Book Bits | 9 April 2016

The Gray Rhino: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore
By Michele Wucker
Summary via publisher (St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan)
A “gray rhino” is a highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat: kin to both the elephant in the room and the improbable and unforeseeable black swan. Gray rhinos are not random surprises, but occur after a series of warnings and visible evidence. The bursting of the housing bubble in 2008, the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, the new digital technologies that upended the media world, the fall of the Soviet Union…all were evident well in advance. Why do leaders and decision makers keep failing to address obvious dangers before they spiral out of control? Drawing on her extensive background in policy formation and crisis management, as well as in-depth interviews with leaders from around the world, Michele Wucker shows in The Gray Rhino how to recognize and strategically counter looming high impact threats.

The New Case for Gold
By James Rickards
Excerpt via Fortune
The United States has excellent deterrent capabilities in cyberwarfare through the military’s Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA). However, insufficient effort has been devoted to strategic doctrine. Only a few experts such as Juan Zarate at the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, and Jim Lewis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies are performing roles comparable to those that Herman Kahn and Henry Kissinger performed in the 1960s when strategic nuclear war fighting doctrine evolved. This strategic deficiency increases the risk of cyberfinancial war. That threat is one more reason to own gold because it is not digital and cannot be hacked or erased.

High Yield Debt: An Insider’s Guide to the Marketplace (Wiley Finance)
By Rajay Bagaria
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
High Yield Debt is the one-stop resource for wealth advisors seeking an in-depth understanding of this misunderstood asset class. The high yield market provides a diverse opportunity set, including fixed and floating rate debt, high and low quality debt issues and both short- and long-term duration; but many fail to understand that not all high yield exposure is the same, and that different market segments and strategies work best at different points in the economic cycle. This guide addresses the confusion surrounding high yield debt. You’ll find the information you need to decide whether or not to buy in to a high yield fund, and how to evaluate the opportunities and risks without getting lost in the jargon.

Why Save the Bankers?: And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis
By Thomas Piketty, translated by Seth Ackerman
Review via Kirkus Reviews
The noted scholar of inequality (Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 2014, etc.) looks at recent events through an economist’s lens.
These columns from Libération, the leftist newsmagazine founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, span the years 2008 to the near-present and focus largely on European matters, especially the crisis of the Eurozone in the last few years and its predecessor meltdown in the wake of the global financial downturn of 2007. This odd period, Piketty remarks, is characterized by a decline in income even as wealth increases markedly—a seeming contradiction but all of a piece with how fortunes are amassed and transferred.

Naked Money: A Revealing Look at What It Is and Why It Matters
By Charles Wheelan
Summary via publisher (W.W. Norton)
The best-selling Naked series tackles the weird world of money. Consider the $20 bill. It has no more value, as a simple slip of paper, than Monopoly money. Yet even children recognize that tearing one into small pieces is an act of inconceivable stupidity. What makes a $20 bill actually worth twenty dollars? In the third volume of his best-selling Naked series, Charles Wheelan uses this seemingly simple question to open the door to the surprisingly colorful world of money and banking.

Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America
By Tamara Draut
Review via US News & World Report
In her new book, “Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America,” Draut argues that the trajectory of the working class has not been sustainable. But she also details a newly emerging working class – one largely made up of people of color and women who hold service jobs – that is overtaking what traditionally has been a manufacturing-based sector dominated by white males
It’s precisely the decline of that traditional working class – along with the frustration and distrust accompanying its demise, which largely have gone ignored by the Republican Party elite – that helped provide an opening for Trump 2016 and its populist-driven agenda.

Bloodsport: When Ruthless Dealmakers, Shrewd Ideologues, and Brawling Lawyers Toppled the Corporate Establishment
By Robert Teitelman
Summary via publisher (Public Affairs)
The epic battle of the fascinating, flawed figures behind America’s deal culture and their fight over who controls and who benefits from the immense wealth of American corporations. Bloodsport is the story of how the mania for corporate deals and mergers all began. The riveting tale of how power lawyers Joe Flom and Marty Lipton, major Wall Street players Felix Rohatyn and Bruce Wasserstein, prominent jurists, and shrewd ideologues in academic garb provided the intellectual firepower, creativity, and energy that drove the corporate elite into a less cozy, Hobbesian world.

Scandalous Economics: Gender and the Politics of Financial Crises
Edited by Aida A. Hozic and Jacqui True (Editor)
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Of all of the lies, fragile alliances, and predatory financial dealings that have been revealed in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, we have yet to come to terms with the ways in which structural inequalities around gender and race factor into (and indeed make possible) the current economic order. Scandalous Economics is about “silences” – the astonishing neglect of gender and race in explanations of the Global Financial Crisis. But, it is also about “noises” – the sexual scandals and gendered austerity policies that have relegated public debate, and the crisis itself, into political oblivion.