Not exactly cheery, but definitely worth knowing. (Introduction by Paul A. Volcker)

ON MONEY AND MARKETS

A WALL STREET MEMOIR

A superior course in economics (with a glimpse of biography) from “Dr. Gloom,” the famous monetarist, financial forecaster, and bond guru who earned his sobriquet with his infallably honest, level, and sometimes unwelcome economic pronouncements.

Kaufman’s life began in a small town in Germany, continued as a young refugee of the Nazi regime and ends with this, the accumulation of a life’s study of the way money works. And reasonable and clear-headed it all is, too. Here’s how economies rise and fall: it all hinges on credit-risk evaluation (often improperly assayed or, in the midst of profit lust, not done at all). Hence, Mexico, Penn Central, the Savings and Loan debacle, and a host of other financial dark days. The more risk out there, the more instruments will be created to hedge against that risk, Kaufman maintains, and the more volatile markets become. That’s us. Now. The efficient and careful allocation of credit precludes disaster. Not too much debt; not too much regulation; not too much of much. What’s needed is a re-tooling of the IMF and the World Bank, and the creation of something Kaufman calls a “Board of Overseers of World Markets,” which would serve as a finger-shaker rather than a regulator. Decency has always been a hallmark of Kaufman’s and, thanks to it, he saved his (and the firm that bore his name’s) neck by withdrawing from a collaboration with the ill-fated Drexel Burnham (when he heard that Michael Milken was to be involved). The market isn’t human, he insists, and it doesn’t have human characteristics. “It is the sum total of thousands of largely uncoordinated decisions, many of which are based on little or no analysis.” Nothing in the recent economic climate has happened to improve his rainy mood. The apocalypse is nigh, so look out. “I am confident that sometime within the next few years, the financial euphoria will be reversed.”

Not exactly cheery, but definitely worth knowing. (Introduction by Paul A. Volcker)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-07-136049-2

Page Count: 388

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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