Book Bits: 4 Saturday 2021

Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy
Adam Tooze
Review via Reuters
Confronting the crisis forced governments to discard old orthodoxies, many of which were already under attack. Politicians who had previously sought to rein in public spending deployed vast sums to support citizens stuck at home and businesses which had been forced to close. Central banks hoovered up government bonds and backstopped a range of financial markets. Commitments to free trade and private enterprise were discarded in the rush to secure face masks and vaccines, and support crisis-struck industries.

The Blue Age: How the US Navy Created Global Prosperity–And Why We’re in Danger of Losing It
Gregg Easterbrook
Summary via publisher (Public Affairs Books)
For decades, the Navy has stood sentinel over crucial waterways, ensuring safe passage of goods from nearly all nations. The result is the longest phase of peace on the waters since the Phoenicians, with rising living standards, more (total) jobs, and the dramatic decline of poverty in Asia. But these prosperous times could be at an end. Today China is building warships at an extraordinary pace. India, Japan, Vietnam, and Europe are responding with more fighting ships. What will result from China’s rising naval might, particularly in the South China Sea? As ocean resources are shaped by climate change and new discoveries, will the world share them or fight over them? What will happen if America turns against free trade? Without American investment, the world could see a rise of supply shortages and seagoing conflict that would dwarf the impact of the container ship stuck in the Suez Canal.

The Great Recoil: Politics after Populism and Pandemic
Paolo Gerbaudo
Summary via publisher (Verso)
In these times of health emergency, economic collapse, populist anger and ecological threat, societies are forced to turn inward in search of protection. Neoliberalism, the ideology that presided over decades of market globalisation, is on trial, while state intervention is making a spectacular comeback amid lockdowns, mass vaccination programmes, deficit spending and climate planning. This is the Great Recoil, the era when the neo-statist endopolitics of national sovereignty, economic protection and democratic control overrides the neoliberal exopolitics of free markets, labour flexibility and business opportunity.

What Capitalism Needs: Forgotten Lessons of Great Economists
John L. Campbell and John A. Hall
Summary via publisher (Cambridge U. Press)
From unemployment to Brexit to climate change, capitalism is in trouble and ill-prepared to cope with the challenges of the coming decades. How did we get here? While contemporary economists and policymakers tend to ignore the political and social dimensions of capitalism, some of the great economists of the past – Adam Smith, Friedrich List, John Maynard Keynes, Joseph Schumpeter, Karl Polanyi and Albert Hirschman – did not make the same mistake. Leveraging their insights, sociologists John L. Campbell and John A. Hall trace the historical development of capitalism as a social, political, and economic system throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Quantitative Portfolio Management: The Art and Science of Statistical Arbitrage
Andrew Pole
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In Quantitative Portfolio Management: The Art and Science of Statistical Arbitrage, distinguished physicist-turned-quant Dr. Michael Isichenko delivers a systematic review of the quantitative trading of equities, or statistical arbitrage. The book teaches you how to source financial data, learn patterns of asset returns from historical data, generate and combine multiple forecasts, manage risk, build a stock portfolio optimized for risk and trading costs, and execute trades.

The Climate Coup
Mark Alizart
Summary via publisher (Polity)
Inaction by governments in the face of climate change is often attributed to a lack of political will or a denial of the seriousness of the situation, but as Mark Alizart argues in this provocative book, we shouldn’t exclude the possibility that part of the reluctance might be motivated by cynicism and even sheer evil: for some people, there are real financial and political benefits to be gained from the chaos that will ensue from environmental disaster. The climate crisis creates its winners – individuals who orchestrate environmental chaos and bet on the collapse of the world as they bet on declining share values.

Time Series Analysis for the State-Space Model with R/Stan
Junichiro Hagiwara
Summary via publisher (Springer)
This book provides a comprehensive and concrete illustration of time series analysis focusing on the state-space model, which has recently attracted increasing attention in a broad range of fields. The major feature of the book lies in its consistent Bayesian treatment regarding whole combinations of batch and sequential solutions for linear Gaussian and general state-space models: MCMC and Kalman/particle filter. The reader is given insight on flexible modeling in modern time series analysis. The main topics of the book deal with the state-space model, covering extensively, from introductory and exploratory methods to the latest advanced topics such as real-time structural change detection. Additionally, a practical exercise using R/Stan based on real data promotes understanding and enhances the reader’s analytical capability.

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