Book Bits | 3.29.14

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
By Thomas Piketty
Review via The New Yorker
In the stately world of academic presses, it isn’t often that advance orders and publicity for a book prompt a publisher to push forward its publication date. But that’s what Belknap, an imprint of Harvard University Press, did for “Capital in the Twenty-first Century,” a sweeping account of rising inequality by the French economist Thomas Piketty. Reviewing the French edition of Piketty’s book, which came out last year, Branko Milanovic, a former senior economist at the World Bank, called it “one of the watershed books in economic thinking.” The Economist said that it could change the way we think about the past two centuries of economic history. Certainly, no economics book in recent years has received this sort of attention.

Austerity: The Great Failure
By Florian Schui
Summary via publisher, Yale University Press
Austerity is at the center of political debates today. Its defenders praise it as a panacea that will prepare the ground for future growth and stability. Critics insist it will precipitate a vicious cycle of economic decline, possibly leading to political collapse. But the notion that abstinence from consumption brings benefits to states, societies, or individuals is hardly new. This book puts the debates of our own day in perspective by exploring the long history of austerity—a popular idea that lives on despite a track record of dismal failure.

Art as an Investment?
By Melanie Gerlis
Review via The Independent
Should we be putting our money into art? Melanie Gerlis, who works for The Art Newspaper, urges caution in this new book. Why? Because the world of art buying and selling is much trickier, and more slippery and open to abuse, than it seems to the innocent outsider. Who is to say what a contemporary painting, perhaps the work of a single furious night, is really worth?

Capital Wars: The New East-West Challenge for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Economic Success
By Daniel Pinto
Summary via publisher, Bloomsbury
Just a few years is all it took for the debt crisis to bring down the mighty forces of American and European capitalism and undo two centuries of Western dominance on the world’s economic and political stage. In Capital Wars, Daniel Pinto offers a unique insight into how the East is winning the battle for economic supremacy, thereby shaping the new world order and leaving America and Europe with no choice but to reinvent themselves. Drawing on his own experience at the highest levels of business and finance, Pinto dismisses the common notion that globalization is to blame for anemic growth, massive unemployment and over-indebtedness. Instead, he argues that by killing our own entrepreneurial spirit, we have set the stage for the demise of the West and the rise of emerging powers.

Correlation Risk Modeling and Management
By Gunter Meissner
Summary via publisher, Wiley
Ideal for anyone studying for CFA, PRMIA, CAIA, or other certifications, Correlation Risk Modeling and Management is the first rigorous guide to the topic of correlation risk. A relatively overlooked type of risk until it caused major unexpected losses during the financial crisis of 2007 through 2009, correlation risk has become a major focus of the risk management departments in major financial institutions, particularly since Basel III specifically addressed correlation risk with new regulations. This offers a rigorous explanation of the topic, revealing new and updated approaches to modelling and risk managing correlation risk.

The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil
By Christine Bader
Adaptation via
I realized that I am part of a global army of people fighting for better social and environmental practices inside multinational companies — with mixed success. I started to see every corporate disaster in the headlines differently. Instead of being mad at a monolithic, faceless corporation, I wondered about the people who were deep in the company, out of public view, pushing for policies and procedures that might have prevented the disaster from occurring. Why did they fail? How did they feel? And who are they — we — anyway?