A provocative and timely call for a new approach to understanding international affairs.

AN OVERTURE TO GEOFINANCE

GLOBAL FINANCE, GEOPOLITICS, AND THE WIELDING OF POWER: THEORY AND PRAXIS

A founder of a consulting firm argues for a new discipline called geofinance to meet the analytical demands of an ever changing world. 

Vander Straeten (Tail Risk Management, 2017) contends that neither geopolitics nor geoeconomics is currently adequate as explanatory paradigms. Given four major trends—the increasing financialization of the world market, globalization, liberalization, and the rising significance of international markets in the wake of deregulation—a wholly new approach is necessary, one that not only captures the ways in which political currents shape the world financial landscape, but also how monetary forces profoundly impact geopolitical affairs. The author begins the book in search of a precise definition of geofinance and auditions several different iterations, but this one comprehensively covers the criteria he seems to be after: “Geofinance traditionally studies the links between financial power and geographic space, and it examines strategic prescriptions based on the relative importance of the balance of power between financial markets and nations as well as, more generally speaking, the balance of power among government-sponsored and private organizations across world history.” Vander Straeten distinguishes geofinance from its existing disciplinary competitors, discusses its methodological approaches, and makes a vigorous argument not only for its value, but also for its indispensability. The author discusses the dynamic causality that characterizes the relation between finance and politics, focusing not only on state actors, but also subnational forces like markets, private companies, international institutions, and even financially influential individuals. Finally, he specifically assesses a series of real-world case studies and issues predictions regarding the world’s geofinancial outlook. Vander Straeten is the founder and head of Value4Risk Geofinancial Risk Consulting and has more than 25 years of risk management experience behind him, an accumulated expertise that shows in his self-assured command of the material. His prose is flawlessly clear despite the often technical nature of the subject. As a result, the book is accessible to a nonscholarly audience, though it’s primarily addressed to an academic one. In addition, the author artfully balances the theoretical and practical aspects of his disciplinary proposal, explaining the intellectual framework of geofinance as well as furnishing concrete examples of its applications. In fact, one of the most striking features of the study is the running critique of the social sciences. Vander Straeten is unsatisfied with the general acceptance of causal determinism, preferring the “indeterminate complexity” that biology and mathematics generally accept. But he’s still wary of mathematics as the underpinning of a comprehensive analytical methodology. (He parenthetically provides an astute account of the limitations of big data.) The author limns an analogy between geofinance and Darwinian evolution in terms of the adaptability, progress, and the competitive striving for power of financial and political actors. But that comparison turns out to be threadbare—he could have just as easily likened his approach to Thucydides’ study of war or Machiavelli’s investigation of principalities. Still, vander Straeten makes an attractive argument for a new theoretical framework that’s both more comprehensive and more common-sensically devoted to the unvarnished exploration of human behavior than most of the social sciences. 

A provocative and timely call for a new approach to understanding international affairs. 

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984393-17-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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