Book Bits | 9.14.13

Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation
By Tyler Cowen
Interview with author via NPR
Economist Tyler Cowen has some advice for what to do about America’s income inequality: Get used to it. In his latest book, Average Is Over, Cowen lays out his prediction for where the U.S. economy is heading, like it or not: “I think we’ll see a thinning out of the middle class,” he tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep. “We’ll see a lot of individuals rising up to much greater wealth. And we’ll also see more individuals clustering in a kind of lower-middle class existence.”

Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare
By Juan Zarate
Summary via publisher, Public Affairs
Over the past decade, America has been waging a new kind of war against the financial networks of rogue regimes, proliferators, terrorist groups, and criminal syndicates. In this book, Juan Zarate—who, along with a dedicated group of Treasury officials, designed and implemented this strategy and capability—takes readers behind the scenes to explain in unprecedented detail how this group redefined the Treasury’s role, and used its unique powers, relationships, and reputation to apply financial pressure against America’s enemies. This new brand of financial power leveraged the private sector and created an international financial environment in which the private sector’s bottom line dovetailed directly with U.S. national security interests— with the goal of isolating rogues from the legitimate financial system. Treasury and its tools soon became critical in all the central geopolitical challenges facing the United States, including terrorism, proliferation, and regimes in North Korea, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Cuba. There has been very little written about the unique story of the U.S.’s financial warfare campaigns. This book is the definitive account, by an unparalleled authority on the subject.
The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives
By Sasha Abramsky
Interview with author via Democracy Now!
A new study shows that income inequality in America is at a record high. According to an analysis of tax filings, the income gap between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the other 99 percent widened to unprecedented levels in 2012. The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected more than 19 percent of household income, breaking a record previously set in 1927. Income inequality in the United States has been growing for almost three decades. We speak to Sasha Abramsky, author of the new book, “The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives.” It is written in the spirit of Michael Harrington’s groundbreaking 1962 book, “The Other America,” in which he chronicled the lives of people excluded from the ‘age of affluence.’ Harrington’s book went on to inspire President Lyndon B. Johnson’s subsequent “war on poverty.”
The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty
By Nina Munk
Review/commentary via Barron’s
This week, in New York City, Reason magazine hosted Vanity Fair contributing editor and author Nina Munk, as she discussed her recent book, The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty. The book chronicles the six-plus years Munk spent following the distinguished economist Jeffrey Sachs, from Dertu, Kenya to Ruhiira, Uganda, on his crusade to end extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
In her book, Munk purposely avoids passing judgement and lets her on-the-ground reporting speak for itself. Yet skeptical questioners in Tuesday night’s audience drew out her personal views on the subject. Much to Munk’s chagrin, she recounted the celebrity economist’s ultimate failure to deliver on his lofty promises.
The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business
by Duff McDonald
Review via Bloomberg
McKinsey & Co., the global fix-it firm for companies and governments, labored in Tanzania in the late 1960s and charged fees so high that they merited a line item in the country’s budget, according to “The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business.”
Hard-core capitalists might consider McKinsey’s big bills and say hooray for the free market. Demand a price the market will bear and all that.
Astonishingly, author Duff McDonald considers this and other dazzling examples of McKinsey’s greed and concludes that “in large part” the firm’s people aren’t motivated by money.
They aren’t?
13 Things Rich People Won’t Tell You: 250+ Tried-and-True Secrets to Building Your Fortune by Saving and Spending Smarter
By Jennifer Merritt with Roe D’Angelo
Summary via publisher, Reader’s Digest Trade Publishing
Bankers, money managers, fast-trackers, and the ultra-rich themselves spill valuable insider secrets on how to spend your money wisely—and when not to spend it at all. We talked to everyday and not-so-everyday rich folks, and to the experts who helped make them rich, to learn their secrets on what to save for, how much to save—and where to stash cash so that it grows. This book will enlighten you, horrify you, and give you a whole new perspective on when to spend and when to stash it deep in your pockets.
Financial Modelling and Asset Valuation with Excel
By By Morten Helbæk, Ragnar Løvaas, Jon Olav Mjølhus
Summary via publisher, Routledge
Finance is Excel! This book takes you straight into the fascinating world of Excel, the powerful tool for number crunching. In a clear cut language it amalgamates financial theory with Excel providing you with the skills you need to build financial models for private or professional use. A comprehensive knowledge of modeling in Excel is becoming increasingly important in a competitive labour market. The chapters in part one start with the most basic Excel topics such as cell addresses, workbooks, basic formulas, etc. These chapters get more advanced through part one, and takes you in the end to topics such as array formulas, data tables, pivot tables, etc. The other parts of the book discusses a variety of subjects such as net present value, internal rate of return, risk, portfolio theory, CAPM, VaR, project valuation, asset valuation, firm valuation, loan, leasing, stocks, bonds, options, simulation, sensitivity analysis, etc.