Book Bits For Saturday: 1.7.2012

American Gridlock: Why the Right and Left Are Both Wrong – Commonsense 101 Solutions to the Economic Crises
By H. Woody Brock
Summary via publisher, Wiley
Pessimism is ubiquitous throughout the Western World as the pressing issues of massive debt, high unemployment, and anemic economic growth divide the populace into warring political camps. Right-and Left-wing ideologues talk past each other, with neither side admitting the other has any good ideas. In American Gridlock, leading economist and political theorist H. Woody Brock bridges the Left/Right divide, illuminating a clear path out of our economic quagmire. Arguing from first principles and with rigorous logic, Brock demonstrates that the choice before us is not between free market capitalism and a government-driven economy. Rather, the solution to our problems will require enactment of constructive policies that allow “true” capitalism to flourish even as they incorporate social policies that help those who truly need it.

After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent
By Walter Laqueur
Review via The Wall Street Journal
When the West found itself lacking for serious rivals after the collapse of the Soviet Union, an era of optimism dawned on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.S., political scientist Francis Fukuyama dreamed about the “end of history,” an inexorable convergence toward liberal democracy. Meanwhile, in Europe, a few philosophers and Eurocrats entertained a similar dream of their own: the comforting idea that their continent was a natural blueprint for the rest of humanity. Going even further than Mr. Fukuyama, they predicted that the world wouldn’t just converge on some generic form of liberal democracy—but rather on its European incarnation, complete with an aversion to military force, a generous welfare state and the post-national form of sovereignty embodied by the European Union.
But as Walter Laqueur argues in “After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent,” this dream was delusional from the start. Mr. Laqueur’s case seems easy to make in these times. We have all become well-acquainted with Europe’s woes, from the sovereign-debt crisis to the danger that disagreements about how to handle it might tear the political institutions of the EU apart.
Slow Finance: Why Investment Miles Matter
By Gervais Williams
Summary via publisher, A & C Black Publishers
Thought-provoking and provocative, Slow Finance anticipates a profound change in public attitudes. It outlines how credit growth and globalisation have contributed to the excessive scale of the financial sector. Just as the Slow Food movement represents a reaction to the food industry losing sight of its ultimate purpose, Slow Finance explores how parallel trends will soon be reflected in the investment world. At once think-piece, potted history and call-to-action, the ideas in Slow Finance is an essential read for professionals, academics, business leaders and private investors alike, as well as policy-makers seeking a more sustainable approach to investing.
The Restructuring of Capitalism in Our Time
By William K. Tabb
Summary via publisher, Columbia University Press
Actions taken by the United States and other countries during the Great Recession focused on restoring the viability of major financial institutions while guaranteeing debt and stimulating growth. Once the markets stabilized, the United States enacted regulatory reforms that ultimately left basic economic structures unchanged. At the same time, the political class pursued austerity measures to curb the growing national debt. Drawing on the economic theories of Keynes and Minsky and applying them to the modern evolution of American banking and finance, William K. Tabb offers a chilling prediction about future crises and the structural factors inhibiting true reform.
Mastering Hurst Cycle Analysis: A modern treatment of Hurst’s original system of financial market analysis
By Christopher Grafton
Summary via publisher, Harriman House
This book offers a modern treatment of Hurst’s original system of market cycle analysis. It will teach you how to get to the point where you can isolate cycles in any freely-traded financial instrument and make an assessment of their likely future course. Although Hurst’s methodology can seem outwardly complex, the logic underpinning it is straightforward. With practice the skill needed to conduct a full cycle analysis quickly and effectively will become second nature. The rewards for becoming adept are high conviction trades, tight risk management and mastery of a largely non-correlated system of analysis. In this extensive step-by-step guide you will find a full description of the principal tools and techniques taught by Hurst as well as over 120 colour charts, together with tables and diagrams. The Updata and TradeStation code for all of the indicators shown is also included.
Gurus and Oracles: The Marketing of Information
By Miklos Sarvary
Summary via publisher, MIT Press
We live in an “Information Age” of overabundant data and lightning-fast transmission. Yet although information and knowledge represent key factors in most economic decisions, we often forget that data, information, and knowledge are products created and traded within the knowledge economy. In Gurus and Oracles, Miklos Sarvary describes the information industry–the far-flung universe of companies whose core business is to sell information to decision makers. These companies include such long-established firms as Thomson Reuters (which began in 1850 with carrier pigeons relaying stock market news) as well as newer, dominant players like Google and Facebook. Sarvary highlights the special characteristics of information and knowledge and analyzes the unusual behaviors of the markets for them. He shows how technology contributes to the spectacular growth of this sector and how new markets for information change our economic environment.