because they are designed for failure. It is this hypocrisy that prompted former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, when Galbraith arrived in Athens as an adviser, to greet him with the words “Welcome to the poisoned chalice.”

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
By Nancy Isenberg
Review via The Washington Post
If slavery is America’s original sin, class may be its hidden one.
It is part of our national creed that the opportunity to achieve and improve ourselves is not predetermined at birth; that upward mobility, while hard, is possible. We are not the British, after all, trapped in some “Downton Abbey” hell of self-aware stratification — we rebelled against all that, right?
Nancy Isenberg, a professor of history at Louisiana State University, has authored a gritty and sprawling assault on this aspect of American mythmaking. Ours is very much a class-based society, she argues, and had been long before Occupy Wall Street or Bernie Sanders, long before we were a country at all. In “White Trash” Isenberg takes a very particular look at class in the United States, examining the white rural outcasts whom politicians from Andrew Jackson to Donald Trump have sought to rally, but who otherwise have remained vilified, shunned, targeted and kept apart, both physically — in poorhouses and trailer parks, through eugenic science and discriminatory public policy — and in the nation’s cultural imagination, where they have inspired mockery, kitsch and unceasing grimaces.

Hedge Funds: Education of an Investment Analyst
By David Rajan
Summary via publisher (Quintus)
As an analyst who entered this field in 2007, searching for potential managers to invest with, David Rajan went through the same challenges before discovering some of the smartest investment opportunities hidden in the vast space of over 9000 hedge funds. His exploration into the hedge fund strategies and fund managers could not have happened at a better time than the period haunted by credit crisis. After five years of very rewarding analytical experience, he shifted his career to a more focused CTA quant analyst and sat to count the treasure he brought forward. And it was huge. In this book he tries to show some of those learnings. As documented in this book, his knowledge would work as a jump-start tool for any analyst who is thinking of knowing more about this wonderful but secretive world of investment.

Financial Modeling Using R
By by Yuxing Yan
Summary via publisher (Tate)
This is a programming book written by a finance professor. This book will be an ideal textbook for many quantitative finance courses, such as (next generation) financial modeling, portfolio theory, empirical research in finance, computational finance, and risk management. The book has three unique characteristics: (1) use free software; (2) combine programming with various finance theories, such as ratio analysis, CAPM, Fama-French 5-factor model, portfolio theory, options and futures, credit analysis, VaR (Value at Risk), and Monte Carlo Simulation; and (3) download and process publicly available financial and economic data from various sources, such as Yahoo!Finance, Google Finance, FRED (Federal Reserve Bank’s Economic Data Library), SEC, and Prof. French’s Data Library.