Book Bits | 6.15.13

Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics
By Thomas H. Davenport and Jinho Kim
Summary via publisher, Harvard Business Press
Welcome to the age of data. No matter your interests (sports, movies, politics), your industry (finance, marketing, technology, manufacturing), or the type of organization you work for (big company, nonprofit, small start-up)–your world is awash with data. As a successful manager today, you must be able to make sense of all this information. You need to be conversant with analytical terminology and methods and able to work with quantitative information. This book promises to become your “quantitative literacy” guide–helping you develop the analytical skills you need right now in order to summarize data, find the meaning in it, and extract its value. In “Keeping Up with the Quants,” authors, professors, and analytics experts Thomas Davenport and Jinho Kim offer practical tools to improve your understanding of data analytics and enhance your thinking and decision making.

Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America
By John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney
Review via Publishers Weekly
Nichols and McChesney (coauthors of The Death and Life of American Journalism and cofounders of Free Press, a media reform group) are both despairing and hopeful in this incisive account of what they see as corporate America’s hijacking of the election process. While the $10 billion spent in the 2012 presidential election was unprecedented, America’s plutocrats have long been determined to make their vote count. Though contesting this trend is a deeply rooted American tradition, it’s troubling to read about dismantled restrictions against corporate dominance, beginning with Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell who, in 1978, laid the groundwork for the problematic 2011 Citizens United decision. As the authors note, unchecked out-of-state donations ensure that elected officials hold no loyalty to their constituents.
Saved: How I quit worrying about money and became the richest guy in the world
By Ben Hewitt
Q&A with author via US News
Q: Why do you think we have such a complicated relationship with money?
A: It appears complicated if you hear terms like monetary policy or monetary system. Most people’s eyes just glaze over. They don’t really want to get into the minutia of how money really works. I don’t think you have to really understand a whole lot to grasp the basics.
We’ve arrived at a place in our culture and in our society where pretty much every aspect of every facet of our well-being has become monetized. By necessity, we are bound to money. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in all cases. I think money is a tremendous convenience in some ways. It’s such an easy way to sort of absolve yourself of a debt. If I do something for somebody, they pay me for it, and they’ve absolved themselves. They’re not beholden to me in any way whatsoever anymore. So there is this convenience factor to it.
Liberty’s Dawn: A People’s History of the Industrial Revolution
By Emma Griffin
Review via The Daily Mail
The working classes had a thoroughly rotten time of it during the Industrial Revolution – or so history books maintain. Uprooted from their picturesque rural hovels, they were crammed together in filthy factories where they either wheezed themselves into early graves, or else became hideously entangled in their Spinning Jennies.
However, Emma Griffin doesn’t see it like this. As far as she’s concerned, the Industrial Revolution came as a tremendous boom to a lot of working people: they earned far more than they had done before, escaped lives of crushing poverty and for the first time began to exert some measure of control over their lives.
The Failure of Anglo-Liberal Capitalism
By Colin Hay
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Pivot
The global financial crisis has generated an intense debate in academic, business, journalistic and political circles alike about what went wrong and how to put it right. In this provocative reassessment of the crisis and its implications, Colin Hay argues that it is only by acknowledging the complicity and culpability of an Anglo-liberal model of capitalism in the inflation and then bursting of the bubble that we can begin to see the full extent of what is broken and what now must be fixed. He argues that the crisis is best seen as a crisis of and indeed for growth and not as a crisis of debt. It is, moreover, a crisis of and for an excessively liberalised Anglo-American form of capitalism and the Anglo-liberal growth model to which it gave rise. This is a form of capitalism and a growth model that was inherently unstable and threatened the entire world economy – its excesses cannot be tolerated again.
Toxic Economic Theory, Fraudulent Accounting Standards, and the Bankruptcy of Economic Policy
By R.A. Rayman
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Macmillan
Toxic economic theory originates from its ‘schizophrenic’ division into separate macro- and macro- compartments. The microeconomic market-value fallacy – by ignoring the macroeconomic repercussions – fosters the delusion that an increase in market value necessarily represents a gain in real wealth. This fallacy is responsible for fraudulent ‘fair value’ accounting standards and for an epidemic of ‘balance-sheet myopia’. In creating an unsustainable pyramid of ever-increasing loans secured on ever-rising house-prices, it is the root cause of the current economic crisis.
Macroprudential Policy: Taming the wild gyrations of credit flows, debt stocks and asset prices
By Richard Barwell
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Macmillan
Financial crises have plagued economies around the globe for centuries, yet no satisfactory policy solution has been found to significantly reduce the likelihood and severity of these devastating events. Macroprudential policy, the intellectual response to
financial crisis, may provide the solution to this recurrent problem. However, what this means in practice is subject to disagreement – with radicals proposing measures to stablise the flow of credit to households and companies, and others suggesting a more conservative approach focused on the banks. Macroprudential Policy is the first book to provide a coherent and comprehensive coverage of the issues of why, when and how policymakers should intervene.