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THE REVOLUTION THAT WASN'T

GAMESTOP, REDDIT, AND THE FLEECING OF SMALL INVESTORS

A welcome book that blends financial investigation with useful investment strategies.

There’s a sucker born every minute—and, as the recent GameStop bubble showed, there’s a Wall Street army waiting to take their money.

Financial journalist Jakab, a former stock analyst at Credit Suisse, turns received wisdom on its head. Where the recent GameStop run from nearly worthless paper to vastly inflated stock has been touted as a win for the little guy, the author considers the situation a model of stock market insiders knowing how to play whatever game is on the table. Those who bargained that GameStop was a sure thing didn’t understand the game of selling short, one that requires nerves of steel and, typically, deep pockets. “Wall Street likes volatility,” Jakab writes, again against received wisdom, “and it absolutely loves it when millions of new, inexperienced investors rush in with their savings.” Because those new investors trusted not the insiders but instead the knowledge of a crowd, they were ripe for the plucking, while big investors were also clamoring for a piece of the action. “Suddenly brokers like Robinhood suspended the ability to buy more of the stocks that were on everybody’s lips,” writes the author. “No such restrictions were placed on the fat cats, though. The game was rigged! But it always has been.” Jakab’s account of how Wall Street works requires financial common sense and some numeracy, though it’s quite accessible. He’s also a seasoned journalist who leavens money talk with human interest stories, including some that concern people who couldn’t really afford the loss but who lost on GameStop anyway. This is the valuable part of the book for would-be investors. The author writes that he “has warned against the dangers of free trading and free advice on the internet, both of which spurred mainly young people to be hyperactive trend chasers.” Good advice is available, but it costs—just as it costs time and money to be a conscious investor.

A welcome book that blends financial investigation with useful investment strategies.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42115-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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