Book Bits: 8 May 2021

Strategic Risk Management: Designing Portfolios and Managing Risk
Campbell R. Harvey, et al.
Interview with co-author (Sandy Rattray) via HedgeWeek
Rattray – who has co-authored a new book on strategic risk management along with Man Group strategy advisor Professor Campbell Harvey, and Otto Van Hemert, director of core strategies at quant-focused Man AHL – believes the upheaval of the past 12 months have rendered tail event predictions “nearly impossible.”
Their new book, titled Strategic Risk Management: Designing Portfolios and Managing Risk, explores how risk management should be incorporated into the core design of investment portfolios, and examines how portfolio balancing and balanced return streams can be achieved through volatility targeting of higher-risk asset classes, and which defensive strategies offer capital protection.

Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe
Niall Ferguson
Summary via publisher (Penguin Press)
Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics, cliodynamics, and network science, Doom offers not just a history but a general theory of disasters, showing why our ever more bureaucratic and complex systems are getting worse at handing them. Doom is the lesson of history that this country–indeed the West as a whole–urgently needs to learn, if we want to handle the next crisis better, and to avoid the ultimate doom of irreversible decline.

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story
Michael Lewis
Review via NPR
According to Lewis, the tragedy that became the American coronavirus pandemic was a perfect storm of the reaction of the president at the time, Donald Trump, the long history of politicization of the CDC and the lack of a public health care system all coming together.
“I think all my characters would say that because of the way we fail to govern ourselves, the way we fail to create a system, this would have been pretty bad under almost any administration and that it would have exposed the holes in the system and the weaknesses in the system, the absence of the system,” Lewis says.

The Tyranny of Big Tech
Josh Hawley
Review via Wired
Where Hawley’s book departs from the standard anti-tech treatise is in his attempt to tie the current moment into a grand theory of American political history. In Hawley’s telling, people like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are the direct ideological descendants of the original Gilded Age robber barons. Their dominance is the culmination of what he calls “corporate liberalism,” a philosophy in which, he writes, the state and big business conspire to deny the common man his independence and self-government. According to Hawley, corporate liberalism became entrenched a century ago in both major political parties, and today, “Big Tech and Big Government seek to extend their influence over every area of American life.”

Fed Up!: Success, Excess and Crisis Through the Eyes of a Hedge Fund Macro Trader
Colin Lancaster
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
Fed Up! tells the story of a global macro trader working amidst the greatest market panic we have seen since the Great Depression. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the world, readers are taken through the late-stage decadence of an exuberant market bubble to the depths of the market crash and into the early innings of a recovery. It provides readers with a front row seat on trading activity, allowing them to experience the heartbeat of the markets.

Money and Power: The World Leaders Who Changed Economics
Vince Cable
Review via BusinessLine
If economic theories have the salience to change the world, the political leaders who put these theories into practice deserve a deeper study as they are the ones who are instrumental in making people accept and implement the transformations.
Whether it is the “New Deal” of Franklin Roosevelt, the “New Economic Policy” of Vladimir Lenin or the “socialism with Chinese characteristics” of Deng Xiaoping, the leaders who changed economics are fascinating topics for academic examination.

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