Book Bits | 3.30.13

Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology, and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics
By Mark Buchanan
Column by author via Bloomberg
In the not-too-distant future, it’s easy to imagine a U.S. or European Center for Financial Forecasting. Thousands of researchers would oversee massive simulations probing the developing network of interactions among the world’s largest financial players, following the vast web of loans, ownership stakes and other legal claims that link banks, governments, hedge funds, insurance companies and ratings companies.
The computers would test scenarios and calculate hundreds of indicators of systemic leverage, the density of interconnections, or the concentration of risk at single institutions. Experts would probe models of the financial system, looking for weak points and testing resilience, much as engineers now do with models of the electrical grid or other complex systems.

Beyond Liquidity: The Metaphor of Money in Financial Crisis
Edited by Brad Pasanek and Simone Polillo
Summary via publisher, Routledge
‘Liquidity’, or rather lack of it, lies at the heart of the ongoing global financial crisis. In this collection of essays, the metaphor of money as liquidity, and the model of crisis it entails, is deliberated by a range of scholars from economics, history, anthropology, literature, and sociology. This volume offers a rhetorical explanation of the social, cultural, and historical contexts in which metaphors of money are produced, circulate, and fail. These essays, first presented at “After the Crash, Beyond Liquidity,” a conference on money and metaphors held at the University of Virginia, USA, in October of 2009, were drafted in the wake of global uncertainty, TARP bailouts, the Great Recession, programs of stimulus and austerity, and recurrent threats of sovereign default in the EU. They question the language of liquidity and flows that is characteristic of everyday business, exposing what metaphors of money hide and explaining why the idea of liquidity has proved so durable.
The Death of Corporate Reputation: How Integrity Has Been Destroyed on Wall Street (Applied Corporate Finance)
By Jonathan Macey
Summary via publisher, FT Press
Why did the financial scandals really happen? Why are they continuing to happen? In The Death of Corporate Reputation, Yale’s Jonathan Macey reveals the real, non-intuitive reason, and offers a new path forward. For over a century law firms, investment banks, accounting firms, credit rating agencies and companies seeking regular access to U.S. capital markets made large investments in their reputations. They treated customers well and sometimes endured losses in transactions or business deals in order to sustain and nurture their reputations as faithful brokers and “gate-keepers.” This has changed completely. The existing business model among leading participants in today’s capital markets no longer treats customers as valued clients whose trust must be earned and nurtured, but as one-off “counter-parties” to whom no duties are owed and no loyalty is required.
U.S. Energy Policy and the Pursuit of Failure
By Peter Z. Grossman
Summary via publisher, Cambridge University Press
U.S. Energy Policy and the Pursuit of Failure is an analytic history of American energy policy. For the past forty years, the U.S. government has tried to develop comprehensive policies on energy, yet these efforts have failed repeatedly. These failures have not resulted from a lack of will or funds but rather from an inability to differentiate between what could be undertaken and what could actually be accomplished. This book explains how and why various policy efforts have come about, shows why politicians have been eager to back them, and analyzes why they have inevitably failed. Over the past four decades, U.S. energy policy makers have pursued not just policies that have failed but also a policy process that leads to failure.
The Economics of Business Valuation: Towards a Value Functional Approach
By Patrick L. Anderson
Summary via publisher, Stanford University Press
For decades, the market, asset, and income approaches to business valuation have taken center stage in the assessment of the firm. This book brings to light an expanded valuation toolkit, consisting of nine well-defined valuation principles hailing from the fields of economics, finance, accounting, taxation, and management. It ultimately argues that the “value functional” approach to business valuation avoids most of the shortcomings of its competitors, and more correctly matches the actual motivations and information set held by stakeholders.