Book Bits | 4 April 2015

Beat the Crowd: How You Can Out-Invest the Herd by Thinking Differently
By Kenneth L. Fisher with Elisabeth Dellinger
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Beat the Crowd is the real contrarian’s guide to investing, with comprehensive explanations of how a true contrarian investor thinks and acts – and why it works more often than not. Bestselling author Ken Fisher breaks down the myths and cuts through the noise to present a clear, unvarnished view of timeless market realities, and the ways in which a contrarian approach to investing will outsmart the herd. In true Ken Fisher style, the book explains why the crowd often goes astray—and how you can stay on track. Contrarians understand how headlines really affect the market and which noise and fads they should tune out. Beat the Crowd is a primer to the contrarian strategy, teaching readers simple tricks to think differently and get it right more often than not.

American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness
By Dan DiMicco
Review via Kirkus
The infrastructure crisis is fast crippling the nation, and everyone knows it except, it seems, Congress, which is reluctant to spend a dime if it means raising taxes on the wealthy or on corporations. “I wouldn’t even classify infrastructure spending as ‘spending,’ ” writes the author, who’s no one’s idea of a squishy liberal. “It’s a public investment that pays dividends for decades”—and, he adds, every dollar of infrastructure spending adds $1.59 in gross domestic product. A no-brainer? Well, he suggests, a lack of brains is what has gotten us into a mess that can be fixed only by building our way to solvency—a seeming impossibility since Congress once again refused to build a “buy America” plank into the last series of stimulus packages.

The Maze of Banking: History, Theory, Crisis
By Gary B. Gorton
Reference via The Motley Fool
Many hundreds of banks fail each time a panic occurs. More than 800 failed in the aftermath of the Panic of 1893. Nearly 5,000 went out of business during the rolling agricultural crises of the 1920s. Almost 5,500 closed during the Great Depression. Upwards of 2,800 failed throughout multiple crises in the 1980s and early 1990s. And more than 500 lenders closed following the crisis of 2008-2009.
It’s worth pointing out, moreover, that panics like these are increasing in frequency, not decreasing. This is a central point that bank historian Gary Gorton stresses in his latest book The Maze of Banking: History, Theory, Crisis. Gorton cites research showing, among other things, that “the frequency of banking crises in the 1945-71 period was virtually zero; but since 1971 … crises became much more frequent.”

The United States of Excess: Gluttony and the Dark Side of American Exceptionalism
By Robert Paarlberg
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Americans take pride in their “exceptionalism,” not always aware that exceptional excess is part of the package. Compared to other wealthy countries, for example, America stands out as a gluttonous over-consumer: emitting twice as much carbon dioxide per capita as the average for the 27 nations of the European Union, and boasting obesity prevalence numbers that are double the industrial world average. But this is not all; America is also exceptional in the weakness of its national policy efforts to correct the challenges of obesity and climate change. For Paarlberg, these three failures — in food and fuel consumption and policy response — can be linked to the country’s unusual material and demographic circumstances, singular political institutions, and unique political culture.

Profit Pathology and Other Indecencies
By Michael Parenti
Summary via publisher (Paradigm)
From market crisis to market boom, from welfare to wealth care, from homelessness to helplessness, and an all-out assault on the global environment—these are just some of the indecencies of contemporary economic life that Profit Pathology takes on. Here, Michael Parenti investigates how class power is a central force in our political life and, yet, is subjected to little critical discernment. He notes how big-moneyed interests shift the rules of the game in their favor while unveiling the long march by reactionaries through the nation’s institutions to undo all the gains of social democracy, from the New Deal to the present.

Deep Wealth: An Exploration of Money, Meaning, and What Really Matters
By Chad S Hamilton
Summary via Amazon
The key to successful wealth management is not financial education. Too often we have looked for mathematical solutions to behavioral problems. Personal financial issues are not solved by changes in interest rates, investment performance, or increased financial IQ. None of those things change behavior. It is internal motivation that drives external behavior. Desires will shape our financial decision-making. So what about our desires and dreams? C.S. Lewis declared that a central problem of humanity is that we are “far too easily pleased.” Are we settling for less consequential lives? Are we too willing to sell out bigger hopes and dreams for fleeting pleasures? What if the source of our financial problems is that our goals are actually too small? To find true freedom, we need to integrate our values, passions, and purpose into meaningful goals that inspire us. This is an exploration of money, meaning, and what really matters. It’s a search for Deep Wealth.

Breakthroughs in Decision Science and Risk Analysis
Edited by Louis Anthony Cox, Jr.
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Focusing on modern advances and innovations in the field of decision analysis (DA), Breakthroughs in Decision Science and Risk Analysis presents theories and methods for making, improving, and learning from significant practical decisions. The book explains these new methods and important applications in an accessible and stimulating style for readers from multiple backgrounds, including psychology, economics, statistics, engineering, risk analysis, operations research, and management science.