Book Bits | 27 July 2019

Aftermath: Seven Secrets of Wealth Preservation in the Coming Chaos
Interview with author (via Kitco News)
By James Rickards
The economy is vulnerable to economic “chaos” due to several monetary and policy mistakes made since the 2008 recession, said best-selling author Jim Rickards.
His new book “Aftermath: Seven Secrets of Wealth Preservation In The Coming Chaos” details how the last economic crisis never really ended.
“Technically, the recession was over in June 2009 and the U.S. economy has been expanding ever since. We’re coming up on 10 years of expansion, it’s one of the longest expansions in U.S. history and it’s one of the longest bull markets in stocks in U.S. history, so that’s true. But, it’s also been the weakest expansion in U.S. history. For 10 years average growth has been about 2.2%,” Rickards told Kitco News.

Forecasting: An Essential Introduction
By  Jennifer Castle, et al.
Review via The Enlightened Economist
For a non-technical guide to economic forecasting, there could be nothing better than Forecasting: An Essential Introduction by Jennifer Castle, Michael Clements and David Hendry. It is a crystal clear and intuitive explanation of what macroeconomic forecasts can and can’t do. It explains the inherent difficulties in trying to forecast the future of a complex non- linear, non-stationary system in which behaviour can be affected by forecasts themselves, all from a limited amount of past data. Better still, it explains the empirical techniques this ace team have devised to tackle some of the challenges.

The Case for Universal Basic Income
By Louise Haagh
Summary via publisher (Polity)
Advocated (and attacked) by commentators across the political spectrum, paying every citizen a basic income regardless of their circumstances sounds utopian. However, as our economies are transformed and welfare states feel the strain, it has become a hotly debated issue.In this compelling book, Louise Haagh, one of the world’s leading experts on basic income, argues that Universal Basic Income is essential to freedom, human development and democracy in the twenty-first century. She shows that, far from being a silver bullet that will transform or replace capitalism, or a sticking plaster that will extend it, it is a crucial element in a much broader task of constructing a democratic society that will promote social equality and humanist justice. She uses her unrivalled knowledge of the existing research to unearth key issues in design and implementation in a range of different contexts across the globe, highlighting the potential and pitfalls at a time of crisis in governing and public austerity.

Incentivology: The Forces That Explain Tremendous Success and Spectacular Failure
By Jason Murphy
Summary via publisher (Hardie Grant)
Rewards. Punishments. Prices. The Nobel Prize. Candy Crush. Incentives take more forms than you might expect and they can be hard to spot, but they shape our lives in ways that we rarely examine. Some incentives are obvious, like for example, publicly committing to doing something you dislike in order to motivate you to do something difficult, like lose weight. But, many of the most powerful incentives are accidental, and invisible even to those who designed them. Some are tame – and some are most definitely not. Whether it’s bounties for criminals or Instagrammable meals, training your dog or saving the planet, incentives regularly backfire, go missing, mutate and evolve. Without oversight, their unintended consequences can have very global effects.

The Making of a Democratic Economy: How to Build Prosperity for the Many, Not the Few
By Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard
Review via Fast Company
In the U.S., the three wealthiest men own more wealth than all the wealth controlled by the 50% least wealthy Americans. Since 2009, 95% of income gains in the U.S. have gone to the top 1%. On top of that, the pressure for continuous production and consumption is depleting Earth’s natural resources at more than 1.5 times the planet’s ability to regenerate them and releasing harmful emissions that are warming the planet at a dangerous rate.
For people well-versed in the problems facing the U.S. today, these are familiar statistics, but to Ted Howard and Marjorie Kelly, the cofounder and executive vice president, respectively, of The Democracy Collaborative, they bear repeating—especially to prove that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Who Should Own Natural Resources?
By Margaret Moore
Summary via publisher (Polity)
The natural resources of the earth – from oil and water to minerals and land – are crucial to our basic economic and social existence. But who is entitled to control, use and benefit from them? Should anyone ‘own’ the natural bounty of our planet? In this book, distinguished political theorist Margaret Moore tackles these questions and examines the different positions in the debate. States claim the right to control the natural resources within their territory. Liberals argue for a system of private ownership rights, including over natural resources, while egalitarians dispute such claims and argue for equal rights to natural resources. Moore shows why these standard approaches to resource justice are wanting, and offers an original approach that examines the different ways in which people interact with resources in order to determine what good is at stake in any particular case.