Book Bits | 29 November 2014

Brandes on Value: The Independent Investor
By Charles Brandes
Review via Reading The Markets
Brandes on Value: The Independent Investor (McGraw-Hill) is a paean to the “practicality and universal application of Graham-and-Dodd principles.” Charles H. Brandes became a convert to value investing through a most unlikely encounter. In 1971, three years out of college and a broker/analyst in San Diego, he was taking his turn keeping an eye out for the admittedly rare walk-in brokerage customer “when an elderly, unassuming man walked through the door.” That man was Benjamin Graham—yes, the Benjamin Graham. Graham was spending his winters in La Jolla and wanted to open an account so he could buy a stock he had been tracking for months. Well, one thing led to another, and soon enough Brandes was hooked. In 1974, a year that most investors would have considered inauspicious but Graham called “an excellent time to launch a venture of this sort,” Brandes opened his own firm. Forty years later he remains convinced that “the fundamentals of value investing [make] total practical sense for long-term investors.” (p. xiv)

One-Month Money: Why money ruins our economy – and how reinventing it could end unemployment and inflation forever
By Oliver Davies with Ruggero Bozotti
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
Our modern system of money is a marvel, enabling complex trade and economic growth on a scale never known before. But money also carries a fatal flaw: it can be hoarded forever, and whenever we hoard we depress spending and distort interest rates. The result is a dreaded sequence of boom-and-bust that we know as the business cycle, an endless swing from unemployment to inflation and back again. But it doesn’t have to be this way. One-Month Money begins as an eye-opening demonstration of how modern money is often our own worst economic enemy, and ends by proposing a controversial and innovative solution: a simple reinvention of money that would end recessions, inflation and unemployment forever. By rewiring the banking system and giving money a monthly expiry date, we can create a system of money with all its current benefits and none of its drawbacks, a system where money greases the wheels of global production without ever destabilising it.

Fiscal Therapy: A Rehab Program for America’s Addiction to Debt
By William G. Gale
Summary via publisher (Brookings Institution Press)
In just a few short years, federal budget deficits and the national debt rose from obscurity to become America’s newest obsession. Unfortunately, while interest in the issue has grown, rigid ideology and an increasingly vitriolic and entrenched public dialogue have crowded out thoughtful discourse, preventing even basic education on budgets, the deficit, and the role of government. Fiscal Therapy is an antidote to the demagoguery and half-truths. It explains the scope and nature of the deficit problem facing the United States and offers sensible, balanced, workable solutions in clear language, drawing on national history, the experiences of other countries, and economic analysis. According to author William G. Gale, what is at stake in solving the deficit problem is the social contract that governs how Americans interact with their government.

Trading Thalesians: What the Ancient World Can Teach Us About Trading Today
By Saeed Amen
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
What can the ancient world teach us about modern money markets? How can we use examples from the ancient world, philosophers and writers to better understand the markets? Just as historians such as Herodotus living in ancient Greece examined the past, can traders look to their past to learn something new? In this exciting new book, Saeed Amen looks to the ancient world to help us better understand modern money markets, demonstrating what ancient philosophers can teach us about trading markets today, and showing readers how to maximize their returns.

The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution
By Jonathan McMillan
Review via FT Alphaville
Could the real cause of today’s financial malaise have less to do with greedy bankers, bad regulation and poor monetary policy, and more to do with the effects of the information technology age on banking?
That at least is the argument proposed in a new book, “The end of banking – money, credit and the digital revolution” by Jonathan McMillan, a collective pseudonym for two authors who are keeping their identities secret, but who hail from the world of banking and academia.
Not to say the financial system was free of instability before the IT age, it’s just that the way in which the instability was dealt with was entirely different.
The authors argue that whilst credit had to be recorded on paper in the industrial age, in the information age it suddenly became possible to record credit electronically. This one fact made all the difference.

A Hercules in the Cradle: War, Money, and the American State, 1783-1867
By Max M. Edling
Summary via publisher (Chicago University Press)
Two and a half centuries after the American Revolution the United States stands as one of the greatest powers on earth and the undoubted leader of the western hemisphere. This stupendous evolution was far from a foregone conclusion at independence. The conquest of the North American continent required violence, suffering, and bloodshed. It also required the creation of a national government strong enough to go to war against, and acquire territory from, its North American rivals.