Book Bits: 3 October 2020

When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency
Roger L. Martin
Summary via publisher (Harvard U. Press)
Growth in the economic prosperity of the average American family has slowed to a crawl, while the wealth of the richest Americans has skyrocketed. This imbalance threatens the American democratic capitalist system and our way of life. In this bracing yet constructive book, world-renowned business thinker Roger Martin starkly outlines the fundamental problem: We have treated the economy as a machine, pursuing ever-greater efficiency as an inherent good. But efficiency has become too much of a good thing.

Big Dirty Money: The Shocking Injustice and Unseen Cost of White Collar Crime
Jennifer Taub
Review via San Francisco Chronicle
“White collar crime, like cancer or influenza, comes in many forms,” legal scholar Jennifer Taub writes in her blood-boiling new book, “Big Dirty Money,” where she examines white-collar crime in America and the ensemble of forces that enable it. Since these frauds profit by deception rather than violence, they are often considered “victimless crimes.” Not so. As Taub eloquently sketches, the victims are “the elderly couple who loses life savings to a Ponzi scheme. Hurricane victims who suffer twice when housed in toxic-gas-emitting trailers. The hard-working high school senior rejected from college because a classmate’s family paid off a coach to gain admission

The Modern Detective: How Corporate Intelligence Is Reshaping the World
Tyler Maroney
Summary via publisher (Penguin Random House)
Today’s world is complicated: companies are becoming more powerful than nations, the lines between public and corporate institutions grow murkier, and the internet is shredding our privacy. To combat these onslaughts, people everywhere — rich and not so rich, in business and in their personal lives — are turning away from traditional police, lawyers, and government regulators toward a new champion: the private investigator. As a private investigator, Tyler Maroney has traveled the globe, overseeing sensitive investigations and untying complicated cases for a wide array of clients. In his new book, he shows that it’s private eyes who today are being called upon to catch corrupt politicians, track down international embezzlers, and mine reams of data to reveal which CEOs are lying.

Taming the Megabanks: Why We Need a New Glass-Steagall Act
Arthur E. Wilmarth Jr
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
In Taming the Megabanks, Arthur Wilmarth argues that we must again separate banks from securities markets to avoid another devastating financial crisis and ensure that our financial system serves Main Street business firms and consumers instead of Wall Street bankers and speculators. Wilmarth’s comprehensive and detailed analysis demonstrates that a new Glass-Steagall Act would make our financial system much more stable and less likely to produce boom-and-bust cycles. Giant universal banks would no longer dominate our financial system or receive enormous subsidies. A more decentralized and competitive financial system would encourage banks and securities firms to fulfill their proper roles as servants – not masters – of Main Street businesses and consumers.

Liberty from All Masters: The New American Autocracy vs. the Will of the People
Barry C. Lynn
Review via Washington Monthly
Barry C. Lynn, author and executive director of the Open Markets Institute, an antitrust advocacy group, has been sounding the alarm about monopolies for years. In his new book, Liberty from All Masters, he insists that monopolies are ultimately a political problem. As surely as Americans are citizens in a democracy, they are citizens in a political economy. But with their far-reaching and subtle powers, monopolies undermine our agency in the economic sphere of life. Indirectly, they threaten democratic self-governance, too.

Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem and How to Fix It
Maëlle Gavet
Interview with author via Bloomberg
Maëlle Gavet, Former COO at Compass, discusses her new book “Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem and How to Fix It.” She talks about why it’s important for business leaders to care about the impact their companies have on the world.

Out of the Ether: The Amazing Story of Ethereum and the $55 Million Heist that Almost Destroyed It All
Matthew Leising
Excerpt via Coindesk
Bloomberg News reporter Mathew Leising’s new book, “Out of the Ether: The Amazing Story of Ethereum and the $55 Million Heist That Almost Destroyed It All”, tells the story of the infamous DAO [decentralized autonomous organization] hack that almost brought down the world’s second-largest blockchain.

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