The Abolition of Cash

AMERICA'S $660 BILLION BURDEN

A spirited argument to move beyond a cherished American institution, the physical dollar, into a digital payment future.

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An intriguing, balanced study of a future cashless society.

Warwick’s (Ending Cash: The Public Benefits of Federal Electronic Currency, 1998) book centers on the premise that a cashless society could significantly increase efficiency, cut costs, and reduce crime. Despite his belief that abolishing cash has “profound advantages,” Warwick is careful to balance his own bias against the reality that some consumers still love cash. His goal is not only to convince Americans of the benefits of cashlessness, but to prompt government officials to advocate replacement currencies in the form of digital funds. The author recognizes that such a sea change would require a considerable transformation; after all, he reports that cash “still accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s payment transactions.” But Warwick points to the wide acceptance of online payments, debit cards, prepaid cards, and EFT in general as harbingers of a cashless society. Perhaps most compelling are the astounding statistics Warwick cites in support of eliminating cash; for example, he writes, “some $40 billion in cash is stolen from businesses in the United States each year.” His calculations—which include such line items as “Cash Handling,” the “Underground Economy,” and cash-related crimes—suggest that the annual costs for using cash amount to $660 billion—$1.8 billion a day. To counterbalance his own argument, Warwick objectively addresses some of the real fears consumers have about online security and privacy as well as the stumbles of such digital currencies as Bitcoin. In fact, his discussion of Bitcoin’s deficiencies is among the more informed and revealing on the subject. Nevertheless, Warwick claims that “conditions in the United States, aside from public misperceptions about digital risks, are ripe for cashlessness.” While he admits “talk of abolition of cash is politically unwelcome,” Warwick passionately lobbies for its acceptance. With his book’s extensive documentation (over 550 footnotes), sharp presentation, and solid reasoning, readers might have a hard time disagreeing.

A spirited argument to move beyond a cherished American institution, the physical dollar, into a digital payment future.

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5147-0571-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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