Book Bits | 5.5.2012

The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy
By Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns
Summary via publisher, MIT Press
The United States is bankrupt, flat broke. Thanks to accounting that would make Enron blush, America’s insolvency goes far beyond what our leaders are disclosing. The United States is a fiscal basket case, in worse shape than the notoriously bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, and others. How did this happen? In The Clash of Generations, experts Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns document our six-decade, off-balance-sheet, unsustainable financing scheme. They explain how we have balanced our longer lives on the backs of our (relatively few) children. At the same time, we’ve been on a consumption spree, saving and investing less than nothing. And that’s not to mention the evisceration of the middle class and a financial system that has proven it can’t be trusted. Kotlikoff and Burns outline grassroots strategies for saving ourselves–and especially our children–from what could be a truly catastrophic financial collapse.

The Little Book of Hedge Funds
By Anthony Scaramucci
Review via The Huffington Post
Most of the books I’ve read on investing are about as appealing as chewing on a cinder block. Fortunately, Anthony Scaramucci has written The Little Book of Hedge Funds, an entertaining and informative book without the typical Wall Street bombast, and it’s nearly small enough to fit into my back pocket. Scaramucci is a regular contributor to CNBC’s Fast Money, so he knows how to deliver a cogent message when he explains “the history and evolution of hedge funds and how they operate.” The Little Book of Hedge Funds has everything from interviews with industry giants (Leon Cooperman) to a Due Diligence Questionnaire for potential investors.
Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World
By Ian Bremmer
Adapted excerpt via The Wall Street Journal
We have entered what I like to call a “G-Zero” world: one in which no single nation (not even the U.S.) or alliance of governments (certainly not the G-7 or G-20) possesses the political and economic muscle to drive an international agenda. In this new decentralized global order, growth isn’t enough. A country also must have resilience—the power to pivot. Which countries are best positioned to pivot deftly in this emerging world order? Brazil, which recently surpassed Britain to become the world’s sixth-largest economy, has many promising advantages. With a middle class of more than 100 million, it is home to Latin America’s largest consumer market. Its government, led by a party of the left, has established a national consensus in favor of market- and investor-friendly economic policies. Though huge offshore oil discoveries in 2007 ensure that the country will become a leading energy exporter, its economy is well diversified.
MoneyShift: How to Prosper from What You Can’t Control
By Jerry Webman
Excerpt via publisher, Wiley
What has changed? What was so aberrant about the Great Moderation that today we can understand it as an anomaly and be pretty sure that it will not come back—at least not where and how it once resided? What went on in that quarter century that made it so very easy for so very many people to become financially successful in a way that was simply not possible before or since? The answer is that there was a financial vaccine that kept the Great Moderation going, and now, like an antibiotic up against a resistant strain of bacteria, that vaccine has lost its potency. The vaccine’s name? Debt. The doctor administering the vaccine? The Federal Reserve.
The Big Win: Learning from the Legends to Become a More Successful Investor
By Stephen Weiss
Summary via publisher, Wiley
In his first book, The Billion Dollar Mistake, author Stephen L. Weiss showcased the biggest blunders of some of the world’s legendary investors—which lost them billions of dollars on a single investment. Incredibly, the mistakes they made were the same mistakes made by everyday investors but for the magnitude of the loss. Weiss’s second book, The Big Win: Learning from the Legends to Become a More Successful Investor, highlights financial successes, explaining how the world’s most successful investors make a fortune and how you can do the same. As with the missteps Weiss profiled in his first book, the strategies used by these legendary investors are available to all, regardless of size or sophistication.