Book Bits: 7 November 2020

The Mismeasure of Progress: Economic Growth and Its Critics
Stephen J. Macekura
Summary via publisher (Chicago U. Press)
Few ideas in the past century have had wider financial, political, and governmental impact than that of economic growth. The common belief that endless economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, is not only possible but actually essential for the flourishing of civilization remains a powerful policy goal and aspiration for many. In The Mismeasure of Progress, Stephen J. Macekura exposes a historical road not taken, illuminating the stories of the activists, intellectuals, and other leaders who long argued that GDP growth was not all it was cracked up to be.

Frame It Again: New Tools for Rational Decision-Making
José Luis Bermúdez
Interview with author via Illinois Public Media
The 21st show was joined by author and professor José Luis Bermúdez about his new book, Frame it Again: New Tools for Rational Decision-Making. It’s a thorough and complicated book on the way frames — essentially how we think about things, from the political to the personal — shape our thinking, decisions, and behavior. And he says by better understanding framing — we can make better decisions.

The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking
Roman Krznaric
Interview with author via The Good Life/The Investor’s Network podcast
We explore the idea of thinking long-term, and we learn about some very long-term projects. Along the way, Roman takes us on a journey. He talks about a Cathedral in Germany that took over 500 years to build, a clock being built in Texas designed to last 10,000 years, a seed vault in the arctic circle designed to preserve seeds for 1,000 years, and others. We learn about the importance of long-term thinking, as well as the battle in our heads between our “marshmallow” and our “acorn” brain.

Unknown Market Wizards: The best traders you’ve never heard of
Jack D. Schwager
Review/author profile via OPTO Trading Intelligence
In his book Unknown Market Wizards: The Best Traders You’ve Never Heard of Schwager focuses on solo traders that were not only operating in complete obscurity but, amazingly, had some of the “best performance records I have ever encountered.” Several of these traders were discovered via FundSeeder.com.

Automation and the Future of Work
Aaron Benanav
Summary via publisher (Verso)
Silicon Valley titans, politicians, techno-futurists and social critics have united in arguing that we are living on the cusp of an era of rapid technological automation, heralding the end of work as we know it. But does the much-discussed “rise of the robots” really explain the jobs crisis that awaits us on the other side of the coronavirus? In Automation and the Future of Work, Aaron Benanav uncovers the structural economic trends that will shape our working lives far into the future.

China’s Rise and the New Age of Gold: How Investors Can Profit from a Changing World
Stephen Leeb and Donna Leeb
Summary via publisher McGraw Hill Professional
China’s growing role in the global economy is showing no sign of retreat. Indeed, recent events have only increased China’s influence—to the point where China is poised to edge out the United States and take the lead. For investors like you, this tectonic shift poses difficult challenges—along with tremendous opportunities. In China’s Rise and the New Age of Gold, one of the 21st Century’s top economic experts, Stephen Leeb, lays out his compelling argument that explosive gains in gold lie ahead. Gold’s price will increase dramatically to as high as $20,000 an ounce. Investing in gold will be the best (and perhaps only) way to generate substantial investing profits in this decade and beyond.

The Volatility Curse: Exogenous Shocks and Representation in Resource-Rich Democracies
Daniela Campello and Cesar Zucco
Summary via publisher (Cambridge U. Press)
The Volatility Curse examines the conditions under which economic voting can (and cannot) function as a mechanism of democratic accountability, challenging existing theories that are largely based on experiences in developed democracies. Drawing on cross-national data from around the world and micro-level evidence from Latin America, Daniela Campello and Cesar Zucco make two broad, related arguments. First, they show that economic voting is pervasive around the world, but in economically volatile developing democracies that are dependent on commodity exports and inflows of foreign capital, economic outcomes are highly contingent on conditions beyond government control, which nonetheless determine relevant political outcomes like elections, popular support, and government transitions. Second, politicians are aware of these misattribution patterns and are often able to anticipate their electoral prospects well before elections. This reduces incumbents’ incentives to maximize voter welfare, as anticipated by economic voting theories, and increases the likelihood of shirking, waste, and corruption.

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