Solid economic reportage. Investors who remember the events of 30 years ago will blanch all over again, especially at the...

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A FIRST-CLASS CATASTROPHE

THE ROAD TO BLACK MONDAY, THE WORST DAY IN WALL STREET HISTORY

Financial journalist Henriques (The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, 2011, etc.) turns her gaze on the catastrophic Wall Street collapse of 1987, “the contagious crisis that the system nearly didn’t survive.”

The crash of 1929 was miserable, the dot-com bubble burst of 2000 inconvenient, and the financial collapse of 2008 frightening. All these pale, however, to the events of Oct. 19, 1987, Black Monday, a one-day decline of 22.6 percent. To reach the same level today, writes the author, the Dow Jones would have to fall by 5,000 points. As Henriques writes, it was a perfect storm of allied causes, all of them ones that would ring true to cautious investors today: the financial firms had become too big, certainly too big to fail, while computer-mediated trades and other flashy innovations placed the exchange beyond immediate human reach. As bad or worse, the same ideology, the same set of academic theories, was driving Wall Street, leading to a monoculture of investment that was ripe to fail from the start. The author, a longtime New York Times writer and winner of the George Polk Award, delivers an account that is not for the financially naïve or the innumerate; a typical passage reads, “unfortunately, there were CBOE limits on how many options any one investor could hold at one time, and LOR was already ‘insuring’ accounts too large to fit easily within those limits.” Those who can read past the financial wonkiness, though, will be well-served by Henriques’ insights into the ascent of the quants and the concentration of big capital into fewer and fewer hands—trends that, she notes, continue to accelerate as investment strategies become “even more obscure.”

Solid economic reportage. Investors who remember the events of 30 years ago will blanch all over again, especially at the author’s suggestion that worse may be yet to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-164-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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