Solid advice for thoughtful investors.

JUGGLING WITH KNIVES

SMART INVESTING IN THE COMING AGE OF VOLATILITY

Investment guru Jubak (The Jubak Picks: 50 Stocks that Will Rebuild Your Wealth & Safeguard Your Future, 2008, etc.) analyzes the growing volatility of both the financial markets and everyday life (jobs, housing, an aging population, climate change, etc.) and offers strategies for profiting in a topsy-turvy world.

A former editor at Worth, the author now edits JubakPicks.com, where his portfolio has returned 445 percent since 1997. In this informative, often entertaining book, he details the many ways in which frequent zigzags since 2000 in the financial markets—especially abrupt changes of acceleration and direction—have combined with events in the housing, job, and retirements markets to increase our expectations about the degree of volatility in everyday life. Heightened volatility is now “embedded” in the stock market, writes Jubak. Furthermore, our aging world brings rising medical costs and requires more pension payments. China alone—“the world’s fastest-aging society,” with an inadequate pension system and underfunded health care—poses a global volatility risk. Drawing on his experiences of the last 20 years in the financial market, the research of behavioral economists and neuroscientists, and projections for the immediate future, Jubak describes ways to better understand the scope and direction of rapid changes in key areas and ways to “limit the downside damage and increase the upside potential from this volatility in our portfolios and our lives.” He stresses that by determining the distribution of volatility in a given market, it is possible to find a “haven of lower volatility.” Besides understanding the underlying forces at work, the author urges readers to resist the impulse to engage in the flight-or-fight response in reacting to dizzying changes. Whether discussing the effects of food and water shortages or the boom-and-bust real estate markets in such diverse enclaves as hipster Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and Boomer Sarasota (Florida), Jubak brightly illuminates the trends shaping our present era.

Solid advice for thoughtful investors.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61039-480-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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