Book Bits | 7.13.13

Act of Congress: How America’s Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn’t
By Robert G. Kaiser
Review via The New York Times
It’s no surprise this institution would attract Robert G. Kaiser, who grew up in the capital and has spent half a century at The Washington Post. Kaiser’s new book, “Act of Congress,” chronicles the making of the enormous financial reform bill that became law in 2010. Although Kaiser constantly bemoans the lack of civility and rise of petty politicking in Congress, it’s clear that at its most functional, the body reminds him of the Washington of his youth, when serious-minded men of good will toiled in the national interest. Financial reform is proof that even in its current, degraded form, Congress can still occasionally serve this higher purpose.

Intelligent Investing: A Guide to the Practical and Behavioural Aspects of Investment Strategy
By Guy Fraser-Sampson
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Macmillan
Intelligent Investing is a is a one-stop-guide for investment professionals who need to better think though their investment rules, behavior, or procedures before allocating capital.
Debt: Ethics, the Environment, and the Economy
Edited by Peter Paik and Merry Wiesner-Hanks
Summary via publisher, Indiana University Press
From personal finance and consumer spending to ballooning national expenditures on warfare and social welfare, debt is fundamental to the dynamics of global capitalism. The contributors to this volume explore the concept of indebtedness in its various senses and from a wide range of perspectives. They observe that many views of ethics, citizenship, and governance are based on a conception of debts owed by one individual to others; that artistic and literary creativity involves the artist’s dialogue with the works of the past; and that the specter of catastrophic climate change has underscored the debt those living in the present owe to future generations.
Recovering from the Global Financial Crisis: Achieving Financial Stability in Times of Uncertainty
By Marianne Ojo
Summary via publisher, Business Expert Press
Why are some global financial crises more difficult to recover from than others? What steps are necessary to insure that recovery is initiated and financial stability restored? These are just some of the questions which this book addresses. It provides insights into why global financial crises have become more complicated to address than was previously the case. This book contends that pro cyclicality and capital measures should not be the sole focus of the G20s initiatives. It recognizes that other important issues, such as liquidity risks and requirements have, to a large extent, constituted the focus of international standard setters and regulators. This book also covers previously ignored issues such as the ‘cartelization’ of capital markets.
How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region
By Joe Studwell
Review via The Economist
In 1989 John Williamson, a British economist in Washington, DC, listed ten economic policies that enjoyed the backing of the IMF, the World Bank and many of their clients in Latin America. Whatever the merits of these policies, the “Washington consensus”, as he called it, proved badly named. Its prescriptions—stabilise, privatise and liberalise—have caused no end of controversy. Almost 25 years later, they get another drubbing in Joe Studwell’s provocative new book, “How Asia Works”.
But Mr Studwell’s own manifesto for economic success does resemble the Washington consensus in one respect: it holds that poor economies can prosper by following a short recipe of tried and tested policies. This is now an unfashionable approach among economists, who have turned their attention from policies to “institutions”: the social and political constraints that weigh on ministers, whatever policies they avow. Most authors shy away from prescriptions for success, arguing that every development dish is different.
The Fall of the Celtic Tiger: Ireland and the Euro Debt Crisis
By Donal Donovan and Antoin Murphy
Review via The Financial Times
No banker, politician, regulator or auditor has been found guilty of any crime related to one of the worst financial crises in history, which led to a humiliating €67.5bn bailout in 2010. But Irish economists Donal Donovan and Antoin Murphy set out to answer some of the many remaining questions and dispel a few myths.
Their first target is the assertion that the root cause of all the problems was a banking crisis caused by a property bubble. The banking meltdown, which has required taxpayers to stump up €64bn to recapitalise the country’s main lenders, has captured the most headlines. This is hardly surprising given the characters involved, from Seán FitzPatrick, Anglo Irish Bank chairman, to Johnny Ronan, the flamboyant developer whose company in 2006 bought the site of London’s derelict Battersea Power Station.
Blaming a narrow group of bankers and developers suits a Dublin government seeking aid from its European partners to recapitalise its bust lenders. But it underplays the depth of the fiscal crisis in which, regardless of the banking crisis, Ireland found itself.
Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Empirical Finance
Editors/Authors: A. Bell, C. Brooks, M. Prokopczuk
Summary via publisher, Edward Elgar Publishing
The objective of this book is to present the quantitative techniques that are commonly employed in empirical finance research together with real world, state of the art research examples. Each chapter is written by international experts in their fields. The unique approach is to describe a question or issue in finance and then to demonstrate the methodologies that may be used to solve it. All of the techniques described are used to address real problems rather than being presented for their own sake and the areas of application have been carefully selected so that a broad range of methodological approaches can be covered.