● Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future
By Johan Norberg
Review via The Economist
Humans are a gloomy species. Some 71% of Britons think the world is getting worse; only 5% think it is improving. Asked whether global poverty had fallen by half, doubled or remained the same in the past 20 years, only 5% of Americans answered correctly that it had fallen by half. This is not simple ignorance, observes Johan Norberg, a Swedish economic historian and the author of a new book called “Progress”. By guessing randomly, a chimpanzee would pick the right answer (out of three choices) far more often.
● The New Frontier Investors: How Pension Funds, Sovereign Funds, and Endowments are Changing the Business of Investment Management and Long-Term Investing
By Jagdeep Singh Bachher, et al.
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
Who holds the power in financial markets? For many, the answer would probably be the large investment banks, big asset managers, and hedge funds. These are the organizations that are in the media’s spotlight and whose leaders and employees command outsized salaries and bonuses. They are the supposed leading edge of global finance and their power seems almost absolute, even as questions abound about their social and economic utility. But more and more asset owners are confronting the status quo, the power to exact high fees and the focus on the short term. The New Frontier Investors chronicles the rise of this new group of long horizon asset owners that includes some of the world’s largest pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and endowments. These asset owners are driving the business of asset management to a new frontier by retaking responsibility of the end-to-end management of their investment portfolios and by re-conceptualizing investment decision-making.
● The Marine Corps Way to Win on Wall Street: 11 Key Principles from Battlefield to Boardroom
By Ken Marlin
Summary via publisher (St. Martin’s Press)
Many Americans view Wall Street as a bastion of greed and corruption; a place that attracts people who don’t deserve the money they make but are willing to break the law to get more of it. Yet for all their mistrust, many of these same Americans believe that Wall Street is essential for our economy to function. How do we fix it? Send in the Marines. Known for its exemplary discipline, the Marine Corps ensures victory by obeying key commands, such as: establish clear, tactical objectives; know the terrain before heading into battle; identify and capitalize on combat advantages; control timing; leverage complementary skills within the unit; negotiate from a morally defensible position; harness strength of leadership to craft a bulletproof plan. Ken Marlin served ten years’ active duty as a Marine officer before taking on the financial sector. He’s seen this program of pride, professionalism, and fidelity work – from the battlefield to the boardroom.
● The Euro and the Battle of Ideas
By Markus K. Brunnermeier, et al.
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Why is Europe’s great monetary endeavor, the Euro, in trouble? A string of economic difficulties in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and other Eurozone nations has left observers wondering whether the currency union can survive. In this book, Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James, and Jean-Pierre Landau argue that the core problem with the Euro lies in the philosophical differences between the founding countries of the Eurozone, particularly Germany and France. But the authors also show how these seemingly incompatible differences can be reconciled to ensure Europe’s survival.
● The Anatomy of Inequality: Its Social and Economic Origins- and Solutions
By Per Molander
Summary via publisher (Melville House)
From a country with one of the world’s lowest rates of income and social inequality comes a clear-eyed and timeless account that recalls Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In The Anatomy of Inequality, Swedish analyst Per Molander examines the development of social and economic inequity throughout the modern world, its history, and what can be done about it. By mining cultural history, Molander inventively addresses the obvious questions often avoided—including why the wealthiest countries, such as the United States, have the greatest incidences of inequality.
● Postmodern Portfolio Theory: Navigating Abnormal Markets and Investor Behavior (Quantitative Perspectives on Behavioral Economics and Finance)
By James Ming Chen
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
This survey of portfolio theory, from its modern origins through more sophisticated, “postmodern” incarnations, evaluates portfolio risk according to the first four moments of any statistical distribution: mean, variance, skewness, and excess kurtosis. In pursuit of financial models that more accurately describe abnormal markets and investor psychology, this book bifurcates beta on either side of mean returns. It then evaluates this traditional risk measure according to its relative volatility and correlation components.
● Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy
By Richard Feinberg
Summary via publisher (Brookings Institution Press)
Ninety miles across the Straits of Florida, an exciting new revolution is afoot. This time, instead of guerillas marching down the streets of Havana, it is a global economy that will upend Cuba. Now opening to the world, what new forms is this nascent economy likely to take? Open for Business: Building The New Cuban Economy, Richard E. Feinberg’s new book, examines the Cuban economy as it makes its early steps into developing a more dynamic market economy. He examines key issues like the role foreign investors will play, how Cubans will forge a path to entrepreneurship, and the roadmaps suggested by other emerging economies.
● Rent Unmasked: How to Save the Global Economy and Build a Sustainable Future
Edited by Fred Harrison
Summary via publisher (Shepheard-Walwyn)
Rent Unmasked explores the new economic paradigm that policy-makers need to solve global problems in the post-2008 era. With conventional economic theories discredited, the new model must equip governments with tools to re-stabilise societies in a dangerous world. Rent Unmasked explains why one paradigm only qualifies to serve this purpose: the dynamic model that reinstates time and space in economic theorising.
The Flat Earth economics of the neo-classical school is analysed by the 13 contributors to this volume, which honours the seminal role played by Mason Gaffney, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of California (Riverside), in exposing the way in which classical economics was debased to serve rent-seeking interests.
● Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West
By John Fleck
Summary via publisher (Island Press)
When we think of water in the West, we think of conflict and crisis. In recent years, newspaper headlines have screamed, “Scarce water and the death of California farms,” “The Dust Bowl returns,” “A ‘megadrought’ will grip U.S. in the coming decades.” Yet similar stories have been appearing for decades and the taps continue to flow. John Fleck argues that the talk of impending doom is not only untrue, but dangerous. When people get scared, they fight for the last drop of water; but when they actually have less, they use less.