Book Bits: 3 September 2022

Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World
Gaia Vince
Review via Datebook
In “Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World,” science writer Gaia Vince (“Transcendence” and “Adventures in the Anthropocene”) addresses how the climate chaos of the coming century will influence where and how we live. The essence of her thesis is simple: “People will have to move to survive.”
The complexity arises in the details: Vince suggests that of the roughly 8 billion people on the planet today, around 3.5 billion will be forced to move north within the next 50 years because “hotter temperatures combined with more intense humidity” will have made their environment unlivable. Which brings us to the thorniest question in this scenario: How? The sheer complexity of such a move is staggering.

Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet
Marian L. Tupy, et al.
Essay by author (Tupy) via The Spectator
By our count, abundance has been doubling every 20 years or so. So, a 60-year-old Westerner has seen his standard of living rise from one to two, from two to four, and from four to 8 in his lifetime. Too slow, you say? That’s the modern mind speaking. Prior to the mid-18th century, life remained pretty much the same for millennia and no one thought that unusual. Generations of people lived and died without seeing or experiencing even the tiniest of improvements in their lives. What’s more, the scope for future improvements is immense.

California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric–and What It Means for America’s Power Grid
Katherine Blunt
Review via The LA Times
Politicians and regulators were played for chumps by Wall Street sharpies, and PG&E customers suffered rolling blackouts as the not-quite-free market failed to provide a reliable supply of electricity. “It was arguably one of the most complicated heists ever undertaken in California,” Blunt writes.
In more recent years, an even graver self-inflicted crisis has come to the fore. Climate change is not only a consequence of energy consumption but also a major threat to its infrastructure. As climate change contributes to the severity of Western wildfires, intense heat waves and cold snaps in Texas and hurricanes along our Eastern coasts, we are also facing a disruptive future that’s likely to include big rate hikes, electric power instability and physical danger.

Hegemony Now: How Big Tech and Wall Street Won the World (And How We Win it Back)
Jeremy Gilbert and Alex Williams
Summary via publisher (Verso Books)
How did we come to live in a world dominated by big tech and finance? Today power is in the hands of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. How do we understand this transformation in power? And what can we do about it? We cannot change anything until we have a better understanding of how power works, who holds it, and why that matters. Through upgrading the concept of hegemony—understanding the importance of passive consent; the complexity of political interests; and the structural force of technology—Jeremy Gilbert and Alex Williams offer us an updated theory of power for the twenty-first century.

The Red Dream: The Chinese Communist Party and the Financial Deterioration of China
Carl E. Walter
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
An eye-opening deep dive into the sources and consequences of how China has financed it’s rise to global economic prominence. In The Red Dream: The Chinese Communist Party and the Financial Deterioration of China, veteran finance executive Carl Walter uses his unique experience in Chinese finance to deepen his exploration of how the Chinese Communist Party finances its obsession with GDP growth and social control. Overwhelmingly debt-fueled, the party’s financial strategy has driven an unsustainable growth in banking and state enterprise assets. Inevitably the party’s own financial health is being severely weakened and China’s future over the next decades put in doubt.

Portfolio Selection and Asset Pricing: Models of Financial Economics and Their Applications in Investing
Jamil Baz, et al.
Summary via publisher (McGraw-Hill)
This uniquely comprehensive guide provides expert insights into everything from financial mathematics to the practical realities of asset allocation and pricing. Investors like you typically have a choice to make when seeking guidance for portfolio selection?either a book of practical, hands-on approaches to your craft or an academic tome of theories and mathematical formulas. From three top experts, Portfolio Selection and Asset Pricing strikes the right balance with an extensive discussion of mathematical foundations of portfolio choice and asset pricing models, and the practice of asset allocation. This thorough guide is conveniently organized into four sections:

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