Book Bits | 4 March 2017

The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream
By Tyler Cowen
Q&A with author via NPR
In a new book, The Complacent Class, economist Tyler Cowen argues that the United States is standing still. People have grown more risk averse and are reluctant to switch jobs or move to another state, he says, and the desire to innovate — to grow and change — has gone away. In an interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin, Cowen says he’s worried that more and more communities are self-segregating — by income, education or race.

Real-Time Risk: What Investors Should Know About FinTech, High-Frequency Trading, and Flash Crashes
By Irene Aldridge and Steven Krawciw
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Real-Time Risk is the first book to show regular, institutional, and quantitative investors how to navigate intraday threats and stay on-course. The FinTech revolution has brought massive changes to the way investing is done. Trading happens in microsecond time frames, and while risks are emerging faster and in greater volume than ever before, traditional risk management approaches are too slow to be relevant. This book describes market microstructure and modern risks, and presents a new way of thinking about risk management in today’s high-speed world. Accessible, straightforward explanations shed light on little-understood topics, and expert guidance helps investors protect themselves from new threats. The discussion dissects FinTech innovation to highlight the ongoing disruption, and to establish a toolkit of approaches for analyzing flash crashes, aggressive high frequency trading, and other specific aspects of the market.

Why Wall Street Matters
By William Cohan
Interview with author via The Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat podcast
William Cohan, author of “Why Wall Street Matters,” joins Paul Vigna and Stephen Grocer to discuss everything right and wrong with Wall Street and why it remains an essential institution despite its flaws. “It’s global, powerful, and as important and mysterious as ever,” says Cohan.

Evolution of Economic Ideas: Adam Smith to Amartya Sen and Beyond
By Vinay Bharat-Ram
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Do you know that Karl Marx, who despised the capitalist class, was actually raised in an upper-middle-class family? And that the distinguished economist John Maynard Keynes scored poorly in economics in the civil service examination – which he attributed to the examiner’s lack of knowledge of the subject? Vinay Bharat-Ram, in this delightful and breezy read, offers revealing glimpses into the lives and social circumstances of some of the most influential economic thinkers who have determined the way we understand economics today. Brimming with fascinating nuggets from their lives, this book journeys from Adam Smith’s free-market capitalism to Amartya Sen’s welfare economics and beyond, demystifying several momentous economic developments along the way. It explains how the social conditions and unique circumstances of these philosophers shaped their sometimes rich and sometimes absurd ideas that eventually formed the foundation of modern economics.

Macroeconomic Policy after the Crash: Issues in Microprudential and Macroprudential Policy
By Richard Barwell
Summary via publisher (Palgrave MacMillan)
This book reviews the key policy debates during the post-crash era, describing the issues that policymakers grappled with, the decisions that they took and the details of the policy instruments that were created. It focuses specifically on the policy regimes at the epicentre of the crisis: micro- and macro-prudential policy with chapters exploring the revolution in the conduct of macroeconomic policy in the period since the financial crisis. The author shows that throughout this period policymakers have had to balance two conflicting objectives – to repair balance sheets in the banking and public sectors whilst simultaneously trying to catalyse an economic recovery – and that has required them to innovate new tools and even new policy regimes in response.

War and the Market Economy
By Lester B. Stone
Summary via publisher (Alpha Editions)
War has influenced economic history profoundly across time and space. Winners of wars have shaped economic institutions and trade patterns. Wars have influenced technological developments. Above all, recurring war has drained wealth, disrupted markets, and depressed economic growth. The role of war in the world economy is complex, yet pervasive…. This concise and legible book will provide key text to all students, teachers and researchers.