Book Bits: 8 October 2022

The Cashless Revolution: China’s Reinvention of Money and the End of America’s Domination of Finance and Technology
Martin Chorzempa
Summary via publisher (Public Affairs Books)
The future of finance – the way Wall Street operates and how individuals manage their money – is on the verge of upheaval. And the force underlying the change comes from China, where finance and technology are being merged into a system with consequences that resonate far beyond China’s border. The changes of this global revolution in finance and technology – fintech – will be as powerful as those wrought in social media, retailing and advertising by giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, which have overturned how we shop and communicate. China reinvented money with lightning speed, transforming a backward, antiquated cash-based finance system into one centered on super-apps created by technology giants Alibaba and Tencent.

The Risk Paradox: Life Lessons from 102 Amazing Risk-Takers
Alan Ying and Doug Schneider
Summary via publisher (Amplify Publishing)
Why do some people avoid risk at all costs, while others embrace it? How do you know when to take a chance or when to walk away? And what happens after a risk pays off handsomely, crashes miserably, or lands in the muddy middle of life? The Risk Paradox explores the stories of over one hundred notable risk-takers, in business and life. This unprecedented study provides fascinating, intimate views on risk and its meaning—before, during, and after the plunge. The authors’ research underscores lessons and secrets of those who embrace risk as a part of life, taking us to the heart of the Risk Paradox itself: taking a risk is the least risky thing you can do to live a fulfilling life.

Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology
Chris Miller
Q&A with author via Protocol
“World War II was decided by steel and aluminum, and followed shortly thereafter by the Cold War, which was defined by atomic weapons,” Chris Miller, a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, writes in the introduction to his latest book. So what’s next? According to Miller, the next era, including the rivalry between the U.S. and China, is all about computing power. That tech rivalry and the story of how the chip industry got from four to 11.8 billion transistors are all part of Miller’s book, “Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology,” which comes out Oct. 4. “Chip War” outlines the nature of the coming battle over semiconductors, showing how the power to produce leading-edge chips fell into the hands of just five companies: three from the U.S., one from Japan, and one from the Netherlands.

When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm
Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe
Review via The New York Times
Over the last several years, however, the press and the public started to pay more attention to McKinsey and its influence, and the firm underwent a reputational reversal. As Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe, reporters for The New York Times, document in their deeply reported book, “When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World’s Most Powerful Consulting Firm,” McKinsey has worked with opioid makers, hostile autocratic governments, cigarette companies and U.S. immigration authorities responsible for the family separation policy at the southern border. Reading Bogdanich and Forsythe’s account, one has a hard time imagining any paying client the firm would turn away. Many of the company’s recommendations follow a predictable Milton Friedman-inspired playbook, centering on “right-sizing,” an absurdist euphemism for laying off workers, and other forms of cutting costs, such as reducing expenditures on food, medical care and the supervision of detainees at the border.

Why Governments Get It Wrong: And How They Can Get It Right
Dennis C. Grube
Summary via publisher (Pan Macmillan)
In Why Governments Get It Wrong, renowned Cambridge professor and former political speechwriter Dennis C. Grube explores the pitfalls, failures and successes of those in power around the world. Across an array of policy issues we meet politicians who fumble their brief, while others seem on top of it and able to project a sense of calm. With insight and wit, Grube explains how governments can improve their decision-making. Examining fascinating case studies – from the UK school exam fiasco during the pandemic to gun reform in Australia, and sanitation in India – Grube highlights the key factors that make for effective government. With the stakes higher than ever before, this original and important book is an essential read for any concerned citizen who wants to understand why governments make the wrong decisions and, crucially, what can be done about it.

Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away
Annie Duke
Review via The Wall Street Journal
If you read the business pages, it’s been almost impossible to ignore the many articles on the topic of “quiet quitting” in recent months. This buzzy term refers to employees—at least half the U.S. workforce, according to polling—resolving to meet only the bare minimum requirements of their job descriptions. When it comes to giving up, however, Annie Duke has something louder in mind. In “Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away,” the author, consultant and former professional poker player proposes that quitting, the unambiguous kind, ought to be seen as a virtue and honed as a skill integral to both professional and personal success. Instead, it’s often maligned by a culture that valorizes grit and tenacity.

Stocks for the Long Run: The Definitive Guide to Financial Market Returns & Long-Term Investment Strategies, Sixth Edition
Jeremy Siegel
Summary via publisher (Wharton School Press)
The long-awaited revised edition of the stock trading classic gets you fully up to date on value investing, ESG investing, and other important developments. The definitive guide to stock trading, Stocks for the Long Run has been providing the knowledge, insights, and tools that traders need to beat the market for nearly 30 years. This new edition brings you fully up to date on everything you need to know to draw steady profits for yourself or your clients. It’s been updated with new chapters and content

Divided We Fall: Why Consensus Matters
Alice M. Rivlin, et al.
Summary via publisher (Brookings Institution Press)
Rivlin believes that Americans can and must save our hyper-partisan politicians from themselves. She makes the case that on many practical economic issues the public is far less divided than partisan politicians and sensationalist media would have us believe. She draws attention to numerous hopeful efforts to bridge partisan and ideological divides in Washington, in state capitols and city governments, and communities around the country, and advocates a major national effort to enable citizens and future leaders to learn and practice the art of listening to each other and working together to find common ground.

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