Book Bits | 6.21.13

The Norm Chronicles: Stories and Numbers About Danger
By David Spiegelhalter
Review via The Economist
Risk is everywhere. From tabloid headlines insisting that coffee causes cancer (yesterday, of course, it cured it) to stern government warnings about alcohol and driving, the world is teeming with goblins. For each one there is a frighteningly precise measurement of just how likely it is to jump from the shadows and get you. “The Norm Chronicles”, a new book from Michael Blastland, a journalist in love with statistics, and David Spiegelhalter, a statistician, aims to help data-phobes find their way through this blizzard of risks.

Mastering Illiquidity: Risk management for portfolios of limited partnership funds
By Thomas Meyer, et al.
Summary via publisher, Wiley
With risk-free interest rates and risk premiums at record lows, many investors are turning to illiquid assets, such as real estate, private equity, infrastructure and timber, in search of superior returns and greater portfolio diversity. But as many analysts, investors and wealth managers are discovering, such investments bring with them a unique set of risks that cannot be measured by standard asset allocation models. Written by a dream team of globally renowned experts in the field, this book provides a clear, accessible overview of illiquid fund investments, focusing on what the main risks of these asset classes are and how to measure those risks in today’s regulatory environment.
Tax Efficient Investing
By Reto Gallati
Summary via Amazon
Tax Efficient Investing offers a comprehensive road map for investors to create a tax-advantaged investment strategy by following simple steps to become a more tax-efficient investor. Most individual investors tend to make investment decisions purely based on future expected returns and consider the tax-consequences only after the fact. Is it possible to keep more of what you earn on your investments? In the end, what matters is how much you keep, not how much you earn. Tax law changes you need to know about for 2013! As 2013 rang in, so did a significant number of changes to the tax laws. All important changes for tax year 2013 (referring to investment related topics) are included in this book. That includes e.g. the additional Medicare tax, new (and higher) income tax brackets, the Net Investment Income Tax of 3.8%, updated details about capital gain tax rates, exemptions, deductions etc.
Banking on Democracy: Financial Markets and Elections in Emerging Countries
By Javier Santiso
Summary via publisher, MIT Press
Politics matter for financial markets and financial markets matter for politics, and nowhere is this relationship more apparent than in emerging markets. In Banking on Democracy, Javier Santiso investigates the links between politics and finance in countries that have recently experienced both economic and democratic transitions. He focuses on elections, investigating whether there is a “democratic premium”—whether financial markets and investors tend to react positively to elections in emerging markets.
Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs
By Eric W. Sanderson
Excerpt via The Huffington Post
It is tempting to think that cars, roads, and gasoline were inevitable, a manifestation of destiny, part of some kind of preordained plan, encoded in our cultural DNA, to ensure that everyone in America would drive. But that’s the Siren song talking. Thinking that way requires neglecting all the players — the lobbies, planners, industrialists, inventors, and government bureaucrats — who were also part of the design to make us drive. It also means ignoring the generations of Americans who lived before the car was invented (presumably George Washington felt American even while riding his horse) and forgetting about the trains, bicycles, streetcars, and electric cars that once got us around. Car companies, rubber companies, oil companies, and their advertisers saturate the landscape with the useful myth: Americans wouldn’t be American if we didn’t drive.
The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It
Edited by Brian C. Anderson
Summary via publisher, Rowman & Littlefield
California is at a tipping point. Severe budget deficits, unsustainable pension costs, heavy taxes, cumbersome regulation, struggling cities, and distressed public schools are but a few of the challenges that policymakers must address for the state to remain a beacon of business innovation and economic opportunity. City Journal has for years been cataloging the political and economic issues of our nation’s largest metropolitan areas, and in this collection compiled and introduced by City Journal editor Brian C. Anderson, the cracks in California’s flawed policy plans are displayed in detail, and analyzed by a diverse set of experts in the state’s design.