Book Bits | 7 March 2015

What’s Your Future Worth?: Using Present Value to Make Better Decisions
By Peter Neuwirth
Excerpt via publisher (Berrett-Koehler)
Almost all of us imagine the future impact of the choices we make, but what distinguishes the actuarial perspective from the way people normally make decisions is that by using Present Value we can think about our choices in a systematic way that takes into account some aspects of the future that we rarely consider. In particular, when we use Present Value we try to imagine not just what we think the future impact of our choices will be, but rather consider all the possible futures each choice might lead to. And even more important than considering all the future consequences that a given choice might lead to, we consider when those future consequences might show themselves.
In summary, using the actuarial perspective means thinking about the future in a systematic way and using the idea of Present Value—the value today of something that might happen in the future—to make better choices.

Genealogy of American Finance
By Robert E. Wright and Richard Sylla
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
In this unique, well-illustrated book, readers learn how fifty financial corporations came to dominate the U.S. banking system and their impact on the nation’s political, social, and economic growth. A story that spans more than two centuries of war, crisis, and opportunity, this account reminds readers that American banking was never a fixed enterprise but has evolved in tandem with the country.

The Energy World is Flat: Opportunities from the End of Peak Oil
By Daniel Lacalle and Diego Parrilla
Q&A with author via CFA Institute
Q: Daniel, you have been quite bearish about the fundamentals driving the oil price in the long term; I guess you must be feeling vindicated these days?
A: Evidence was mounting and very few wanted to acknowledge it. While the “peak oil” conspiracy theory continued to be proven wrong, its message remained in the public consciousness, and the oversupply in the oil market grew. I received a lot of criticism, particularly about the resilience and strength of the non-OPEC supply growth as well as the slowdown in Chinese demand. Today, no one questions it — I hope.

The Value of Debt in Retirement: Why Everything You Have Been Told Is Wrong
By Thomas J. Anderson
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Conventional wisdom is wrong – being debt free in retirement may actually increase your risk. The Value of Debt in Retirement teaches you how incorporating debt into your retirement strategy may increase your return, lower your taxes and actually lower your risk. You read that right. If handled correctly, debt—that thing we’ve all been taught to avoid—can play an integral role in your life, especially in retirement. New York Times Best Selling Author and nationally acclaimed financial expert Tom Anderson shows you how to use the time tested strategies of the best companies and the ultra rich to retire comfortably, minimize taxes, buy the things you have always wanted to have and do the things you have always wanted to do.

Private Equity Fund Investments: New Insights on Alignment of Interests, Governance, Returns and Forecasting (Global Financial Markets)
By Cyril Demaria
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan )
Why invest in private equity funds? Returns are the obvious reason. However, not all investors are looking for the same level, occurrence, and recurrence of returns, nor indeed the same level of associated risks. Moreover, the selection of a fund manager can lead to a great number of uncertainties, such as fluctuating alignment of interests, evolving macroeconomic conditions, and declining marginal returns. This book presents new, advanced, evidence-based guidance on investing in private equity funds: first by assessing the investor’s environment and motivations, then by looking into the risks, returns, and overall performance of funds and finally, by offering practical solutions to the illiquidity conundrum.

The Economy of the Word: Language, History, and Economics
By Keith Tribe
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
It was only in the sixteenth century that texts began to refer to the significance of “economic activity” — of sustaining life. This was not because the ordinary business of life was thought unimportant, but because the principles governing economic conduct were thought to be obvious or uncontroversial. The subsequent development of economic writing thus parallels the development of capitalism in Western Europe. From the seventeenth to the twenty-first century there has been a constant shift in content, audience, and form of argument as the literature of economic argument developed. The Economy of the Word proposes that to understand the various forms that economic literature has taken, we need to adopt a more literary approach in economics specifically, to adopt the instruments and techniques of philology. This way we can conceive the history of economic thought to be an on-going work in progress, rather than the story of the emergence of modern economic thinking. This approach demands that we pay attention to the construction of particular texts, showing the work of economic argument in different contexts. In sum, we need to pay attention to the “economy of the word”.

Impact Investment: A Practical Guide to Investment Process and Social Impact Analysis
By Keith A. Allman
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Impact Investment is a must-read guide for investors and wealth managers entering the social finance investment space known as “impact investing.” This book walks readers through the demanding task of properly executing an impact investment strategy, providing solutions to some of the most vexing challenges that arise when investing for both financial return and social impact. Readers will learn how impact investing is different from other strategies, how the organization’s mission affects investment decisions and structures, and what to look for in an organization prior to investing. A running example of a village distribution company illustrates the methods and concepts in action, and a full-fledged case study utilizing downloadable professional level analytical tools consolidates all examples into a real-world setting.