Book Bits | 5 September 2020

Too Much Information: Understanding What You Don’t Want to Know
Cass R. Sunstein
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
How much information is too much? Do we need to know how many calories are in the giant vat of popcorn that we bought on our way into the movie theater? Do we want to know if we are genetically predisposed to a certain disease? Can we do anything useful with next week’s weather forecast for Paris if we are not in Paris? In Too Much Information, Cass Sunstein examines the effects of information on our lives. Policymakers emphasize “the right to know,” but Sunstein takes a different perspective, arguing that the focus should be on human well-being and what information contributes to it. Government should require companies, employers, hospitals, and others to disclose information not because of a general “right to know” but when the information in question would significantly improve people’s lives.

After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back
Juliet B. Schor
Interview with author via
When you hear the words “gig economy,” you probably tend to think of all of the people driving for ride-hailing services or delivering takeout food from restaurants. There is still a major debate over whether many of those independent contractors should be entitled to employee benefits. There is also a more grassroots class of these so-called “sharing economy” outfits that offer promise, but have also run into challenges. Juliet Schor is a professor of sociology at Boston College. Her forthcoming book is called “After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back.” She spoke with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

This Land is My Land: Rebellion in the West
James R. Skillen
Summary via Oxford U. Press
Among American conservatives, the right to own property free from the meddling hand of the state is one of the most sacred rights of all. But in the American West, the federal government owns and oversees vast patches of land, complicating the narrative of western individualism and private property rights. As a consequence, anti-federal government sentiment has animated conservative politics in the West for decades upon decades.

Hyper-Learning: How to Adapt to the Speed of Change
Edward D. Hess
Summary via publisher (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)
The Digital Age will raise the question of how we humans will stay relevant in the workplace. To stay relevant, we have to be able to excel cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally in ways that technology can’t. Professor Ed Hess believes that requires us to become Hyper-Learners: continuously learning, unlearning, and relearning at the speed of change. To do that, we have to overcome our reflexive ways of being: seeking confirmation of what we believe, emotionally defending our beliefs and our ego, and seeking cohesiveness of our mental models.

The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return
Michael Anton
Review via Marginal Revolution
That is the new book by Michael Anton, the famed then pseudonymous author of the “Flight 93 piece.” I consider this to be the very best book for understanding where the current Intellectual Right “is at.” In that sense I recommend it highly. The opening chapter is a polemical fear that all of America will go the route of California, and then Anton keeps on digging further in on what has gone wrong.

Machine Learning for Factor Investing: R Version
Guillaume Coqueret and Tony Guida
Summary via publisher (CRC Press)
Machine learning (ML) is progressively reshaping the fields of quantitative finance and algorithmic trading. ML tools are increasingly adopted by hedge funds and asset managers, notably for alpha signal generation and stocks selection. The technicality of the subject can make it hard for non-specialists to join the bandwagon, as the jargon and coding requirements may seem out of reach. Machine Learning for Factor Investing: R Version bridges this gap. It provides a comprehensive tour of modern ML-based investment strategies that rely on firm characteristics.

Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains
Kerri Arsenault
Review via Minneapolis Star Tribune
One of the lesser-discussed political consequences of the past four years has been the blunt-force battering and shattering of environmental regulations. The current administration has taken every opportunity to undermine the clean-air, clean-water, wilderness-preserving policies that have guided — and divided — American life since the early 1970s.
Not that environmental regulations have given Americans a pristine, worry-free existence. As Kerri Arsenault discovered during the making of her trenchant and aching new book, the science and practice of pollution control has been fraught with indecision, ineffectiveness, indifference and often overwhelming corporate influence.

Positional Option Trading: An Advanced Guide (Wiley Trading)
Euan Sinclair
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Positional Option Trading is a rigorous, professional-level guide on sophisticated techniques from professional trader and quantitative analyst Euan Sinclair. The author has over two decades of high-level option trading experience. He has written this book specifically for professional options traders who have outgrown more basic trading techniques and are searching for in-depth information suitable for advanced trading.

Equity Markets, Valuation, and Analysis
H. Kent Baker, et. al
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Equity Markets, Valuation, and Analysis brings together many of the leading practitioner and academic voices in finance to produce a comprehensive and empirical examination of equity markets. Written and edited by experts in the field, Equity Markets, Valuation, and Analysis introduces the basic concepts and applications that govern the area before moving on to increasingly intricate treatments of sub-fields and market trends.

China-US Trade War and Trade Talk
Miaojie Yu
Summary via publisher (Springer)
This book focuses on the current tension between China and the US on trade imbalance and discusses China’s opening-up strategy in the context of this trade conflict. The book is divided into two parts. In the first part, the author presents a detailed analysis of the current state of the China-US trade relationship and describes the potential impacts of China-US trade conflicts. The topics covered in this section include the re-estimate of US trade deficit with China, China’s non-market economy status, the impact of China-US bilateral investment treaties on China’s manufacturing sectors, and the estimated welfare losses and gains resulting from the China-US trade war. Part II explores China’s possible response and development strategy in the context of de-globalization.

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