Book Bits: 28 May 2022

Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas–Not Less
Alex Epstein
Interview with author via Reason
Two basic beliefs frequently circulate today: First, that fossil fuels are causing imminent global catastrophe and, second, that renewable energy sources (especially solar and wind) can supply all our energy needs either right now or in the very near future.
Epstein says that both of those points are wrong. He believes that fossil fuels have contributed to a warming global climate system but argues that they give us more and more mastery over the environment and their renewable replacements can’t scale up to fulfill our needs. Humans, he says, are flourishing like never before precisely because oil, gas, and coal allow us to withstand a world that is very inhospitable to our living here. Wind and solar make up just 3 percent of all energy right now and forcing a fast-paced shift to renewables, he argues, would consign billions of people to poverty or death in order to stave off the impact of man-made climate change, the consequences of which have often been exaggerated and with which humans are equipped to deal.

What’s the Matter with Delaware?: How the First State Has Favored the Rich, Powerful, and Criminal―and How It Costs Us All
Hal Weitzman
Summary via publisher (Princeton U. Press)
The legal home to over a million companies, Delaware has more registered businesses than residents. Why do virtually all of the biggest corporations in the United States register there? Why do so many small companies choose to set up in Delaware rather than their home states? Why do wealthy individuals form multiple layers of private companies in the state? This book reveals how a systematic enterprise lies behind the business-friendly corporate veneer, one that has kept the state afloat financially by diverting public funds away from some of the poorest people in the United States and supporting dictators and criminals across the world.

Where the Money Is: Value Investing in the Digital Age
Adam Seessel
Summary via publisher (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster)
From a successful investor and a contributor to Barron’s and Fortune comes a once-in-a-lifetime book that gives modern investors what they need most: a fresh, value-based guide to making money in a stock market now dominated by tech stocks. Technological change is reshaping the economy in a way not witnessed since Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. A little more than ten years ago, only two of the ten most valuable publicly traded companies in the world were digital enterprises—today, they comprise eight of the top ten. Investors around the world are struggling to understand the Digital Age and how they can use the stock market to profit from it.

The Currency of Politics: The Political Theory of Money from Aristotle to Keynes
Stefan Eich
Reference via New York magazine
When countries keep their rates low, or sink them even further, usually this is done with an eye toward protectionism. The intended effect is often to juice the economy while devaluing the currency to make goods cheaper on the international market, with the hopes that some richer country will spend so much that the economy will turn around. This has already been playing out with the U.S., since GDP shrank by 1.4 percent last quarter, in large part because of the spike in imports.
So why isn’t the Fed being protectionist? I spoke with Stefan Eich, an government professor at Georgetown University whose forthcoming book, The Currency of Politics: The Political Theory of Money from Aristotle to Keynes, is a deeply researched and very well-written history of money’s role in political thought. He said that, in a sense, it is — just for a small subset of the economy: Wall Street. As the U.S. has shown in its weaponization of the financial system, one of its most powerful exports is its own currency system, and this has had the effect of protecting that industry, he said.

To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision
James Stavridis
Essay by author via Time
What can the west do to stop him? How do we tear up the Putin playbook?
First and most simply, the U.S. and the democratic nations globally must shine a light on the actions of this rogue regime. If a burglar is approaching the house, light up the terrain surrounding it. The Biden Administration has done this well, utilizing massive dumps of intelligence and data, staying a step ahead of the Russians in terms of revealing their plans.

The United States vs. China: The Quest for Global Economic Leadership
C. Fred Bergsten
Review via Global Policy
Although Fred Bergsten’s book is titled The United States vs China, his analysis and recommendations suggest that such a contest would threaten not only the global economic order, but also world peace. Instead of a fruitless and damaging struggle for dominance, Bergsten proposes what he terms “conditional competitive cooperation” between the two protagonists. Aside from the alliteration, the term is a clumsy one. At its essence is the case for global systemic cooperation between the two most powerful economic and political powers on earth.

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