A concise, coherent overview of financial basics.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

HOW TO ACHIEVE PROSPERITY BY DOING THE THINGS THE RICH DO

A practical guide to building wealth and managing finances, aimed at beginning investors.

In this debut personal-finance guide, Lamb addresses a range of issues, from paying down credit-card debt to participating in the stock market. However, what sets this financial management book apart from others is the author’s own working-class history. He shares stories from his days as a truck driver and warehouse laborer and connects those experiences to his gradual financial education. He acknowledges the flaws of the current financial system, addressing such subjects as capital-gains taxes and the rise of income inequality. However, he drives home a message that even a person without economic advantages can create a financially secure future, through a combination of self-discipline, financial literacy and hard work. Much of the material here, such as a comparison of renting versus buying a house, will be familiar to many readers, but it’s primarily aimed at people who have scarcely begun to think about saving for retirement. As a result, the advice is tempered with a strong dose of practicality; for instance, the author explains that paying off credit card debt is the equivalent of earning guaranteed double-digit returns, but he also urges readers not to pay off debt at the expense of saving for retirement. He coherently explains the concept of emergency funds and the rationales for maintaining them (“So what if it takes a long time to reach your goal? As long as you are making forward progress…there is no set dollar figure you need to achieve in order to feel that you have ‘won’ the game”), as well as how to maximize employer contributions to a 401(k) and obtain necessary insurance. His story of how he learned about renter’s insurance will make many readers groan in sympathy and perhaps remember their own youthful mistakes. His advice on investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds is clearly meant for readers who already have some financial security, and it seems out of place next to sections about tracking spending and creating a basic budget. That said, it does offer a reasonable analysis of the market’s relationship to the small investor.

A concise, coherent overview of financial basics.

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4953-9265-8

Page Count: 152

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

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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