Book Bits: 27 August 2022

The Investing Oasis: Contrarian Treasures in the Capital Markets Desert
J. T. Mason
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
A guided journey revealing hidden values and buried treasures amidst the dangers facing DIY investors. A metaphorical journey through the hot, shifting sands of the capital markets ‘desert’ to awaken readers to the urgency of the “Behavior Gap”—a chronic gap of under-performance relative to the markets experienced by investors worldwide. This is a roadmap of portfolio management concepts and contrarian tactics that can turn misbehaviors, undue risks, and short-term gambles into longer-term strengths. Through 30 chapters and four tiers, the author progressively introduces more powerful tools & techniques used in the founding and successful management of the Oasis Growth Fund, a North American Hedge Fund.

Zero Interest Policy and the New Abnormal: A Critique
Michael Beenstock
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
In the ‘New Normal’ central banks set their interest rate to zero and print money through massive quantitative easing, while finance ministries run huge fiscal deficits. Yet inflation remains minimal. Zero Interest Policy and the New Abnormal explains why. It also explains why the New Normal is really the New Abnormal, and why it can’t last. This study traces the academic roots of the New Abnormal to a conceptual confusion about the ‘natural rates of interest’, and postmodernism in macroeconomics, exemplified by the DSGE (dynamic stochastic general equilibrium) movement. It develops a theory of ‘existential risk’ which is concerned with the collapse of political economies such the Bretton Woods system and the New Abnormal. The book demonstrates that existential risk expresses itself in the growing gap between the natural rate of interest, measured by the rate of return on capital, and the real rate of interest, as well as in the development of cryptocurrencies.

Owning the Future: Power and Property in an Age of Crisis
Mathew Lawrence and Adrienne Buller
Summary via publisher (Verso)
The question of ownership is the critical fault line of our times, and during the pandemic this issue has only become more divisive. Since March 2020 we have witnessed the extraordinary growth of asset manager capitalism and the explosive concentration of wealth within the hands of the super-rich. This new oligarchy controls every part of our social and economic lives. In the face of crisis, the authors warn that mere redistribution within current forms of ownership is not enough; our goal must be to go beyond the limits of the current system, dominated by private enclosure and unequal ownership. Only by reimagining how our economy is owned and by whom can we address the crises of our time—from the fallout of the pandemic to ecological collapse—at their roots.

The Healthcare Disruptor: How An Underdog Inventor And His Companies Are Changing Medicine And Saving Lives
Dr. Randall W. Jones
Summary via publisher (Forbes Books)
Dr. Randall W. Jones has invented a lot of thins (he’s named on twenty US patents and patents pending), but he’s still on a quest to create the perfect cancer-detection device. In The Healthcare Disruptor, he discusses how anyone can be an inventor/innovator with the right tools. This book provides inspiration and instruction for entrepreneurs forging their own paths to success. Whether you’re taking on a powerful corporate giant, challenging your industry’s norms, or simply trying to understand how to take your first step in business, Dr. Jones has the answers.“Healthcare is in crisis,” he says. “The system is broken. There’s too much emphasis on quantity instead of quality, and too many folks are on the take of big corporations. Major manufacturers and the insurance industry discourage managers from significantly improving their operation and healthcare delivery. But there are ways to change the system.

American Rascal: How Jay Gould Built Wall Street’s Biggest Fortune
Greg Steinmetz
Review via The Wall Street Journal
Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt rarely spoke ill of his close rivals. Not that he had all that many of them. By the early 1870s he was the richest American, owner of the mighty New York Central and a bundle of other railroad lines.
But in 1872 a reporter, who had heard that Vanderbilt was not fond of one of his fellow financiers, asked if this was true. Vanderbilt temporized: “I have had but one business transaction with him in my life. In July, 1868, I sold him some stock for which he paid me promptly.”

A Pipeline Runs Through It: The Story of Oil From Ancient Times to the First World War
Keith Fisher
Review via The Economist
The soaring demand for oil was driven mainly by its use for lighting (after being refined into kerosene). It burned cleaner, brighter and with less smell than other oils, such as those derived from coal or whales. The oil rush began in 1859 along what became known as Oil Creek, near Titusville, Pennsylvania, when an entrepreneur called Edwin Drake became the first American to drill for oil successfully. As wildcatters rushed to the region, small refineries started popping up all over the place. Railway companies cashed in by providing the only route to market until pipelines, which required large amounts of capital, could be constructed.

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