A satisfying combination of serious gusto and sharp thinking.

STREET SMARTS

ADVENTURES ON THE ROAD AND IN THE MARKETS

International investor and worldwide roamer Rogers (A Gift to My Children: A Father's Lessons for Life and Investing, 2009, etc.) recounts his vibrant life and provides significant insight into the financial system.

The author begins with his first significant voyage: from the Alabama Canebrake to Yale University and on to Oxford’s Balliol College, cutting a voracious intellectual swath. This leads to his first piece of advice on financial issues: At a lecture in 2010, “I explained how the study of philosophy and history were indispensable to me as an investor….It taught me to think around corners, to see what is missing…and in doing so it teaches you to doubt.” Rogers’ personal life gives considerable warmth to the story, but he is never far from investing. He explains how Wall Street requires judgment, research, curiosity and skepticism; emphasizes the importance of international investing; describes the rise of hedge funds; and examines why American universities are in precarious financial shape. Rogers started the Quantum Fund with George Soros, worked like a dog and retired when he was 37. He was disenchanted with Quantum and ready to ride his motorcycle around the world. There are numerous digressions in the narrative—boat racing at Oxford, hosting Mardi Gras parties at his New York City home, why tenure is a disaster—and an energetic survey of America on the brink, awash with overwhelming debt and no savings to fight it, the government continuing to buy “bonds on what have already proved to be losing ventures run by mediocre people.” He satisfyingly rips into Alan Greenspan, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner, and he offers advice on commodities and currency investing overseas. The author now lives with his family in Singapore, and he includes a sensitive portrait of that city.

A satisfying combination of serious gusto and sharp thinking.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-98607-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crown Business

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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