Book Bits | 27 February 2016

The Empire Of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the 15thC to the 21stC
By Frank Trentmann
Review via The Independent
Trentmann has written a suitably gigantic book for a gigantic subject but the mass of detail he provides never overwhelms. This is a book that can be dipped into and enjoyed at leisure. The first half, in which he describes how the consumer culture took off, is especially fascinating. You can’t not learn something new here.
He closes his epic tale on a sombre note, warning that unless a cultural revolution takes place, which frees us from our addiction to buying, consuming and then throwing things away, we risk submerging the entire planet in waste. Judging by our record so far, don’t hold out your hopes.

The Green and the Black: The Complete Story of the Shale Revolution, the Fight over Fracking, and the Future of Energy
By Gary Sernovitz
Review via Publishers Weeky
A much-maligned energy technology gets a thorough vetting in this sharp-eyed, wised-up primer. Sernovitz, a novelist (Great American Plain) and executive at a hydrocarbon-focused private equity firm, explores from several angles the revolution in hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, that has unlocked huge deposits of American oil and gas. He argues that these advances will boost energy supplies and lower prices, wrestles with environmental impacts (the ballyhooed threat to groundwater, he concludes, is virtually nil, while problems with surface contamination, noise, and obnoxiousness are real but manageable), and notes that using fracked gas has substantially lowered U.S. carbon emissions.

Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends
By Martin Lindstrom
Summary via publisher (St. Martin’s Press)
Martin Lindstrom, a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, harnesses the power of “small data” in his quest to discover the next big thing. Hired by the world’s leading brands to find out what makes their customers tick, Martin Lindstrom spends 300 nights a year in strangers’ homes, carefully observing every detail in order to uncover their hidden desires, and, ultimately, the clues to a multi-million dollar product. Lindstrom connects the dots in this globetrotting narrative that will enthrall enterprising marketers, as well as anyone with a curiosity about the endless variations of human behavior.

Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel
By Tom Wainwright
Q&A with author via NPR
Wainwright describes his new book, Narconomics, as a business manual for drug lords — and also a blueprint for how to defeat them. When it comes to battling the cartels, Wainwright says governments might do better to focus on controlled legalization rather than complete eradication of the product.
“The choice that I think we face isn’t really a choice between a world without drugs and a world with drugs,” he says. “I think the choice we face really is between a world where drugs are controlled by governments and prescribed by pharmacists and doctors, and a world where they’re dealt by the mafia, and given that choice, I think the former sounds more appealing.”

A Guide to Creating A Successful Algorithmic Trading Strategy
By Perry J. Kaufman
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
A Guide to Creating a Successful Algorithmic Trading Strategy provides the latest strategies from an industry guru to show you how to build your own system from the ground up. If you’re looking to develop a successful career in algorithmic trading, this book has you covered from idea to execution as you learn to develop a trader’s insight and turn it into profitable strategy. You’ll discover your trading personality and use it as a jumping-off point to create the ideal algo system that works the way you work, so you can achieve your goals faster. Coverage includes learning to recognize opportunities and identify a sound premise, and detailed discussion on seasonal patterns, interest rate-based trends, volatility, weekly and monthly patterns, the 3-day cycle, and much more—with an emphasis on trading as the best teacher.

Estate Planning
By William P. Streng
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Estate Planning is your overview of the estate planning concepts that are necessary to consider when advising your clients about the different facets of wealth transfer planning. This fundamental reference presents the basic estate, gift, and trust planning ideas in a descriptive and accessible manner—allowing you to easily and conveniently access the information you need when you need it. This essential text covers the development of estate planning strategies for your clients, the fundamentals of the federal transfer tax system, relevant federal income tax rules, lifetime donative asset transfers, gratuitous property transfers at death, generation-skipping transfers, special property transfer planning considerations, and post-mortem planning.