Book Bits | 26 March 2016

The Overtaxed Investor: Slash Your Tax Bill & Be A Tax Alpha Dog
By Philip DeMuth
Summary via Amazon
Being tax-smart is now more important than ever. In our low-return environment, high taxes on investments gnaw like rats on your profits. Taxes need to be the first thing an investor considers, not an afterthought. Today you have to start with taxes. Nationally recognized investment advisor Phil DeMuth decrypts the 73,954 pages of tax code to show you where the trip-wires lie. He offers simple rules of thumb to navigate the minefield, all in sparkling English. If you aren’t playing the long game with your taxes now, you are sending a valentine to the U.S. Treasury every April 15 with a needlessly fat check attached. DeMuth shows how to safely pare your investment tax bill down to the legal minimum requirement. It adds up to a small fortune that would be better spent on your life, your family, and your retirement.

Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible
By William N. Goetzmann
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
In the aftermath of recent financial crises, it’s easy to see finance as a wrecking ball: something that destroys fortunes and jobs, and undermines governments and banks. In Money Changes Everything, leading financial historian William Goetzmann argues the exact opposite—that the development of finance has made the growth of civilizations possible. Goetzmann explains that finance is a time machine, a technology that allows us to move value forward and backward through time; and that this innovation has changed the very way we think about and plan for the future. He shows how finance was present at key moments in history: driving the invention of writing in ancient Mesopotamia, spurring the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome to become great empires, determining the rise and fall of dynasties in imperial China, and underwriting the trade expeditions that led Europeans to the New World. He also demonstrates how the apparatus we associate with a modern economy—stock markets, lines of credit, complex financial products, and international trade—were repeatedly developed, forgotten, and reinvented over the course of human history.

The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy
By Mervyn King
Review via The Guardian
King ranges widely, framing his argument around not just the dramas of that period but also the decade of lost growth that has followed. In spite of the “biggest monetary policy stimulus in the history of the world” the results have been anaemic. “Central banks have thrown everything at their economies, and yet the results have been disappointing,” he notes. “Whatever can be said about the world recovery since the crisis, it has been neither strong, nor sustainable, nor balanced.”

Trading on Sentiment: The Power of Minds Over Markets
By Richard L. Peterson
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In his debut book on trading psychology, Inside the Investor’s Brain, Rich­ard Peterson demonstrated how managing emotions helps top investors outperform. Now, in Trading on Sentiment, he takes you inside the science of crowd psychol­ogy and demonstrates that not only do price patterns exist, but the most predictable ones are rooted in our shared human nature. Peterson’s team developed text analysis engines to mine data – topics, beliefs, and emotions – from social media. Based on that data, they put together a market-neutral social media-based hedge fund that beat the S&P 500 by more than twenty-four percent—through the 2008 financial crisis. In this groundbreaking guide, he shows you how they did it and why it worked. Applying algorithms to so­cial media data opened up an unprecedented world of insight into the elusive patterns of investor sentiment driving repeating market moves.

Empires in Collision: The Green versus Black Struggle for Our Energy Future
Summary via publisher (Gilgamesh Publishing)
By David Howell
The energy world is dangerously divided between the fossil fuel producers and the environmentalists. It’s becoming a head-on fight between the world of still plentiful oil, gas and coal we currently live in and the low-carbon future for which more and more governments and peoples are aiming. It is a contest that affects everything – world poverty, the rise and fall of governments, Middle East stability, environmental catastrophe, the largest businesses in the world – and your ability to work, to get the children to school and to heat your home. Neither side can win outright. The answer is co-operation , not conflict. Here, David Howell – Lord Howell of Guildford – outlines how we got to the unsettled present and the challenges, both global and local, that lie immediately ahead.

China’s Future
By David Shambaugh
Review via The Economist
In the end, Mr Shambaugh cannot decide whether the coming crackup will be led by the party or the people. Early in the book he notes that the major determinant of China’s future lies with its leadership and their choices. The party, in other words, commands its own destiny. But he also lists a catalogue of credible threats from within society, including tensions over pensions, health care and the environment: “At some point, some—or several—of the elements…will ‘snap’,” he reckons. Hong Kong, Tibet and the far western province of Xinjiang are all tinderboxes, with the fuses already burning.

Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: Ensuring Success from One Generation to the Next
By Henry Hutcheson
Summary via publisher (Greenleaf)
If approximately 70 percent of all businesses are family businesses, and two out of three don’t survive to the next generation, what can you do to make sure your business will survive and thrive? Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business comes clean with much-needed info on nitty-gritty issues such as entitlement; letting employees (even family members) go when they just aren’t working out; compensation; including your kids in the business (when to bring them in, helping them move up, and prepping them to take over); shareholder agreements; selecting the next leader; deciding whether to keep the business or sell it; exit strategies for outgoing leaders; money matters; succession planning; communication; conflict resolution; establishing an effective board; and transitioning to the next generation.