For those inclined to hide their savings in the mattress, this book may provide all the justification needed.

AFTERMATH

SEVEN SECRETS OF WEALTH PRESERVATION IN THE COMING CHAOS

Economic analyst Rickards (The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites' Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis, 2016, etc.) prophesies scary times to come as the economic crisis of 2007-2008 grinds on.

“This coming crisis is as predictable as spring rain.” So writes the author of the enervating effects of economic policies that remain in place despite the damage they have wrought. For instance, he argues, the net effect of low interest rates as a means to stir up action in the economy was “the housing bubble and subprime mortgage crisis that exploded in 2007.” The next two years saw the near destruction of the international monetary system and the need to bail banks out worldwide—and according to Rickards, things haven’t gotten much better. The weak links in the chain are many, including likely debt crises in emerging markets such as Turkey and Indonesia, to say nothing of money market funds that seem to exist in order to finance the banks, not reward investors, and use strategies made all the more vulnerable by reliance on algorithms and “robo-advisers.” The author advises numerous ways to harden one’s finances against what he sees as the inevitable apocalypse lurking in plain view: He extends the usual advice to diversify, for example, by urging that readers invest in “cash, gold, and alternatives” and otherwise allocate investments in a “barbell portfolio” that consists of equal parts inflation protection (in gold and other hard assets) and deflation protection (in Treasury notes and the like), all balanced by cash. His views are a touch alarmist, but those who remember the events of a dozen years ago will likely form a persuadable audience. In any event, his advice seems largely sound and well defended, especially his exhortations to be wary of passive investments and asset-draining managers.

For those inclined to hide their savings in the mattress, this book may provide all the justification needed.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1695-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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