Book Bits | 8 April 2017

The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time
By Gordon Lafer
Summary via publisher (Cornell University Press)
In the aftermath of the 2010 Citizens United decision, it’s become commonplace to note the growing political dominance of a small segment of the economic elite. But what exactly are those members of the elite doing with their newfound influence? The One Percent Solution provides an answer to this question for the first time. Gordon Lafer’s book is a comprehensive account of legislation promoted by the nation’s biggest corporate lobbies across all fifty state legislatures and encompassing a wide range of labor and economic policies.

A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System
By T.R. Reid
Review via Publishers Weekly
Washington Post correspondent Reid (The Healing of America) examines taxation in countries around the world to find alternatives to the American system in this highly readable and informative book. In the U.S., Reid notes, paying taxes is more time-consuming and expensive than in many other countries. Insisting that we can make the tax system “simpler, fairer, and more efficient,” Reid examines a number of options: flat versus progressive tax rates; wealth tax; value-added taxes. Simple charts easily show differences between countries. He also reviews taxation programs that governments use to change behavior—taxes on soft drinks, carbon emissions, and financial activities. Reid declares that the current U.S. corporate income tax system simply “isn’t working” and that nearly “every economist and political figure in America agrees… our tax code has to be reformed.”

The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction
By Richard Bookstaber
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Our economy may have recovered from the Great Recession—but not our economics. In The End of Theory, Richard Bookstaber, one of the world’s leading risk managers, discusses why the human condition and the radical uncertainty of our world renders the standard economic model—and the theory behind it—useless for dealing with financial crises. What model should replace it? None. At least not any version we’ve been using for the past two hundred years. Instead, Bookstaber argues for a new approach called agent-based economics, one that takes as a starting point the fact that we are humans, not the optimizing automatons that standard economics assumes we are.

Loan Sharks: The Birth of Predatory Lending
By Charles R. Geisst
Summary via publisher (Brookings Institution Press)
Loan Sharks is the first history of predatory lending in the United States. It traces the origins of modern consumer lending to such older practices as salary buying and hidden interest charges. Yet, as Geisst shows, no-holds-barred loan sharking is not a thing of the past. Many current lending practices employed today by credit card companies, payday lenders, and providers of consumer loans would have been easily recognizable at the end of the nineteenth century. Geisst demonstrates the still-prevalent practice of lenders charging high interest rates, especially to risky borrowers, despite attempts to control the practice, mostly by individual states. Usury and loan sharking have not disappeared, a century-and-a-half after the predatory practices first raised public concern.

Easternization: Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline From Obama to Trump and Beyond
By Gideon Rachman
Review via Publishers Weekly
Rachman (Zero-Sum Game), chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, takes a cue from the tide of Westernization that gradually spread over the globe from the 15th century onward, and is only now being beaten back by the growing economic, strategic, and military power of Asia, with China at its fore. “Easternization,” Rachman contends, is the central problem with which the U.S. will have to contend in the 21st century; the much-vaunted “pivot to Asia” notwithstanding, the rise of Asia will have myriad and far-flung consequences for regions as seemingly disparate as Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. Weaving a smattering of history with insights gleaned from his interviews with global power players, Rachman offers a fast-paced and diverting analysis of the challenges facing U.S. foreign policy in the Pacific.

Retirement: Your New Beginning: Leveraging Over 1000 Clients Through Their Retirement for the Past 20 Years
By Sid Miramontes
Summary via publisher (Morgan James Publishing)
Morgan James’s new book release, Retirement: Your New Beginning: Leveraging Over 1000 Clients Through Their Retirement for the Past 20 Years by Sid Miramontes helps individuals create their very own personal retirement plan that focuses on the human side of retirement. Retirement can be a confusing process. Miramontes seeks to make retiring more comprehensible by educating individuals on commonly confused retirement concepts. Retirement simplifies the retirement process and helps individuals begin to visualize their futures in a stress reduced way. Miramontes has helped over 1000 individuals retire and can help thousands more retire as well.