Book Bits | 6.8.13

Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity
By Meredith Whitney
Review via
In the course of U.S. economic cycles, geography played a key role in the rise and fall of regional economies. This is no longer true. In today’s economy where all most businesses need is access to high-speed data networks, proximity to airports, an interstate and a college-educated labor pool, there’s no physical reason why Boeing cannot build airplanes in South Carolina instead of Washington State. Financial analyst Meredith Whitney, who made a name for herself for spotting the subprime mortgage crisis a year before it happened, forecasts a major economic shift in her recent book, Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity. “Voters and communities are starting to realize just how closely tied their personal economic well-being is to their communities’ fiscal well-being,” she writes. “Voters in mismanaged states, the ones now flushing away jobs, are rising up and putting their feet down. Unemployed workers are packing up their families and relocating to low-tax, non-budget-crunched states like Texas and North Dakota in order to find work.”

The China Crisis: How China’s Economic Collapse Will Lead to a Global Depression
By James R. Gorrie
Summary via publisher, Wiley
All the experts agree: the 21st century belongs to China. Given America’s looming insolvency and the possibility of the collapse of the U.S. dollar, who can doubt that China is poised to take over the role of economic superpower? Written by political economist and leading financial journalist James Gorrie, this book offers a highly controversial, contrarian view of contemporary China. Drawing upon a wealth of historical and up-to-the-minute data, Gorrie makes a strong case that China, itself, is on the verge of an economic crisis of epic proportions.
Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending
By Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton
Summary via publisher, Simon & Schuster
If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right. Two rising stars in behavioral science explain how money can buy happiness—if you follow five core principles of smarter spending. Happy Money offers a tour of new research on the science of spending. Most people recognize that they need professional advice on how to earn, save, and invest their money. When it comes to spending that money, most people just follow their intuitions. But scientific research shows that those intuitions are often wrong. Happy Money explains why you can get more happiness for your money by following five principles, from choosing experiences over stuff to spending money on others. And the five principles can be used not only by individuals but by companies seeking to create happier employees and provide “happier products” to their customers. Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton show how companies from Google to Pepsi to Crate & Barrel have put these ideas into action.
The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess
By Turney Duff
Review via Blooomberg
As a junior trader at the now-defunct hedge-fund company Galleon Group LLC, Turney Duff was surprised by how eagerly he was courted by securities-firm salesmen.
He later concluded that in their hunt for commissions, Wall Streeters buy options on people much like options on stocks….
Duff’s 308-page account provides a timely window into practices that have been a focus of federal prosecutors. His spectacular fall is also perplexing, as he initially comes off as smart, albeit green.
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.