Book Bits | 3 June 2017

The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America
By Rick Wartzman
Review via Publishers Weekly
Wartzman, a senior advisor at the Drucker Institute, documents the deterioration of company-employee loyalty at some of America’s corporate giants in this insightful economic history. Identifying the “great American dream” as having a “good job”—a dream that’s increasingly precarious—he notes driving for Uber as a perfect example of many jobs in the U.S. today that involve no real, long-term commitment between employer and employee. He cites dismal statistics about many Americans being unprepared for retirement due to low pay, poor pension benefits, and increased medical costs, all while corporate earnings climb to historic highs. In order to understand how this came to pass, he examines four companies—General Electric, General Motors, Kodak, and Coca-Cola—over the past 70 years. He identifies a combination of factors as responsible for weakening the corporate social compact: globalization, company-wide spates of downsizing, ineffective unions, and more. Perhaps most significant is the elevation of shareholders over employees.

America’s Free Market Myths: Debunking Market Fundamentalism
By Joseph Shaanan
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
This book describes and refutes thirteen ideas involving free market principles and the US economic system, arguing that these (mostly familiar) ideas are myths. The myths are deeply ingrained in the United States’ self-image and in political discourse, and are hailed as indisputable, scientifically grounded truths. Unfortunately, an economy dominated by giant corporations bears little resemblance to a free market. So why is so much effort and expense devoted to disseminating these stories? The answer is simple. The different myths generate the recommendation that the system’s rewards should flow upward to corporations and a small group of wealthy and politically influential people. The myths help entrench existing economic and political power while distancing America from a more productive and widely beneficial form of capitalism.

Financial Behavior: Players, Services, Products, and Markets
Edited by H. Kent Baker, et al.
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Financial Behavior: Players, Services, Products, and Markets provides a synthesis of the theoretical and empirical literature on the financial behavior of major stakeholders, financial services, investment products, and financial markets. The book offers a different way of looking at financial and emotional well-being and processing beliefs, emotions, and behaviors related to money. The book provides important insights about cognitive and emotional biases that influence various financial decision-makers, services, products, and markets. With diverse concepts and topics, the book brings together noted scholars and practitioners so readers can gain an in-depth understanding about this topic from experts from around the world.

Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity
By Nj Ayuk and João Gaspar Marques
Summary via publisher (Clink Street Publishing)
Big Barrels takes aim at the perception that in Africa oil and gas can do no good. For decades, resource wealth in Sub-Saharan Africa has been synonymous with corruption and dysfunction. The reality is far more complex and generally more encouraging. In a series of eight case studies Big Barrels looks at what African nations are doing right. Employment and enterprise in Nigeria, good governance in Ghana, economic development in Tanzania, environmental stewardship in Gabon, and more – these are all elements of success in African nations’ petroleum industries today.