Book Bits For Saturday: 3.26.2011

Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, and You Can Do Better
By Dan Gardner
Review via New York Times Book Review
What does the future hold? To answer that question, human beings have looked to stars and to dreams; to cards, dice and the Delphic oracle; to animal entrails, Alan Green­span, mathematical models, the palms of our hands. As the number and variety of these soothsaying techniques suggest, we have a deep, probably intrinsic desire to know the future. Unfortunately for us, the future is deeply, intrinsically unknowable. This is the problem Dan Gardner tackles in “Future Babble.”

Economic Facts and Fallacies: Second Edition
By Thomas Sowell
Summary via publisher, Basic Books
In Economic Facts and Fallacies, Thomas Sowell exposes some of the most popular fallacies about economic issues in a lively manner that does not require any prior knowledge of economics. These fallacies include many beliefs widely disseminated in the media and by politicians, such as fallacies about urban problems, income differences, male-female economic differences, as well as economic fallacies about academia, about race, and about Third World countries.Sowell shows that fallacies are not simply crazy ideas but in fact have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power–and makes careful examination of their flaws both necessary and important.
The End of Energy: The Unmaking of America’s Environment, Security, and Independence
By Michael Graetz
Summary via publisher, MIT Press
Americans take for granted that when we flip a switch the light will go on, when we turn up the thermostat the room will get warm, and when we pull up to the pump gas will be plentiful and relatively cheap. In The End of Energy, Michael Graetz shows us that we have been living an energy delusion for forty years. Until the 1970s, we produced domestically all the oil we needed to run our power plants, heat our homes, and fuel our cars. Since then, we have had to import most of the oil we use, much of it from the Middle East. And we rely on an even dirtier fuel—coal—to produce half of our electricity. Graetz describes more than forty years of energy policy incompetence—from the Nixon administration’s fumbled response to the OPEC oil embargo through the failure to develop alternative energy sources to the current political standoff over “cap and trade”—and argues that we must make better decisions for our energy future.
What G20 Leaders Must Do to Stabilise Our Economy and Fix the Financial System
Edited by Barry Eichengreen and Richard Baldwin
Summary via
In late 2008 the world was at a dangerous point. Governments and central banks had just about stopped the bleeding in their financial systems following the fall of Lehman Brothers, but they were unprepared for the recession that was to infect all parts of the global economy and become a truly global crisis. This book, first published as an eBook to coincide with the November 2008 G20 meeting in Washington, provides the views of some of the world’s leading economists on what world leaders needed to do – act quickly in: • The financial sector to strengthen and coordinate emergency measures to staunch the bleeding • The real sector using fiscal stimulus to get the patient’s heart pumping again • The global arena to empower the IMF and other existing institutions to deal with the crisis in emerging markets. Above all, though, the recommendation was to do no harm. The authors knew that the wrong outcome from this meeting could have damaged the world economy rather than repair it. Fortunately, much of their advice was heeded. And while events have moved on, policymakers and opinion formers today could still do with a refresher.
Financial Jiu-Jitsu: A Fighter’s Guide to Conquering Your Finances
By Scott Ford
Summary via publisher, John Wiley
In martial arts and personal finance, fundamentals are important. But while failing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may be disappointing, it’s nothing compared to failing to build wealth and creating a better future for your family. Nobody understands this better than Scott Ford, a top-ranked financial advisor and Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast. Now, in Financial Jiu-Jitsu, he shows you how to overcome your emotions and state of mind to excel at your investing endeavors. Along the way, Ford teaches you fundamental skills such as automating your savings and investments, the importance of paying yourself first, and managing credit wisely.
Super Boom: Why the Dow Jones Will Hit 38,820 and How You Can Profit From It
By Jeffrey Hirsch
Excerpt via publisher, John Wiley
Dow 38,820 by 2025 may seem incredible at this current juncture in our economic, political, and financial history, but as you will find out throughout these pages, it is mathematically reasonable and requires no big leap of faith. Moves of this magnitude have happened several times before at similar points in history with such regularity and clear causes that you will agree by the book’s end that the potential for another super boom is undeniable.