Book Bits | 25 October 2014

Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values
By Lawrence A. Cunningham
Q&A with author via ValueWalk
Q: What inspired you to write this book and what are some of its key implications?
A: For one, it celebrates Berkshire Hathaway’s 50th anniversary under Warren Buffett’s leadership. And, for the past 20 years, people have been asking for 20 years what happens to Berkshire Hathaway if Warren Buffett gets hit by the proverbial bus; the question now has added urgency since the billionaire businessman is 84. The popular answer became paradoxical: Buffett tried to build an enduring institution at Berkshire and yet even great admirers doubt that the company can survive without him. My book demonstrates how Berkshire’s corporate culture is designed to make the company outlast any one person, making the culture part of its succession plan.

Rich As A King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You a Grandmaster of Investing
by Susan Polgar and Douglas Goldstein
Essay by authors via St Louis Business Journal
When people have trouble selecting an investment, they frequently adhere to the “first come, first served” theory. They go with whichever broker called them first or whichever ad initially caught their eye. Though studies have shown that men make quicker (and worse) investment decisions than women, both sexes spend too little time considering their options. Amateur chess players suffer from similar impulsive decision making, often making the first move that comes to mind. Chess coaches, on the other hand, guide their players — even their grandmaster-level clients — to reject spur-of-the-moment moves when the only way they can explain their rationale is to say, “I thought of that idea first.”

Fusion Economics: How Pragmatism Is Changing the World
By Laurence J. Brahm
Summary via publisher (Palgrave)
Everyone knows something is wrong. Over forty percent of the world’s population lives in poverty. Our planet’s resources are diminishing at frightening rates. The international financial system is broken and only serves to exacerbate the gap between the wealthy and the rest. We are at a crucial tipping point. Is there a way out of this mess? In Fusion Economics, Laurence Brahm presents an alternative way to the economic practices and thinking that brought us to this point. Holistic, yet grounded and straightforward, this revolutionary book calls for a turn away from an economic system dangerously steeped in ideology, stymied by politics, and prone to fomenting violence

Personal Benchmark: Integrating Behavioral Finance and Investment Management
By Charles Widger and Daniel Crosby
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In Personal Benchmark: Integrating Behavioral Finance and Investment Management, Chuck Widger and Dr. Daniel Crosby outline the ways in which a program of embedded behavioral finance, fueled by what matters most to you, can be your protection against irrational financial behavior. Along the way, you’ll learn how to improve your investment experience, increase returns formerly sacrificed to misbehavior, and worry less about “The Economy” as you become increasingly focused on “My Economy.”

Blowing the Roof off the Twenty-First Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy
By Robert McChesney
Review via Publishers Weekly
“When organized wealth wants one thing and the mass of the people want another, money wins—always,” McChesney (Dollarocracy: How the Money and the Media Election Complex Is Destroying America) writes in this scathing and unflinching look at American culture, media, and politics. Stating that the tag “conservative” doesn’t mean what it used to, McChesney details how the political right has expertly promoted an “environment conducive to the adaptation of ferociously anti-labor, pro-business neoliberal policies” that benefit only a small portion of society, with the media playing along. He acknowledges the difficulty of untying the Gordian knot he depicts, characterized by a pessimistic voter base, a seemingly indifferent government, disparate income distribution, and skyrocketing incarceration rates (in a society that denies felons the right to vote).

Walter Lippmann: Public Economist
By Craufurd D. Goodwin
Review via The Wall Street Journal
Some of the best history books naturally center on the lives of political leaders, military heroes or even business titans. It is unusual for a historical narrative to feature a journalist. Yet Duke economic historian Craufurd D. Goodwin employs the writings of the once-famous newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann to describe the fervid U.S. debates that began with the 1929 stock-market crash. The device works beautifully. Lippmann, who wrote from 1931 to 1967, was so prolific, and his correspondence with other thinkers and decision makers was so cogent and extensive, that his oeuvre provides excellent material for examining a crucial moment in American history and essential aspects of the American economy, as hotly debated today as in Lippmann’s time.