Book Bits: 9 March 2024

Work, Retire, Repeat: The Uncertainty of Retirement in the New Economy
Teresa Ghilarducci
Summary via publisher (U. of Chicago Press)
Many argue that the solution to the financial straits of American retirement is simple: people need to just work longer. Yet this call to work longer is misleading in a multitude of ways, including its endangering of the health of workers and its discrimination against people who work in lower-wage occupations. In Work, Retire, Repeat, Teresa Ghilarducci tells the stories of elders locked into jobs—not because they love to work but because they must. But this doesn’t need to be the reality. Work, Retire, Repeat shows how relatively low-cost changes to how we finance and manage retirement will allow people to truly choose how they spend their golden years.

Guardrails: Guiding Human Decisions
in the Age of AI

Urs Gasser and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
Summary via publisher (Princeton U. Press)
When we make decisions, our thinking is informed by societal norms, “guardrails” that guide our decisions, like the laws and rules that govern us. But what are good guardrails in today’s world of overwhelming information flows and increasingly powerful technologies, such as artificial intelligence? Based on the latest insights from the cognitive sciences, economics, and public policy, Guardrails offers a novel approach to shaping decisions by embracing human agency in its social context.

The Trading Game: A Confession
Gary Stevenson
Excerpt via New York magazine
Over the course of a single week in 2010, I lost $8 million betting on Swiss interest rates. One of the only things I can recall about the next several months of my life is a brief conversation. Actually, it was more of a monologue. I remember it because it is probably the most important exchange I have ever had in my life.
I had become obsessed with understanding why I had lost that much money on a trade, and whether and how I would make it all back, and one part of that obsession involved going back to my textbooks from the London School of Economics. I stuffed them into my work bag and brought them to the 42nd floor of the Citigroup tower, and I read them in the afternoons when trading slowed down. I was looking for answers. Why was the Swiss franc appreciating? Was a negative 4.5 percent rate sustainable? Were the FX swaps prices really arbable?

Markets And Power In Digital Capitalism
Philipp Staab
Summary via publisher (Manchester U. Press)
Markets and power in digital capitalism delves into the complex world of modern capitalism, where technology giants reign supreme. From Google and Apple to Amazon and Tencent, these internet behemoths have reshaped the economic landscape, transforming capitalism as we know it. Philipp Staab takes readers on a thought-provoking journey through the virtual realm, exploring how digital surveillance and evaluation practices have infiltrated every aspect of our lives. What sets digital capitalism apart, he argues, is the rise of ‘proprietary markets’. No longer focused on producing goods and selling them for profit, today’s meta-platforms thrive by owning and controlling the very markets in which they operate. This raises important questions about power dynamics, market monopolies and the future of economic systems.

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