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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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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Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.


Everyone’s favorite avuncular socialist sends up a rousing call to remake the American way of doing business.

“In the twenty-first century we can end the vicious dog-eat-dog economy in which the vast majority struggle to survive,” writes Sanders, “while a handful of billionaires have more wealth than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes.” With that statement, the author updates an argument as old as Marx and Proudhon. In a nice play on words, he condemns “the uber-capitalist system under which we live,” showing how it benefits only the slimmest slice of the few while imposing undue burdens on everyone else. Along the way, Sanders notes that resentment over this inequality was powerful fuel for the disastrous Trump administration, since the Democratic Party thoughtlessly largely abandoned underprivileged voters in favor of “wealthy campaign contributors and the ‘beautiful people.’ ” The author looks squarely at Jeff Bezos, whose company “paid nothing in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018.” Indeed, writes Sanders, “Bezos is the embodiment of the extreme corporate greed that shapes our times.” Aside from a few passages putting a face to avarice, Sanders lays forth a well-reasoned platform of programs to retool the American economy for greater equity, including investment in education and taking seriously a progressive (in all senses) corporate and personal taxation system to make the rich pay their fair share. In the end, he urges, “We must stop being afraid to call out capitalism and demand fundamental change to a corrupt and rigged system.” One wonders if this firebrand of a manifesto is the opening gambit in still another Sanders run for the presidency. If it is, well, the plutocrats might want to take cover for the duration.

Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593238714

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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