Book Bits For Saturday: 8.6.2011

The Era of Uncertainty: Global Investment Strategies for Inflation, Deflation, and the Middle Ground
By Francois Trahan and Katherine Krantz
Summary via publisher, Wiley
The recent credit crisis in the United States ushered in a new era of uncertainty. Like other bubbles, it was born out of an extended period of easy money that fueled prosperity and engendered speculation, but it was not the same as a euphoric run up and crash of technology stocks; it was an assault on two pillars holding up middle-class America: homes and credit. The remaining two pillars—employment income and investments—were collateral damage. People can no longer count on ample access to credit, increasing home values, and abundant job opportunities to propel them into a better lifestyle. In The Era of Uncertainty: Global Investment Strategies for Inflation, Deflation, and the Middle Ground, François Trahan, Vice Chairman and Chief Investment Strategist of Wolfe Trahan & Co, and Katherine Krantz, Managing Director and Founding Partner of Miracle Mile Advisors, LLC, present a new framework for investing in a dynamic, macro-driven world. The book addresses the creation and aftermath of bubbles from a top-down perspective and shows how applying the macro framework can help investors profit from the interwoven inflationary and deflationary scenarios likely to evolve in the next several years. It also examines the role of macro analysis in the markets: how top-down forces influence the direction of financial markets; how including macro analysis in research improves the odds of investment profits; and the potential pitfalls of ignoring macro trends in the investment process.

The Little Book of Trading: Trend Following Strategy for Big Winnings
By Michael W. Covel
Summary via publisher, Wiley
The last decade has left people terrified of even the safest investment opportunities. This fear is not helping would-be investors who could be making money if they had a solid plan. The Little Book of Trading teaches the average person rules and philosophies that winners use to beat the market, regardless of the financial climate. The market has always fluctuated, but savvy traders know how to make money in good times and bad. Drawing on author Michael Covel’s own trading experience, as well as insights from legendary traders, the book offers sound, practical advice in an easy to understand, readily digestible way.
Government versus Markets: The Changing Economic Role of the State
By Vito Tanzi
Summary via publisher, Cambridge University Press
Vito Tanzi offers a truly comprehensive treatment available of the economic role of the state in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries from a historical and world perspective. The book addresses the fundamental question of what governments should do, or have attempted to do, in economic activities in past and recent periods. It also speculates on what they are likely or may be forced to do in future years. Although other recent titles in economics deal with normative theories, public choice theories, welfare state analysis, social protection, and the like, no other book has the same breadth or depth specifically on the state’s viable economic role. The author occupies a unique position in global public finance, having served for nearly three decades as a leading fiscal administrator for the International Monetary Fund, financial adviser to 80 countries, and active economic theorist. The investigation assembles a large set of statistical information that should prove useful to policy-makers and scholars in the perennial discussion of government’s optimal economic roles. It will become an essential reference work on the analytical borders between the market and the state, and on what a reasonable “exit strategy” from the current fiscal crises should be.
Beyond Price: Value in Culture, Economics
Edited by: Michael Hutter and David Throsby
Review via Grantmakers In The Arts
Now comes Beyond Price: Value in Culture, Economics, and the Arts, a new volume edited by economists Michael Hutter and David Throsby, which makes significant contributions to the conversation on value in the arts. It speaks to practitioners and scholars (humanists and economists). Specifically, the book examines the nature of the twin concepts of cultural value and economic value; how they are formed; and how they do (or do not) relate to one another. This work is distinguished from other studies on the topic by its scope (it approaches value in the arts from diverse theoretical and historical perspectives and across a range of artistic disciplines); its commitment to moving beyond the rigid disciplinary confines within which scholars often work; and its encouragement of interdisciplinary communication and dialogue.
Chipping Away at Public Debt: Sources of Failure and Keys to Success in Fiscal Adjustment
Edited by Paolo Mauro
Review via IMF
Until recently, developments in public debt and deficits were seldom the stuff of high drama in the world’s advanced economies. However, things have changed dramatically in the aftermath of the “Great Recession” of 2008–09. Public debt and deficits have skyrocketed. Intense negotiations between parties with different views on how to restore public finances to sustainability make front-page news in several of the largest countries on a daily basis. Investors’ concerns about fiscal sustainability in some advanced economies are reflected in major increases in funding costs. Thus, the design and implementation of credible fiscal adjustment plans in advanced economies is critical now and will remain so for many years to come. Although the fiscal challenges facing policymakers today are greater than in the past, there is much to be learned from previous experience with large fiscal adjustment plans, including both those that achieved their objectives and those that ended up wide of the mark. This motivates a new book from the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD): Chipping Away at Public Debt—Sources of Failure and Keys to Success in Fiscal Adjustment, edited by Paolo Mauro, with a foreword by FAD’s Director, Carlo Cottarelli; published by Wiley; available in hardback and e-book.
Economics Evolving: A History of Economic Thought
By Agnar Sandmo
Review via The Enlightened Economist
I’ve just finished reading Economics Evolving: A history of economic thought by Agnar Sandmo, and commend it to every economist and student of economics. It’s a clear and fair account of the contribution to the subject by the key figures in its intellectual history, with a focus on Adam Smith and his immediate predecessors to the 1970s. The book would make an ideal text for a history of thought module in a degree course, but is also an accessible general read for an economist seeking some perspective on the state of economics today. I particularly appreciated not being able to tell the author’s own opinions; the book simply gives a straightforward account of both sides of the various controversies… Anyway, Economics Evolving is a highly commended book, which completely defied my initial impression that it was going to be worthy but dull. Heilbronner’s The Worldly Philosophers is still a terrific introductory read but is nothing like as substantial as this book, which is the best overview I’ve come across of the history of thought in economics.