Book Bits | 5 May 2018

● Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World
By Nomi Prins
Interview with author via KALW
Prins argues that since the global financial crisis, big banks have massively profited from access to cheap money. She writes, “No significant regulations have been introduced to fix the structural problems behind the last financial crisis. Banks and the markets have been subsidized by conjured-money policy.” She calls it a heist that enables the most powerful banks and central bankers to run the world. How can this rigged system be dismantled?

Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity
By Condoleezza Rice and Amy B. Zegart
Interview with authors via Council on Foreign Relations
A generation ago, political risk mostly involved a handful of industries dealing with governments in a few frontier markets. Today, political risk stems from a widening array of actors, including Twitter users, local officials, activists, terrorists, hackers, and more. Condoleezza Rice and Amy B. Zegart, coauthors of Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity, discuss how businesses can prepare for an increasingly complex set of political risks, suffer fewer surprises, and recover better.

American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle over Gold
By Sebastian Edwards
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
The American economy is strong in large part because nobody believes that America would ever default on its debt. Yet in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt did just that, when in a bid to pull the country out of depression, he depreciated the U.S. dollar in relation to gold, effectively annulling all debt contracts. American Default is the story of this forgotten chapter in America’s history. Sebastian Edwards provides a compelling account of the economic and legal drama that embroiled a nation already reeling from global financial collapse. It began on April 5, 1933, when FDR ordered Americans to sell all their gold holdings to the government. This was followed by the abandonment of the gold standard, the unilateral and retroactive rewriting of contracts, and the devaluation of the dollar. Anyone who held public and private debt suddenly saw its value reduced by nearly half, and debtors–including the U.S. government—suddenly owed their creditors far less.

Winning the War on Poverty: Applying the Lessons of History to the Present
By Brian L. Fife
Summary via publisher (Praeger)
American history is replete with efforts to alleviate poverty. While some efforts have resulted in at least partial success, others have not, because poverty is a multifaceted, complicated phenomenon with no simple solution. Winning the War on Poverty studies the history of poverty relief efforts in the United States dating to the nineteenth century, debunking misperceptions about the poor and tackling the problem of the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor. It highlights the ideological differences between liberal and conservative beliefs and includes insights drawn from a well-rounded group of disciplines including political science, history, sociology, economics, and public health.

Cashing In on Cyberpower: How Interdependent Actors Seek Economic Outcomes in a Digital World
By Mark T. Peters II
Summary via publisher (Potomac Books)
As the world has become increasingly digitally interconnected, military leaders and other actors are ditching symmetric power strategies in favor of cyberstrategies. Cyberpower enables actors to change actual economic outcomes without the massive resource investment required for military force deployments. Cashing In on Cyberpower addresses the question, Why and to what end are state and nonstate actors using cybertools to influence economic outcomes? The most devastating uses of cyberpower can include intellectual property theft, espionage to uncover carefully planned trade strategies, and outright market manipulation through resource and currency values.

The Big Four: The Curious Past and Perilous Future of the Global Accounting Monopoly
By Stuart Kells and Ian Gow
Summary via publisher (La Trobe University Press)
Across the globe, the so-called Big Four accounting and audit firms – Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG – are massively influential. Together, they earn more than US$100 billion annually and employ almost one million people. In many profound ways, they have changed how we work, how we manage, how we invest and how we are governed. Stretching back centuries, their history is a fascinating story of wealth, power and luck. But today, the Big Four face an uncertain future – thanks to their push into China; their vulnerability to digital disruption and competition; and the hazards of providing traditional services in a new era of transparency.