A provocative consideration for the thoughtful investor.


How to Make Money with Global Macro

A convention-busting reappraisal of global macroeconomics.

Macroeconomics, the study of economic systems involving large regions, is a forbidding field, generally dominated by academically esoteric analysis that’s often inaccessible to lay readers. On the other hand, popular treatments of the subject liberally dispense investment strategy without adequately explaining complex financial contexts. Debut author Gonzalez situates his own work in the space between those two options, furnishing a study that’s intellectually rigorous but ultimately practical. He begins with what he calls an “investing epistemology,” explaining the ways that macroeconomics falls short of being a full-fledged science. The unscientific character of the field, however, doesn’t foreclose the possibility of rational prediction, but according to the author, it requires a panoramic understanding of the history of macro markets. The book’s first section is largely structured around such history, providing an astute investigation of the 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, the 1985 Plaza Accord, the conclusion of the Cold War, the American elections of 1994, and a host of other significant events. The book’s second part focuses on other topics, although historical analysis still plays a major, even principal, role. Part of what makes macroeconomics such a challenging discipline is the vast array of pertinent factors that underlie change, including shifting political landscapes, climate change, institutional structures, and global disruptions, such as war. (In fact, one of the highlights of the book is its examination of the macroeconomic repercussions of several modern conflicts.) Although he’s heavily influenced by George Soros, Gonzalez’s perspective is his own, and he intrepidly opposes prevailing wisdom when evidence leads him to new conclusions. For example, he says that commodities and equities aren’t always given a boost by military conflict, and that growth, interest rates, and inflation sometimes move along contradictory currents. Sometimes, the author delivers his iconoclasm with real verve: “However, in financial macro the laws of supply and demand do not hold. Pardon me, you might say. Yes, they do not hold.” This is a well-researched study, brimming with helpfully illustrative graphs. Although the author doesn’t appear to be very interested in providing immediately actionable investment advice, his book is still a highly valuable guide.

A provocative consideration for the thoughtful investor.

Pub Date: July 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5175-7619-6

Page Count: 308

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2016

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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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.


A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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