Book Bits | 27 June 2015

The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs
By Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips
Review via Financial Times
Hackers, pirates and swindlers, rather than visionary chief executives, should be the inspiration for business leaders. That is the view set out in “The Misfit Economy,” by Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips.
The book’s principal contention is that “the free market economy does not possess a monopoly on innovation.”
They suggest five key principles to help discover your “inner misfit.”
They are hustling (“spotting an idea and going for it”); copying (which they describe as “collective innovation”); and hacking (taking on the establishment and getting “to know a system intimately in order to more effectively take it apart”).

Hollowed Out: Why the Economy Doesn’t Work without a Strong Middle Class
By David Madland
Summary via publisher (University of California Press)
For the past several decades, politicians and economists thought that high levels of inequality were good for the economy. But because America’s middle class is now so weak, the US economy suffers from the kinds of problems that plague less-developed countries. As Hollowed Out explains, to have strong, sustainable growth, the economy needs to work for everyone and expand from the middle out. This new thinking has the potential to supplant trickle-down economics—the theory that was so wrong about inequality and our economy—and shape economic policymaking for generations.

Systemic Risk, Crises, and Macroprudential Regulation
By Xavier Freixas, Luc Laeven and José-Luis Peydró
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
The recent financial crisis has shattered all standard approaches to banking regulation. Regulators now recognize that banking regulation cannot be simply based on individual financial institutions’ risks. Instead, systemic risk and macroprudential regulation have come to the forefront of the new regulatory paradigm. Yet our knowledge of these two core aspects of regulation is still limited and fragmented. This book offers a framework for understanding the reasons for the regulatory shift from a microprudential to a macroprudential approach to financial regulation. It defines systemic risk and macroprudential policy, cutting through the generalized confusion as to their meaning; contrasts macroprudential to microprudential approaches; discusses the interaction of macroprudential policy with macroeconomic policy (monetary policy in particular); and describes macroprudential tools and experiences with macroprudential regulation around the world.

Population Control: How Corporate Owners Are Killing Us
By Jim Marrs
Press release via publisher (HarperCollins/William Morrow)
From the food we eat, the water we drink to the air we breathe, everything these days seems capable of killing us. Recently we have seen an unprecedented number of deaths due to medications for diseases that may not even exist, obscure cancers caused by our modern devices, and brutal police tactics. All a coincidence? Think again. In Population Control, acclaimed journalist Jim Marrs lays out a stunning case for his most audacious conspiracy yet: the scheme concocted by a handful of global elites to reduce the world’s population to 500 million by whatever means necessary and make a profit from it.

The Influence Machine: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Capture of American Life
By Alyssa Katz
Review via Kirkus Reviews
Of graft, fictional math, and the American way: an urgent look at the “political assault weapon” that is transforming the country—for the better if you’re rich, for the worse if you’re not.
That the 1 percent is now wholly in charge and the United States has become the world’s largest plutocracy are facts that would seem indisputable, much like climate change—which isn’t to say that they won’t be disputed. How we got there is another matter. Katz (Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us, 2009), an investigative journalist and member of the editorial board of the New York Daily News, does invaluable work in tracing how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a relentless engine for pressing a “business of enterprise unfettered by government.” It accomplishes its ends by taking the millions of dollars channeled into the chamber by its member organizations and pouring them into the coffers of powerful lobbyists to battle such nefarious things as the requirement that long-haul truckers take a certain number of hours off for every number of hours that they drive.