Book Bits | 3 November 2018

Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government
By Paul Volcker with Christine Harper
Review via The Atlantic
Paul Volcker’s 6-foot-7-inch frame was draped over a chaise longue when I spoke with him recently in his Upper East Side apartment, in Manhattan. He is in his 91st year and very ill, and he tires easily. But his voice is still gruff, and his brain is still sharp.
We talked about his forthcoming memoir, Keeping at It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government—about why he wrote the book and the lessons he hopes to impart. Volcker is not a vain man, but he knows that his public life was consequential, and he wants posterity to get it right. He also does not mince words. In our conversation, he assailed the “greed and grasping” of the banks and corporate leadership, and the gross skewing of income distribution in America.

Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy
By Stephen Moore and Arthur B. Laffer
Q&A with authors via Marketplace
How is “Trumponomics” distinct from “Bushonomics,” “Reaganomics” or conservative orthodoxy in general? One person who’s offered advice on this topic to President Donald Trump face- to-face is Stephen Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Along with economist Arthur Laffer, who is known as the father of Reagan-style supply-side economics, Moore has just come out with a new book, “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.”

How Persistent Low Returns Will Shape Saving and Retirement
Edited by Olivia S. Mitchel, et al.
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Financial market developments over the past decade have undermined what was once thought to be conventional wisdom about saving, investment, and retirement spending. How Persistent Low Returns Will Shape Saving and Retirement explores how the weak capital market performance predicted for the next several years will shape pension saving, investment, and decumulation plans. Academics, policymakers, and industry leaders debate alternative strategies to cope with these challenges globally, as economic growth remains slow and low returns become the ‘new normal.’

Central Banks, Democratic States and Financial Power
By Jocelyn Pixley
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
When the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of England purchased bank and state debt during the 2007–2008 crisis, it became apparent that, when technically divorced from fiscal policy, monetary policy cannot revive but only prevent economic activity deteriorating further. Pixley explains how conflicting social forces shape the diverse, complex relations of central banks to the money production of democracies and the immense money creation by capitalist banking. Central banks are never politically neutral and, despite unfair demands, are unable to prevent collapses to debt deflation or credit/asset inflation. They can produce debilitating depressions but not the recoveries desired in democracies and unwanted by capitalist banks or war finance logics.

Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat
By Marion Nestle
Review via MarketWatch
If you’re buying avocados because they’re a superfood, nibbling on dark chocolate because of its antioxidant properties and sipping a soda now and then because you can just work it off at the gym, you’ve been had.
In her new book, “Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat,” Marion Nestle, an NYU professor in nutrition, food studies and public health, delivers unsettling news. A vast amount of nutritional research is funded and influenced by the food industry, who use “science” as a marketing tool, making unhealthy foods seem OK and turning wholesome foods into incredible cure-alls — often against the interest of public health and defying common sense.