A theological interpretation of ethical and effective finance.

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SMART MONEY WITH A PURPOSE

LIBERATING THE GOODNESS OF MONEY IN YOUR LIFE

A faith-based approach to responsible financial behavior.

In this debut personal finance book, Kesler draws on both his experience as a community bank executive and his role as a lay leader in Christian churches to offer readers a biblical perspective on earning, accumulating and using money. Kesler calls his framework “stewardship theology,” distinguishing it from the more well-known health and prosperity gospel. The book encourages readers to determine their strengths and their callings and understand that, while some people are called to lives of service, there is nothing wrong if the most effective way to serve both faith and humanity is by building wealth ethically, contributing to an improved standard of living and giving back to the community. The guide covers standard components of secular personal finance books, from creating a budget to understanding interest rates, but it also includes Bible verses that support the book’s interpretation of stewardship as a responsible financial practice. Kesler shares anecdotes from his own experience, from reconciling his work with his religious beliefs (“My banking career was not only salvaged, I was now convinced it was a sacred calling, even an act of loving my neighbor because of the good that occurs when resources are productively allocated”) to the techniques he and his wife use for managing family finances. While much of the advice is uncontroversial, statements like “There is in essence no difference between trying to hold down the grocery bill and the president of Boeing trying to locate a new production plant in a lower cost state or country” are unlikely to convince skeptics that stewardship can be reconciled with social justice. Although the book may not be persuasive to outsiders, it’s effectively pitched at its target audience of individuals looking to combine Christian faith with responsible personal finance, and the format, with discussion questions following each chapter, makes the book a good fit for church groups.

A theological interpretation of ethical and effective finance.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499162516

Page Count: 230

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2014

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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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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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