Book Bits | 28 April 2018

Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism
By Ian Bremmer
Review via CBS News
A new book, “Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism” by Ian Bremmer, looks at some of the consequences of increased international connections, growing nationalism around the world, and support for anti-establishment politicians.
In the book, Bremmer argues that disaffected voters are responsible for the rise of populists like Donald Trump, who won the U.S. presidency by promoting anti-establishment, anti-immigrant and anti-globalist sentiments.
He writes: “It’s easy to find fault with populists like Trump. He’s obnoxious, dishonest, and incompetent. But Donald Trump didn’t create ‘us vs. them.’ ‘Us vs. them’ created Donald Trump, and those who dismiss his supporters are damaging the United States.”

Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth—and How to Fix It
By Dambisa Moyo
Excerpt via
Almost three decades ago, the Berlin Wall fell. A period of barely restrained chaos, turmoil, and stagnation across the Soviet bloc had come to an end, and new market capitalist democracies began to emerge not only in the former Soviet sphere but also throughout the developing world, promising economic prosperity and peace for their citizens. Analysts and economists believed the end of communism portended a new era of stability and growth. Yet less than thirty years later, all signs point toward a world once again on the edge of chaos.

Portfolio Construction for Today’s Markets: A practitioner’s guide to the essentials of asset allocation
By Russ Koesterich
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
For most of the past 50 years the simplest asset allocation solution was often the best. A balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds provided the investor with good returns. Unfortunately, this approach is not likely to work as well in the future. Interest rates are close to historic lows, equity valuations and bond prices appear stretched, and global economic growth has slowed. Investors need a new asset allocation solution. In Portfolio Construction for Today’s Markets, BlackRock Portfolio Manager and investment expert Russ Koesterich addresses this problem by describing the step-by-step approach to building a portfolio consistent with investor goals and suited to today’s market environment.

The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It
By Andrew F. Puzder
Interview with author via Bloomberg
Andy Puzder, former CEO of CKE Restaurants, former Labor Secretary Nominee, and author of “The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It,” discusses his new book and how Donald Trump’s presidency has impacted the U.S. economy. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Amy Morris and Peter Barnes on Bloomberg Radio’s “Politics, Policy, Power and Law.”

The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking
By Saifedean Ammous
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
When a pseudonymous programmer introduced “a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party” to a small online mailing list in 2008, very few paid attention. Ten years later, and against all odds, this upstart autonomous decentralized software offers an unstoppable and globally-accessible hard money alternative to modern central banks. The Bitcoin Standard analyzes the historical context to the rise of Bitcoin, the economic properties that have allowed it to grow quickly, and its likely economic, political, and social implications.

The IMF and the Politics of Austerity in the Wake of the Global Financial Crisis
By Ben Clift
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
This book explores the IMF’s role within the politics of austerity by providing a path-breaking comprehensive analysis of how the IMF approach to fiscal policy has evolved since 2008, and how the IMF worked to alter advanced economy policy responses to the global financial crisis (GFC) and the Eurozone crisis. It updates and refines our understanding of how the IMF seeks to wield ideational power by analysing the Fund’s post-crash their ability to influence what constitutes legitimate knowledge, and their ability fix meanings attached to economic policies within the social process of constructing economic orthodoxy.

When the Wolves Bite:
Two Billionaires, One Company, and an Epic Wall Street Battle

By Scott Wapner
Interview with author via CNBC
Legendary investor Bill Ackman made an incredibly risky move when he bet that nutrition giant Herbalife would be shut down by the government, CNBC’s Scott Wapner said on Wednesday.
Ackman had bet that he would make $1 billion in his short against the nutrition-selling company, accusing it of being a pyramid scheme.
“It was a binary bet and it’s dangerous. He was betting that the government was going to intervene and shut Herbalife down,” Wapner told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. “There was no in-between.”
Wapner’s new book, “When the Wolves Bite: Two Billionaires, One Company, and an Epic Wall Street Battle,” chronicles Ackman’s five-year-long battle against another iconic activist investor, Carl Icahn.

Passing the Torch: Preserving Family Wealth Beyond the Third Generation
By Ilze Alberts
Summary via publisher (Bloomberg/Wiley)
Families need to have vision and foresight to sustain the family’s capital throughout generations. Unfortunately, many of them build wealth effectively but find, near the end of their lives, that it has little sustainability to prepare the next generations that will be the beneficiaries of their hard work. Passing the Torch teaches high net-worth families how to foster a strong family dynamic to be truly generational. Inside, first-generation wealth creators will learn how to create a culture of sustainability and growth and endow subsequent generations with the tools and mindset necessary to prosper. Subsequent generations will learn how to receive the torch, sustain and grow the family’s capital and pass the torch to the next generation.

Trades, Quotes and Prices: Financial Markets Under the Microscope
By Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, et al.
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
The widespread availability of high-quality, high-frequency data has revolutionised the study of financial markets. By describing not only asset prices, but also market participants’ actions and interactions, this wealth of information offers a new window into the inner workings of the financial ecosystem. In this original text, the authors discuss empirical facts of financial markets and introduce a wide range of models, from the micro-scale mechanics of individual order arrivals to the emergent, macro-scale issues of market stability. Throughout this journey, data is king. All discussions are firmly rooted in the empirical behaviour of real stocks, and all models are calibrated and evaluated using recent data from Nasdaq. By confronting theory with empirical facts, this book for practitioners, researchers and advanced students provides a fresh, new, and often surprising perspective on topics as diverse as optimal trading, price impact, the fragile nature of liquidity, and even the reasons why people trade at all.