Book Bits | 25 March 2017

After the Flood: How the Great Recession Changed Economic Thought
Edited by Edward L. Glaeser, et al.
Summary via publisher (Chicago University Press)
The past three decades have been characterized by vast change and crises in global financial markets—and not in politically unstable countries but in the heart of the developed world, from the Great Recession in the United States to the banking crises in Japan and the Eurozone. As we try to make sense of what caused these crises and how we might reduce risk factors and prevent recurrence, the fields of finance and economics have also seen vast change, as scholars and researchers have advanced their thinking to better respond to the recent crises.

The World After GDP: Politics, Business and Society in the Post Growth Era
By Lorenzo Fioramonti
Summary via publisher (Polity)
GDP is supposed to be the supreme measure of growth and progress worldwide. Yet the financial crisis, the depletion of non-renewable energy resources and climate change show that it is fundamentally flawed. While the end of GDP may sound like a nightmare to staunch defenders of neoliberal globalization, Lorenzo Fioramonti argues that it offers the possibility of an historic transition to a more equitable, sustainable and happy society. His inspiring book sets out the political and economic implications of this shift to a world that s overcome its obsession with growth of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression
By Peter Joseph
Review via The New York Journal of Books
Despite the efforts of governments, NGOs, religious groups, and other organizations to alleviate the problems of crime, poverty and myriad other social ills, they remain with us, growing rather than decreasing. Countless billions of dollars have been spent, with minimal, if any, results.
In The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression, Peter Joseph offers a revolutionary and thought-provoking explanation of why this is. Simply put, these social problems cannot be solved until the underlying systemic issues that cause them are first recognized, and then addressed, but doing so is not in the interests of the world’s movers and shakers.

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist
By Kate Raworth
Review via Publishers Weekly
This sharp, insightful call for a shift in thinking from economist Raworth posits that a long-overdue intellectual revolution has finally begun. According to her, the established model of economic thought no longer satisfies economics students, who are calling out for change; the education they’re receiving is out of pace with current economic realities. To formulate a better model, Raworth reversed the way she’d previously looked at economics. Rather than relying on established truisms, she laid out long-term goals for humankind and worked to figure out how economic thinking would allow us to achieve them.

Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income
By Paul Buchheit
Essay by author via
Delusions persist about the power of the market and the dangers of governing ourselves. The business media has conditioned us to fear the words ‘social’ and ‘public,’ as if they connote evil or ineptitude or anti-Americanism. But the public good depends on cooperation. Society fosters individual accomplishment, not the other way around.
The obscene transfer of wealth and income to the plutocrats won’t end until we demand a return to the Commons, where we work as a society rather than allow predatory plutocratic individuals to control us. There are 112 million households in America that are giving thousands of their hard-earned dollars to the 1%, and we have finally begun to fight back, together, as a massive force of Americans who refuse to let the theft continue.

University of Berkshire Hathaway: 30 Years of Lessons Learned from Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger at the Annual Shareholders Meeting
By Daniel Peacut with Corey Wrenn
Summary via
Each year, for thirty years, two veteran investment advisors attended Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders Meeting. After each meeting, they chronicled Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s best lessons from that year. This book compiles those thirty years of wisdom for the first time.

The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History
By David Enrich
Summary via publisher (Custom House/HarperCollins)
The Wall Street Journal’s award-winning business reporter unveils the bizarre and sinister story of how a math genius named Tom Hayes, a handful of outrageous confederates, and a deeply corrupt banking system ignited one of the greatest financial scandals in history. In 2006, an oddball group of bankers, traders and brokers from some of the world’s largest financial institutions made a startling realization: Libor—the London interbank offered rate, which determines the interest rates on trillions in loans worldwide—was set daily by a small group of easily manipulated functionaries, and that they could reap huge profits by nudging it to suit their trading portfolios.

Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy
By Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght
Summary via publisher (Harvard University Press)
It may sound crazy to pay people an income whether or not they are working or looking for work. But the idea of providing an unconditional basic income to every individual, rich or poor, active or inactive, has been advocated by such major thinkers as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, and John Kenneth Galbraith. For a long time, it was hardly noticed and never taken seriously. Today, with the traditional welfare state creaking under pressure, it has become one of the most widely debated social policy proposals in the world. Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght present the most comprehensive defense of this radical idea so far, advocating it as our most realistic hope for addressing economic insecurity and social exclusion in the twenty-first century.