Book Bits | 6 February 2016

Shrinking the Earth: The Rise and Decline of American Abundance
By Donald Worster
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
The discovery of the Americas around 1500 AD was an extraordinary watershed in human experience. It gave rise to the modern period of human ecology, a phenomenon global in scope that set in motion profound changes in almost every society on earth. This new period, which saw the depletion of the lands of the New World, proved tragic for some, triumphant for others, and powerfully affecting for all. In this work, acclaimed environmental historian Donald Worster takes a global view in his examination of the ways in which complex issues of worldwide abundance and scarcity have shaped American society and behavior over three centuries. Looking at the limits nature imposes on human ambitions, he questions whether America today is in the midst of a shift from a culture of abundance to a culture of limits-and whether American consumption has become reliant on the global South.

The Wealth Management Experience: The Peace Of Mind That Comes When Your Financial Roots Are Strong
By Jim Hatton
Excerpt via publisher (Archway)
The majority of investors today, even those who have professional financial advisors, do not take a wealth management-based approach. A study by CEG Worldwide found that a mere 6.6% of financial advisors practice the kind of wealth management we are talking about-even though many more advisors call themselves wealth managers.
For most of these professionals, the focus is on investments-picking stocks, funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and other investment products. That outlook, by itself, fails to take into account other huge drivers of investors’ ultimate ability to achieve their goals-including their exposure or potential exposure to income taxes and estate taxes, as well as their ability to protect the wealth they have built over time. By stopping short of connecting all aspects of your financial life in a holistic way, you needlessly put at risk your future and the futures of those you care about most.

The Industries of the Future
By Alec Ross
Interview with author via The Diplomat
Q: What was the impetus for “The Industries of the Future?” Why did you write it?
A: I see a huge divide between people who understand the forces that are shaping our future and those who don’t. I wrote the book not for the coastal elites, although I hope they read it and enjoy it. I wrote it to try to widen the circle of people who understand the forces that are shaping our future. It’s written for people who are college educated, but the reader doesn’t have to be someone with three graduate degrees. This is in part my own response to concerns about inequality. As I study the industries of the future — genomics, cyber, the codification of money markets and trusts, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics — what I see is that it [inequality] is happening to an even far greater degree. There will be more well-being, but the economic beneficiaries will remain relatively small. I wrote this book to try to get some more people in.

The Euro Experiment
By Paul Wallace
Review via Economia
Wallace says the euro crisis – which began when the newly elected Greek government revealed that its finances were far worse than figures had shown, and broke out in earnest in 2010 when Greece became unable to borrow in private markets – was actually a combination of six crises relating to sovereign debt, banking, private debt, macroeconomic imbalances, defective economic governance and the interplay of national and European politics. Worryingly, deeply flawed governance is singled out as the most damaging. “The crisis was one of political economy as the institutional shortcomings of the euro, uniquely a monetary without a corresponding fiscal and political union, were laid bare,” writes Wallace in his blog.

A World of Struggle: How Power, Law, and Expertise Shape Global Political Economy
By David Kennedy
Excerpt via publisher (Princeton University Press)
This book is about the stories people tell themselves and one another in places like Davos and the power they exercise in doing so. Their stories are important: stories about what an economy is, what politics can accomplish, the limits and potential of law in establishing a well-ordered
world. Stories make some problems visible and some actors central to their resolution. Stories are also tools of struggle, assertions about who is entitled to what, whose desires legitimate and whose do not. The technical work people undertake in the shadow of these stories arranges the world, distributing wealth, status, and opportunity.