Book Bits | 8 June 2019

Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us about Economics and Life
By Alan B. Krueger
Review via The New York Times
Mr. Krueger has a “knack of identifying important questions that he could convincingly answer with the data and data-analysis tools at his disposal,” as his former teacher, Lawrence Summers, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed after his death. And while “Rockonomics” does make ample use of data, it is the dozens of interviews Mr. Krueger conducted with industry artists, lawyers and executives that frame its highly personal preoccupations. Rather than just provide a tutorial in media economics, Professor Krueger schools us in the costs and benefits of creativity itself.
The result is a wide-ranging work that touches on topics as diverse as industry structure, personal financial management, income inequality, depression and intellectual property rights. The author’s sparkling intelligence and lively prose make for a thought-provoking and enjoyable read. But the sheer breadth of subjects makes it impossible to fully explore each of them.

Licence to be Bad: How Economics Corrupted Us
By Jonathan Aldred
Review via The Economist
In Thomas Gradgrind, Charles Dickens created an educator who saw his pupils as “reasoning animals”, with heads that should be filled with facts and little more. In “Licence to be Bad”, Jonathan Aldred, an academic at Cambridge University, casts economists as the modern Gradgrinds. They exercise a baleful influence on political discourse, he maintains, by taking a narrow view of humans as essentially selfish creatures, forever trying to maximise their own well-being.
As Mr Aldred points out, economists have not always thought this way. Adam Smith is a hero of free-market enthusiasts but, as well as “The Wealth of Nations”, he wrote “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, in which he opined: “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him.” In the 20th century John Maynard Keynes wrote that “economics is essentially a moral science and not a natural science. That is to say, it employs introspection and judgments of value.”

The Historical Performance of the Federal Reserve: The Importance of Rules
By Michael D. Bordo
Summary via publisher (Hoover Institution Press)
Distinguished economist Michael D. Bordo argues for the importance of monetary stability and monetary rules, offering theoretical, empirical, and historical perspectives to support his case. He shows how the pursuit of stable monetary policy guided by central banks following rule-like behavior produces low and stable inflation, stable real performance, and encourages financial stability. In contrast, he explains how the failure to adhere to rules that produce monetary stability will inevitably produce the dire consequences of real, nominal, and financial instability.

Happy Money: The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money
By Ken Honda
Summary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
Ken Honda—Japan’s #1 bestselling personal development guru—knows that getting rich quick is no way to achieve happiness. Too often, money is a source of fear, stress, and anger, often breaking apart relationships and even ruining lives. We like to think money is just a number or a piece of paper, but it is so much more than that. Money has the ability to smile, it changes when it is given with a certain feeling, and the energy with which it imbues us impacts not only ourselves, but others as well.

Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It
By Scott Kupor
Summary via publisher (Portfolio)
If Silicon Valley is the greatest wealth-generating machine in the world, Sand Hill Road is its humming engine. That’s where you’ll find the biggest names in venture capital, including famed VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, where lawyer-turned-entrepreneur-turned-VC Scott Kupor serves as managing partner. Whether you’re trying to get a new company off the ground or scale an existing business to the next level, you need to understand how VCs think. In Secrets of Sand Hill Road, Kupor explains exactly how VCs decide where and how much to invest, and how entrepreneurs can get the best possible deal and make the most of their relationships with VCs.