Book Bits | 4.12.14

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
By Matt Taibbi
Review via The LA Times
Matt Taibbi begins his sixth book, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap,” with a simple formulation: “Poverty goes up; Crime goes down; Prison population doubles.” It’s a snapshot, a way to represent what Taibbi sees as the through-the-looking-glass reality of contemporary America, where rule of law has been subverted by, on the one hand, corporate greed and, on the other, a kind of institutionalized abuse of the poor.

The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System
By James Rickards
Adaptation via The American
The coming collapse of the dollar and the international monetary system is entirely foreseeable. This is not a provocative conclusion. The international monetary system has collapsed three times in the past century — in 1914, 1939, and 1971. Each collapse was followed by a tumultuous period. The coming collapse, like those before, may involve war, gold, or chaos, or it could involve all three. The most imminent threats to the dollar, likely to play out in the next few years, are financial warfare, deflation, hyperinflation, and market collapse. Only nations and individuals who make provision today will survive the maelstrom to come.

Nowcasting The Business Cycle: A Practical Guide For Spotting Business Cycle Peaks Ahead Of The Crowd
By James Picerno
Summary by author via
This short title can be thought of as a companion guide to the macro updates on The Capital Spectator (see here and here, for instance). The methodology outlined in the book is the econometric engine for the monthly releases of the US Economic Profile. Those updates, by the way, have an encouraging track record. As regular readers know, the Economic Trend and Momentum indices have consistently told us that recession risk has been relatively low for some time. That may be obvious now, but it’s been a controversial call at times. Indeed, some analysts have insisted that trouble was just around the corner. But the data has been clear all along. In February 2013, for instance, I wrote a piece for Bloomberg Briefs that argued that recession risk was low. A number of high-profile analysts at the time were saying the opposite—a new recession was imminent, they warned. But they were wrong, and for an obvious reason: they weren’t looking at a set of broadly diversified macro benchmarks through an econometrically robust lens.

All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power
By By Nomi Prins
Summary via publisher, Nation Books
All the Presidents’ Bankers is a groundbreaking narrative of how an elite group of men transformed the American economy and government, dictated foreign and domestic policy, and shaped world history. Culled from original presidential archival documents, All the Presidents’ Bankers delivers an explosive account of the hundred-year interdependence between the White House and Wall Street that transcends a simple analysis of money driving politics—or greed driving bankers.

Thirty Tomorrows: The Next Three Decades of Globalization, Demographics, and How We Will Live
By Milton Ezrati
Review via Publishers Weekly
Veteran investment strategist and economist Ezrati (Kawari) offers a smart, readable synthesis of globalization and how Europe, Japan, and other nations have come to terms with it. More of a history than a projection, the book begins with demographics that establish that though the populations are aging—a cause for concern—they are healthier. He then turns to global events and economic trends during the last three decades, and reviews the transformations in China with an even hand. As the biggest holder of U.S. foreign debt, China, Ezrati argues, should reform its currency policy. He issues a warning about the influence of little-known sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and their power to shape political events.

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism
By David Harvey
Summary via publisher, Profile Books
David Harvey unravels the contradictions at the heart of capitalism – its drive, for example, to accumulate capital beyond the means of investing it, its imperative to use the cheapest methods of production that leads to consumers with no means of consumption, and its compulsion to exploit nature to the point of extinction. These are the tensions which underpin the persistence of mass unemployment, the downward spirals of Europe and Japan, and the unstable lurches forward of China and India. Not that the contradictions of capital are all bad: they can lead to the innovations that make capitalism resilient and, it seems, permanent. Yet appearances can deceive: while many of capital’s contradictions can be managed, others will be fatal to our society. This new book is both an incisive guide to the world around us and a manifesto for change.

Economic and Business Forecasting: Analyzing and Interpreting Econometric Results
By John Silvia, et al.
Summary via publisher, Wiley
Equipping analysts, practitioners, and graduate students with a statistical framework to make effective decisions based on the application of simple economic and statistical methods, Economic and Business Forecasting offers a comprehensive and practical approach to quantifying and accurate forecasting of key variables. Using simple econometric techniques, author John E. Silvia focuses on a select set of major economic and financial variables, revealing how to optimally use statistical software as a template to apply to your own variables of interest.