Book Bits |29 October 2016

No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea
By James Livingston
Summary via publisher (University of North Carolina Press)
For centuries we’ve believed that work was where you learned discipline, initiative, honesty, self-reliance–in a word, character. A job was also, and not incidentally, the source of your income: if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat, or else you were stealing from someone. If only you worked hard, you could earn your way and maybe even make something of yourself. In recent decades, through everyday experience, these beliefs have proven spectacularly false. In this book, James Livingston explains how and why Americans still cling to work as a solution rather than a problem–why it is that both liberals and conservatives announce that “full employment” is their goal when job creation is no longer a feasible solution for any problem, moral or economic.

Frontier Investor: How to Prosper in the Next Emerging Markets
By Marko Dimitrijevic with Timothy Mistele
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
Where are the next decade’s greatest investment opportunities? Veteran investor Marko Dimitrijevic argues that they can be found in frontier markets, which account for seventy-one of the world’s seventy-five fastest-growing economies and 19 percent of the world’s GDP. Yet many investors ignore them. Fueled by new access to technology and information, frontier markets are emerging even faster than their predecessors, making them an essential component of a globally diversified portfolio.

Something for Nothing: Arbitrage and Ethics on Wall Street
By Maureen O’Hara
Review via The Atlantic
The financial scandals of the past decade have left many Americans wondering whether or not Wall Street is an inherently immoral place. Does finance attract people who are comfortable with doing morally dubious things? Or, perhaps worse, does it simply turn good people bad?
Maureen O’Hara, a professor of finance at Cornell University’s business school and the author of the recent book Something for Nothing: Arbitrage and Ethics on Wall Street, would say no to both questions. In her book, O’Hara provides a detailed accounting of common financial strategies, and then analyzes recent scandals, weighing in on whether or not the strategies at play in them were unethical.

Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy
By Edward Alden
Summary via publisher (Rowman & Littlefield)
Americans know that something has gone wrong in this country’s effort to prosper in the face of growing global economic competition. The vast benefits promised by the supporters of globalization, and by their own government, have never materialized for most Americans. This book is the story of what went wrong, and how to correct the course. It is a compelling history of the last four decades of US economic and trade policies that have left Americans unable to adapt to or compete in the current global marketplace. Failure to Adjust argues that, despite the deep partisan divisions over how best to respond to America’s competitive challenges, there is achievable common ground on such issues as fostering innovation, overhauling tax rules to encourage investment in the United States, boosting graduation rates, investing in infrastructure, and streamlining regulations.

Civil Economy: Another Idea of the Market
By Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni
Summary via publisher (Agenda Publishing)
Global financial capitalism has eroded the moral economy on which all economic exchanges ultimately depend. The principles of reciprocity, responsibility and redistribution, which for centuries defined the market place, have been increasingly pushed aside by a growth model that places the pursuit of profit above all else. Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni draw on a rich Italian tradition of civic humanism to advocate a more well-mannered type of economic market – a civil economy – one that places well-being, virtue and the common good alongside more familiar economic goals. They provide a succinct introduction to the civil economy approach and outline the thought and ideas of some of its pioneers and main representatives. The many different fields of application of the civil economy, from the determination of gross domestic product to the management of common goods, from welfare to the organization of production and consumption, are considered.

How Change Happens
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Human society is full of would-be “change agents,” a restless mix of campaigners, lobbyists, and officials, both individuals and organizations, set on transforming the world. They want to improve public services, reform laws and regulations, guarantee human rights, get a fairer deal for those on the sharp end, achieve greater recognition for any number of issues, or simply be treated with respect. Striking then, why so many universities lack programs for social activists, to which students can turn for advice and inspiration. Instead, scholarly discussions of change are fragmented with few conversations crossing disciplinary boundaries, rarely making it onto the radar of those actively seeking change. This book bridges the gap between academia and practice, bringing together the best research from a range of academic disciplines and the evolving practical understanding of activists to explore the topic of social and political change.