Book Bits For Saturday: 6.4.2011

The New Gold Standard: Rediscovering the Power of Gold to Protect and Grow Wealth
By Paul Nathan
Summary via publisher, Wiley
All that glitters is gold and gold has never glittered so much as it has in the last decade, reaching staggering new prices in recent years. The definitive modern argument to returning to a gold standard, The New Gold Standard succinctly and clearly explains the nature of sound money, the causes and cures of inflation and deflation, the importance of fiscal responsibility within a sound monetary system, and the reasons for recessions and depressions. Little has been written beyond academic histories of the gold standard, but gold standard expert Paul Nathan fills that void for the first time. Written for beginning and professional investors, the book provides guidance on how a gold standard will strengthen the dollar, reduce debt, and help stabilize the economy, offering easily applied strategies for investing in gold now and in the future.

Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future
By Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron and Meera Balarajan
Review via The Enlightened Economist
An interesting-looking new book has arrived, Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future…. One of the ‘puzzles’ of economics is why, if free trade in goods and free movement of capital are seen as positive sum phenomena, the free movement of people should be seen as an exception. Yet ‘economic migration’ is increasingly seen as a problem, rather than an improvement. The book takes a very long perspective on migration, describing their recurrence since pre-history, and argues that the current wave of movement in this era of globalization is another of those periodic large scale population shifts. Its conclusion appears to be that this is clearly a Good Thing as the main engine of the circulation of ideas and technology. Moreover, the tide cannot be turned but should instead be managed within an international framework. It also looks at some of the problems arising from the current mish-mash of policies and the exploitation of vulnerable people, and also at the benefits of ‘brain circulation’.
The Vega Factor: Oil Volatility and the Next Global Crisis
By Kent Moors
Excerpt via publisher, Wiley
There is unprecedented volatility entering the oil market, transforming pricing and increasing instability. It will place a premium on setting prices via futures contracts without due regard for the actual market value of the underlying crude oil consignments. Increasing usage of synthetic derivatives will augment the problem in a manner reminiscent of the subprime mortgage disaster, but having an even more pronounced impact. Neither the way in which oil companies are structured or operate will temper this oncoming wave, while governmental action worldwide will only exacerbate the crisis. In short, there is a perfect storm developing in the energy sector
and it’s going to be a nasty one.
The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business
By Umair Haque
Review via Strategy+Business
The crash of 2008 shook many people’s confidence in the U.S. management paradigm, and perhaps in capitalism itself. With the search on for a new synthesis, we can expect a rich crop of management books with the word manifesto in their titles. One of the first, by Umair Haque, director of the London-based Havas Media Lab and head of strategy lab Bubblegeneration, is The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business, which combines a severe critique of traditional (or industrial) capitalism with an outline of a new “constructive” capitalism.
Global Financial Crisis
Edited by Paolo Savona, John J. Kirton, and Chiara Oldani
Summary via publisher, Ashgate
Out of the debate over the effectiveness of the policy responses to the 2008 global financial crisis as well as over the innovativeness of global governance comes this collection by leading academics and practitioners who explore the dynamics of economic crisis and impact. Edited by Paolo Savona, John J. Kirton, and Chiara Oldani Global Financial Crisis: Global Impact and Solutions examines the nature of the recent crisis, its consequences in major regions and countries, the innovations in the ideas, instruments and institutions that constitute national and regional policy responses, building on the G8’s response at its L’Aquila Summit. Experts from Africa, North America, Asia and Europe examine the implications of those responses for international cooperation, coordination and institutional change in global economic governance, and identify ways to reform and even replace the architecture created in the mid 20th century in order to meet the global challenges of the 21st.
Crises and Opportunities: The Shaping of Modern Finance
By Youssef Cassis
Summary via publisher, Oxford University Press
As the world’s political and economic leaders struggle with the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, this book asks the question: have financial crises presented opportunities to rebuild the financial system? Examining eight global financial crises since the late nineteenth century, this new historical study offers insights into how the financial landscape–banks, governance, regulation, international cooperation, and balance of power–has been (or failed to be) reshaped after a systemic shock. It includes careful consideration of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the only experience of comparable moment to the recession of the early twenty-first century, yet also marked in its differences. Taking into account not only the economic and business aspects of financial crises, but also their political and socio-cultural dimensions, the book highlights both their idiosyncrasies and common features, and assesses their impact in the broader context of long-term historical development.
The Economics of Financial Turbulence: Alternative Theories of Money and Finance
By Bill Lucarelli
Summary via publisher, Edward Elgar
This challenging book examines the origins and dynamics of financial–economic crises. Its wide theoretical scope incorporates the theories of Marx, Keynes and various other Post Keynesian scholars of endogenous money, and provides a grand synthesis of these theoretical lineages, as well as a powerful critique of prevailing neoclassical/monetarist theories of money.
Bill Lucarelli provides detailed historical analyses of the causes of the current international financial crisis, and offers alternative heterodox theories with more coherent and rigorous theoretical frameworks than existing economic orthodoxies. He illustrates that the very assumptions of neoclassical theory – informed by the efficient markets hypothesis – tend to rule out the very possibility of endogenous financial crises. Consequently, he argues, the endogenous causes of these crises are either ignored or simply treated as random, extraneous historical events. In stark contrast to these neoclassical/monetarist views, this book seeks to explain the recurrence of these financial crises as a result of the inner workings of the capitalist system.