Book Bits For Saturday: 11.5.2011

Beyond the Keynesian Endpoint: Crushed by Credit and Deceived by Debt — How to Revive the Global Economy
By Tony Crescenzi
Summary via publisher, FT Press
Since the 1930s, governments have overcome recessions by borrowing and spending to temporarily replace lost consumer and business spending. What happens when they can’t do it anymore? In Beyond the Keynesian Endpoint, PIMCO Executive VP Tony Crescenzi offers a sobering tour of today’s unprecedented global sovereign debt crisis. Crescenzi shows how exhausted national balance sheets have stripped policymakers of their ability to bolster growth… how investors are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate debt-ridden markets… how increased spending intended to cure the financial crisis is instead worsening it. He dissects each scenario for the future, and reveals the crisis’ profound long-term implications for governments, investors, and the global economy.

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
By Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen
Summary via publisher, HarperCollins
Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague Morten Hansen enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous and fast-moving times. This book is classic Collins: contrarian, data-driven and uplifting.
Borderless Economics: Chinese Sea Turtles, Indian Fridges and the New Fruits of Global Capitalism
By Robert Guest
Review via Foreign Affairs
In this highly readable and personal account built on interviews with emigrants from many countries, Guest, business editor of The Economist, contends that voluntary emigration almost always benefits the emigrants and usually benefits their countries of origin and destination, too. In recent decades, Chinese and Indian overseas diasporas have played a crucial role in generating rapid growth in their home countries, as their members have created businesses and opened foreign marketing channels. To be sure, international migration also has a dark side, in the form of criminal organizations and terrorist networks that exploit open borders. But Guest argues that immigration is an especially important source of vitality for the United States, which does a remarkably good job of providing a hospitable and productive home for immigrants and their children, compared with other developed countries.
The High-Beta Rich: How the Manic Wealthy Will Take Us to the Next Boom, Bubble, and Bust
By Robert Frank
Review via Publishers Weekly
While the recession continues to wreak havoc in the economic lives of the nation’s middle- and low-income population, Frank provides a cogent explanation of how megabillionaires have contributed to today’s economic conditions and heightened economic inequities. Furthermore, he shows that few are genuinely interested in job creation or the long-term prosperity of others. Frank’s readers are left with a depressing sense of an economic order where the average American family will continue to see a decline in its standard of living with few solutions in sight.
The Great Recession
Edited by David Grusky, Bruce Western, and Christopher Wimer
Summary via publisher, Russell Sage Foundation Publications
Officially over in 2009, the Great Recession is now generally acknowledged to be the most devastating global economic crisis since the Great Depression. As a result of the crisis, the United States lost more than 7.5 million jobs, and the unemployment rate doubled—peaking at more than 10 percent. The collapse of the housing market and subsequent equity market fluctuations delivered a one-two punch that destroyed trillions of dollars in personal wealth and made many Americans far less financially secure. Still reeling from these early shocks, the U.S. economy will undoubtedly take years to recover. Less clear, however, are the social effects of such economic hardship on a U.S. population accustomed to long periods of prosperity. How are Americans responding to these hard times? The Great Recession is the first authoritative assessment of how the aftershocks of the recession are affecting individuals and families, jobs, earnings and poverty, political and social attitudes, lifestyle and consumption practices, and charitable giving.Focused on individual-level effects rather than institutional causes, The Great Recession turns to leading experts to examine whether the economic aftermath caused by the recession is transforming how Americans live their lives, what they believe in, and the institutions they rely on.
Pension Finance: Putting the Risks and Costs of Defined Benefit Plans Back Under Your Control (Wiley Finance)
By M. Barton Waring
Excerpt via publisher, Wiley
Defined benefit (DB) pension plans in the United States are in a state of crisis, a crisis that is measured in the trillions of dollars of value and a crisis that has not been sufficiently acknowledged or fully recognized. Yet, serious students of pension finance have known of this problem for years; it is as if we have an early-warning system but are ignoring the alarm. We needed such advance warning before Enron Corporation’s collapse or before AIG’s or Lehman Brothers’ failures but did not have it. So, we are lucky to have such warning. Will we pay attention to it in time, or is it human nature to deny a crisis until it is simply too late?