Book Bits: 27 November 2021

The Allocator’s Edge: A modern guide to alternative investments and the future of diversification
Phil Huber
Interview with author via Morningstar
Our guest this week is Phil Huber. He is chief investment officer at Savant Wealth Management, a fee-only registered investment advisor. Previously, Huber worked for Huber Financial Advisors, which Savant acquired in 2020. Huber is active in the financial blogosphere with his blog bps and He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and has earned both the Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Analyst designations. Huber is also the author of a new book, The Allocator’s Edge: A Modern Guide to Alternative Investments and the Future of Diversification.

American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History
Casey Michel
Summary via publisher (Macmillan)
For years, one country has acted as the greatest offshore haven in the world, attracting hundreds of billions of dollars in illicit finance tied directly to corrupt regimes, extremist networks, and the worst the world has to offer. But it hasn’t been the sand-splattered Caribbean islands, or even traditional financial secrecy havens like Switzerland or Panama, that have come to dominate the offshoring world. Instead, the country profiting the most also happens to be the one that still claims to be the moral leader of the free world, and the one that claims to be leading the fight against the crooked and the corrupt: the USA.

The Rise of Technosocialism: How Inequality, AI and Climate will Usher in a New World
Brett King and Dr. Richard Petty
Interview with co-author Brett King via The Big Tech Show
It’s 20 years into the future. Robots are cleaning our beaches and rivers. Advanced technology lets us mine asteroids and collect materials on the moon. And while tech trillionaires enjoy the greatest concentration of wealth in human history, advanced countries now give a universal basic income to all citizens, eliminating poverty and allowing people to focus more on jobs they’d much prefer to do. Sound like a fantasy? Not to our guest this week, the futurist Brett King. Together with Dr Richard Petty, he has written a new book called The Rise Of Techno Socialism — How Inequality, AI and Climate will usher in a new world

The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back
Review via Washington Monthly
Privatization is one of the English language’s more woebegone words. It’s a plug-ugly Frankenstein’s monster of a term—a noun born of a verb carved out of an adjective. And nobody can quite agree on what it means. To some, it refers to contracting out the delivery of publicly funded services. To others, it’s transferring governmental assets to private hands. Still others take the broad view, labeling as privatization the overall shrinkage of the public sector. Donald Cohen and Allen Mikaelian say it’s all of the above, and they say to hell with it.

Woke Capitalism: How Corporate Morality is Sabotaging Democracy
Carl Rhodes
Excerpt via The Guardian
Corporations have always interfered in politics, but what is different now is that they are publicly supporting “progressive” political causes. These apparently left-leaning businesses have been derided as “woke capitalists” by conservative media commentators who believe that businesses have capitulated under pressure from the left instead of staying steadfast to their mission of serving shareholders.

The Deals of Warren Buffett Volume 3: Making America’s largest company
Glen Arnold
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
In this third volume of The Deals of Warren Buffett, we trace Warren Buffett’s journey as he made Berkshire Hathaway the largest company in America. When we left Buffett at the end of Volume 2, he had reached a fortune of $1bn. In this enthralling next instalment, we follow Buffett’s investment deals over the decade from 1989 to 1998, as Berkshire shares jumped 14-fold from $4,700 to $68,000 and its market cap grew from $5bn to $100bn.

The Everyday Practice of Valuation and Investment: Political Imaginaries of Shareholder Value
Horacio Ortiz
Summary via publisher (Columbia U. Press)
The financial industry derives its legitimacy through the claim that it acts in the interest of shareholders. A vast international network of funds, banks, insurance companies, brokerages, rating agencies, and regulatory agencies defends its status by asserting that market mechanisms determine a company’s true value and therefore enriching shareholders contributes to the socially optimal allocation of capital. Is this how stock prices are determined in practice? What does stock valuation reveal about the supposed efficiency of markets and what it means to act on behalf of shareholders? Horacio Ortiz provides a critical analysis of the social institutions and practices that produce and regulate stock pricing and valuation.

The Case for a Debt Jubilee
Richard Vague
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
We were drowning in in record levels of debt before the COVID-19 crisis, and we are now deluged in it. U.S. private-sector loans have tripled relative to income since 1950 – and government debt is also at an all-time high. Soaring debt burdens individuals, stifles growth, compounds inequality, and brings falling living standards for millions. Richard Vague’s new book argues that, contrary to mainstream assumptions, we cannot simply hope that the trend will correct itself. Mounting debt is a feature of our economic system, not a bug: debts perpetually grow and compound, polarizing and impoverishing economies if not overtly dealt with.

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