An investor’s warning to be ready when oil and the dollar dance.

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THE THIRD OIL SHOCK

DÉCALCOMANIE OF OIL AND DOLLAR

A different way to look at the impact of oil prices—and what it might mean for the future.

The forces of supply and demand alone cannot explain oil prices, writes Oh. The value of the U.S. dollar and oil prices are linked, while history shows that geopolitics and oil are inseparable. A fund manager for a Korean asset management firm, Oh analyzes the enigma of oil from a financier’s perspective. The result is an alternative interpretation of the history of oil, particularly the oil price “shocks” of 1973 and ’79. The Oil-Dollar Composite Index, which accounts for changes in both oil prices and the dollar, is used as a tool for understanding the fallout from oil shocks. Oh makes a case for the ODCI, with easily digestible prose and helpful graphs. A thumbnail history of the oil industry and floating-exchange-rate system provides suitable background for the general reader, though the lack of footnote citations may frustrate some researchers. The author convincingly puts oil at the center of a power struggle among nations, from the dividing of the Turkish Petroleum Company after World War I to the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74. The author then turns toward economics. He argues the dollar has a “leveraging effect” on oil prices. If oil and the dollar move rapidly in the same direction, the impact is significant. The Latin American debt crisis of the ’70s and ’80s is used to demonstrate how a surging ODCI acts as a “misery index” for developing countries and a “happiness index” for developed nations. Conversely, the Soviet Union suffered as the world’s top oil producer when oil and the dollar plummeted in 1985. Like any investor, Oh is ultimately concerned with the future. He believes a third oil shock may be looming. Most ominously, oil-thirsty China could be the biggest loser. Given China’s role as the world’s second largest economy, it’s a hypothesis that gives pause. Oh presents his case in a logical, step-by-step manner, allowing the past to be his guide. Unlike many economics texts, the book’s message can be grasped by those with only a journeyman’s knowledge of the subject. It’s a risky business trying to predict the future of oil prices, but Oh bravely peers into the crystal ball and finds that history may repeat itself. Time will tell.

An investor’s warning to be ready when oil and the dollar dance.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479180158

Page Count: 170

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2013

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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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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