Book Bits | 3 August 2019

We’re Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America
By Jennifer M. Silva
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
The economy has been brutal to American workers for several decades. The chance to give one’s children a better life than one’s own — the promise at the heart of the American Dream — is withering away. While onlookers assume those suffering in marginalized working-class communities will instinctively rise up, the 2016 election threw into sharp relief how little we know about how the working-class translate their grievances into politics. In We’re Still Here, Jennifer M. Silva tells a deep, multi-generational story of pain, place, and politics that will endure long after the Trump administration. Drawing on over 100 interviews with black, white, and Latino working-class residents of a declining coal town in Pennsylvania, Silva reveals how the decline of the American Dream is lived and felt.

The Laws of Trading: A Trader’s Guide to Better Decision-Making for Everyone
By Agustin Lebron
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Every decision is a trade. Learn to think about the ones you should do — and the ones you shouldn’t. Trading books generally break down into two categories: the ones which claim to teach you how to make money trading, and the memoir-style books recounting scandals and bad behavior. But the former don’t have profitable trades to teach; if they did they’d keep those trades to themselves. And the latter are frequently entertaining, but they don’t leave you with much you can apply in your own life. The Laws of Trading is different. All of our relationships and decisions involve trading at some level. This is a book about decision-making through the lens of a professional prop trader.

Ecomodernism: Technology, Politics and The Climate Crisis
By Jonathan Symons
Summary via publisher (Polity)
Is climate catastrophe inevitable? In a world of extreme inequality, rising nationalism and mounting carbon emissions, the future looks gloomy. Yet one group of environmentalists, the ‘ecomodernists’, are optimistic. They argue that technological innovation and universal human development hold the keys to an ecologically vibrant future. However, this perspective, which advocates fighting climate change with all available technologies – including nuclear power, synthetic biology and others not yet invented – is deeply controversial because it rejects the Green movement’s calls for greater harmony with nature.

Economics: A Crash Course: Become An Instant Expert
By David Boyle and Andrew Simms
Summary via publisher (Ivy Press/Quarto)
Not long ago, economic theories were generally based on a narrow set of principles. Then the continuing boom–bust cycle combined with the failure of the best economic minds to ensure that prosperity spreads down through the economy has left a series of very obvious question marks, and the orthodoxy has been challenged from inside and outside the profession. It now seems clear that human beings and the planet have to be brought into the analysis. The first chapter goes right back to the debate about the purposes for which money was originally invented. The Big Ideas chapter builds up a picture of the key ideas that have driven economic theories. Economics and People derives insights into the way that money and economics works from the way that people actually behave. Economics and the Planet covers some of the economic insights that have come from those whose expertise has been biological or environmental.

The Purpose of Banking: Transforming Banking for Stability and Economic Growth
By Anjan V. Thakor
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Banks and other financial institutions play a fundamental and yet divisive role in the health of any economy. As lenders they are important to everyone seeking a mortgage or a car loan. As investors they are essential gears of economic progress. And yet when crises hit and the economy tumbles, they are vilified. Is it possible for the banking and financial sectors to both be crisis-free and sustain economic growth that benefits everyone? This is the central question that Anjan Thakor, one of the leading analysts of banking and financial institutions, takes up in this insightful overview of the purpose of banking.

Innovation Commons: The Origin of Economic Growth
By Jason Potts
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Innovation is among the most important topics in understanding economic sustained economic growth. Jason Potts argues that the initial stages of innovation require cooperation under uncertainty and draws from insights on the solving of commons problems to shed light on policies and conditions conducive to the creation of new firms and industries. The problems of innovation commons are overcome, Potts shows, when there are governance institutions that incentivize cooperation, thereby facilitating the pooling of distributed information, knowledge, and other inputs.

The Case for Carbon Dividends
By James K. Boyce
Summary via publisher (Polity)
The supreme challenge of our time is tackling climate change. We urgently need to curtail our use of fossil fuels – but how can we do so in a just and feasible way?In this compelling book, leading economist James Boyce shows that the key to solving this conundrum is to put a limit on carbon emissions, thereby raising the price of fossil fuels and generating strong incentives for clean energy. But there is a formidable hurdle: how do we secure broad public support for a policy that increases fuel costs for consumers?

Foundations of Economic Psychology: A Behavioral and Mathematical Approach
By Kazuhisa Takemura
Summary via publisher (Springer)
This book provides an overview of the concept of economic psychology from behavioral and mathematical perspectives and related theoretical and empirical findings. Economic psychology is defined briefly as a general term for descriptive theories to explain the psychological processes of microeconomic behaviors and macroeconomic phenomena. However, the psychological methodology and knowledge of economic psychology have also been applied widely in such fields as economics, business administration, and engineering, and they are expected to become increasingly useful in the future—a trend suggested in several eminent scholars’ studies.

Incerto (Deluxe Edition): Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, The Bed of Procrustes, Antifragile, Skin in the Game
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Summary via publisher (Penguin Random House)
The landmark five-book series—now in a beautifully designed, cloth-bound deluxe hardcover boxed set. The Incerto is an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision making when we don’t understand the world, expressed in the form a personal essay with autobiographical sections, stories, parables, and philosophical, historical, and scientific discussions, in non-overlapping volumes that can be accessed in any order. The main thread is that while there is inordinate uncertainty about what is going on, there is great certainty as to what one should do about it. This deluxe boxed set includes: