Book Bits | 5.12.2012

Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Decline… and the Rise of a New Economy
By Daniel Gross
Q&A with author via Kai Ryssdal (Marketplace)
Ryssdal: All right, so here comes the put-up-or-shut-up: You say early in this book that the ingredients are already here. You say ‘it’s tough to see what exactly is going to propel the United States forward, but the ingredients are already here.’ Like what?
Gross: Well exports is obviously one of them. The fact that the world has been growing more rapidly than the U.S. is a big source of this declinist thinking. An author like Tom Friedman goes to China and says, ‘Oh boy, they’re building high-speed rails and look at us, we can’t build infrastructure; we’re finished.’ Exports started turning up in April 2009, before the economy at large did. In the last two years, they’re up 35 percent. When the rest of the world gets rich, or gets middle-class, they buy what we make. That includes Boeing jets, gas turbines. I found a family-controlled, little company in suburban Pennsylvania that makes wallpaper. 2007, 2008 — 80 percent of this business was at home; now 70 percent is overseas.

The Little Book of Bull’s Eye Investing: Finding Value, Generating Absolute Returns, and Controlling Risk in Turbulent Markets
By John Maudlin
Summary via publisher, Wiley
To make money in this troubled economy you need to understand where the markets are headed, not where they ve been. Clinging to outdated strategies and played out market trends are sure ways to miss out on new investments, and in The Little Book of Bull s Eye Investing, acclaimed investment expert John Mauldin teaches you how to read the direction of the markets to make decisions that capitalize on today s investment opportunities. A practical road map to what s in store for the markets to help you stay ahead of the curve, the book debunks many of the myths that have come to govern investment logic, particularly the buy-and-hold, relative return vehicles that Wall Street peddles to unsuspecting investors. Giving you a clear view of the trends shaping the markets right now which are likely to provide investment options for the decade ahead, The Little Book of Bull s Eye Investing teaches the value of careful research before you put your money to work.
The Little Book of the Shrinking Dollar: What You Can Do to Protect Your Money Now
By Addison Wiggin
Summary via publisher, Wiley
The United States dollar is losing value at an alarming rate. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) index, the U.S. currency is 37 percent below fair value against the Australian dollar and 20 percent versus the Canadian dollar. The decline of the U.S. dollar is one of the biggest threats facing American investors today, but with the Little Book of the Shrinking Dollar: What You Can do to Protect Your Money Now in hand, you have the knowledge and the expertise you need to fight back.
Quantitative Risk Management: A Practical Guide to Financial Risk
By Thomas S. Coleman
Excerpt via publisher, Wiley
The distinction I draw between risk management and risk measurement argues for a subtle but important change in focus from the standard risk management approach: a focus on understanding and managing risk in addition to the independent measurement of risk. The term risk management, unfortunately, has been appropriated to describe what should be termed risk measurement: the measuring and quantifying of risk. Risk measurement requires specialized expertise and should generally be organized into a department separate from the main risk-taking units within the organization. Managing risk, in contrast, must be treated as a core competence of a financial firm and of those charged with managing the firm. Appropriating the term risk management in this way can mislead one to think that the risk takers’ responsibility to manage risk is somehow lessened, diluting their responsibility to make the decisions necessary to effectively manage risk. Managers cannot delegate their responsibilities to manage risk, and there should no more be a separate risk management department than there should be a separate profit management department.
The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise
By Arthur C. Brooks
Review via The Washington Times
In his revolutionary book “The Road to Serfdom,” German economist F.A. Hayek observed: “No sensible person should have doubted that the crude rules in which the principles of economic policy of the nineteenth century were expressed were only a beginning – that we had yet much to learn and that there were still immense possibilities of advancement on the lines on which we had moved.” Indeed, in the nearly 70 years since that book, scholars and “sensible” people alike have learned much about how a country can prosper and falter within the frame of a free-market economy. Arthur Brooks has learned a few things and, with a nod to Hayek, describes them in his new book, “The Road to Freedom.”
The Taylor Rule and the Transformation of Monetary Policy
Edited by Evan Koening, Robert Leeson, and George Kahn
Summary via publisher, Hoover Institution Press
Twenty years ago, John Taylor proposed a simple idea to guide monetary policy. Quickly the idea spread, not only through academia, but also to the trading floors of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve’s boardroom in Washington. Now, two decades later, the Taylor rule remains a focal point for discussions of monetary policy around the world. In The Taylor Rule and the Transformation of Monetary Policy, a veritable contributors’ “who’s who” from the academic and policy communities explain and provide perspectives on John Taylor’s revolutionary thinking about monetary policy. From the Great Inflation of the 1970s through the Great Moderation of the 1980s and 1990s to the Great Deviation following the 2001 recession, the contributors analyze Taylor’s influences on monetary theory and policy around the world. They explore some of the literature that Taylor inspired and help us understand how the new ways of thinking that he pioneered have influenced actual policy here and abroad.
The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy
By Suzanne Mettler
Review via Foreign Affairs
Over the course of the past century, the American state — the sum of all government programs and policies — has grown dramatically larger and more complex…. All this activity has generally improved and become intricately embedded in citizens’ lives — which is why attempts to cut the government back tend to be unpopular and unsuccessful. Yet many also feel that the government has started to overreach and that its costs and burdens are becoming unsustainable — which is why bemoaning the extent and growth of the American state is also a perennial feature of political debate. This tension between the fact of a large, active state and doubts about its value is a distinctive feature of the American political scene. One consequence and driver of the contested legitimacy of the American state is the degree to which so much government work has gone underground in recent decades, far more than in other advanced industrial countries, which is the subject of the political scientist Suzanne Mettler’s important new book, The Submerged State.
Restoring Trust in Organizations and Leaders: Enduring Challenges and Emerging Answers
Edited by Roderick M. Kramer and Todd L. Pittinsky
Summary via publisher, Oxford University Press
The sinking public trust in contemporary institutions is a multifaceted phenomenon with political, sociological, economic, and psychological antecedents and consequences. Restoring Trust in Organizations and Leaders is the first volume to adopt the multidisciplinary approach required to understand this decline and to propose and assess remedies. Editors Roderick M. Kramer and Todd L. Pittinsky have assembled contributions from leading psychologists, sociologists, economists, and organizational theorists. In response to such blows to public confidence as the scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, numerous corporate accounting frauds, widespread retirement insecurity, the inadequacy of many school systems, and the failure of politicians in the United States and Europe to come to grips with the economic crisis, Restoring Trust offers a compelling and mind-opening mix of theory, examples, and practical prescription for the critical social problem of restoring public trust in organizations, institutions, and their leaders.