The Shadow Market: How a Group of Wealthy Nations and Powerful Investors Secretly Dominate the World
By Eric J. Weiner
Review via New York Times Book Review
“The ‘shadow market’ Weiner refers to — not to be confused with the ‘shadow banking system,’ which was largely blamed for the collapse of our economy — is ‘the invisible and ever-shifting global nexus where money mixes with geopolitical power,’ a vague and ominous allusion to sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds and private equity funds. Weiner argues that these huge pools of unregulated capital have come to dominate the world financial system, largely without our noticing it, and that as a result the United States has lost much of its economic influence. While he discusses the investment arms of the governments of Qatar, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, the book could have been subtitled ‘How China Cooked America in Soy Sauce and Ate It for Dinner,’ since China is Weiner’s most intimidating example. According to his worldview, our friendly adversary in the Far East has the United States in a headlock, and we should all be stockpiling ­potato seeds and scrambling to learn Mandarin.”

Risk and the Smart Investor
By David X. Martin
Commentary via author’s web site
“Every person’s risk appetite—which, of course, varies throughout life—depends on a number of factors. Some of them are personal, some of them are social, and some of them are purely economic. Age is the most important of the personal factors. The young, as a rule, have both a greater appetite and a much higher tolerance for risk. The young, in fact, often seek danger for its own sake—perhaps because they have been shielded from it as children, and so want a look, or perhaps because they believe that any misfortune that befalls them can always be undone…Once one person settles in with another, however, their appetite for risk almost immediately declines. Add children, or adult dependents, and suddenly risk, once seductive, begins to lose its looks. It is one of the great ironies of life, however, that it is precisely at that moment that risk management becomes an even more essential component of one’s life plan.”
Hard Money: Taking Gold to a Higher Investment Level
By Shayne McGuire
Excerpt via John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
“The U.S. government’s freedom from risk was severely undermined by the 2008 financial crisis. In what Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist called ‘the Great Swap,’ the U.S. government was forced not only to spend as consumers moved to save; it also had to swap its quality assets (Treasury obligations) for malodorous mortgage-backed securities and other assets of extremely poor quality to help banks cleanse their balance sheets and be able to lend again. Due to the severity of the credit crisis, the U.S. government was forced to undermine the quality of its balance sheet, which put the risk-free interest rate into question. Unfortunately, the crisis arrived just as government spending was about to begin to surge: On January 1, 2008, the first of 78 million Americans, members of the baby boom generation, began to retire and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid expenditures are beginning to expand dramatically. As our leaders deal with these tremendous challenges, which present investment risks to U.S. Treasury bondholders, it is probable that some part of the trillions the world has invested in U.S. Treasury obligations will begin to move into gold.”
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
By Matt Ridley
Review via Cato Institute
“Ridley, science writer and popularizer of evolutionary psychology, shows how it was trade and specialization of labor–and the resulting massive growth in technological sophistication–that hauled humanity from its impoverished past to its comparatively rich present. These trends will continue, he argues, and will solve many of today’s most pressing problems, from the spread of disease to the threat of climate change.”
History of Greed: Financial Fraud from Tulip Mania to Bernie Madoff
By David E.Y. Sarna
Review via Bloomberg BusinessWeek
“As Sarna shows, financial villains have weaved through history for centuries, but none actually causes booms or busts. The real threat is that, as the economy has become global, greed has been democratized.”