The book outlines an intriguing strategy though its fundamental assumptions require careful scrutiny.



Von Thiensen’s (Decoding the Hidden Market RhythmPart 1, 2014, etc.) second installment in his series on stock market cycles looks to the stars for guidance.

Believing, as some do, that the “financial markets are driven by emotions,” the author contends that if one can assess which emotions traders are collectively experiencing, one can predict (at least to some extent) and profit from the vagaries of the market. This is where heavenly bodies come in. Von Thiensen says, “There is growing evidence that the interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth are a factor that affects our well-being” and, by extension, our emotions. If the savvy investor is able to anticipate how these cycles will steer the emotions of other investors, they can potentially make a lot of money. By punching numbers into the author’s software (which uses built-in algorithms), the user can decode trading cycles and earn a decent profit, says Von Thiensen. He provides examples of his program’s success in an analysis from 2008 that shows that out of 22 trades, 17 led to gains. After all, “since financial markets are driven solely by emotions, it seems logical that this repetitive solar/lunar pattern must also be reflected in developments on the stock market.” It does seem like a logical enough assumption, but is it true? What of all of the other technical traders employing their own sophisticated, emotionless algorithms? Portions of the book engage in technical language (e.g. “we will use the wave to build a non-linear superposition wave based on the theory introduced on recurring energy patterns”); however, the content is still steered by astrology. The book certainly provides guidance for adventurous investors who are willing to put the author’s software to the test. Those readers already firm in their strategies seem unlikely, however, to convert to a computer model that is based on “how energy will influence the mood of investors.” As trading methods become ever more technologically sophisticated, banking on the mood of investors may seem like a risky proposition.

The book outlines an intriguing strategy though its fundamental assumptions require careful scrutiny.  

Pub Date: May 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4995-6259-0

Page Count: 238

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

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


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


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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