Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Gold Rush

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

James Ledbetter, author of One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries (Norton/Liveright; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample), spoke on NPR’s Fresh Air about the ways gold has been perceived through American history.

The discussion covers the history of money in the US and the many different currencies that were used in the early days, including those issued by states and banks issued and even from other countries. The conversation also covers the role of the Gold Rush in monetary policy, the creation of Fort Knox, and the period of time when citizens had to turn in their gold to the government. In more recent times, there was even a 20th century alchemy quest to create more gold, called Operation Goldfinger.

NPR’s Dave Davies, filling in for host Terry Gross, says the book further details how gold became “a symbol of permanence and quality and most of all a store of value.”

A Banking Book “To Save Us All”

Friday, May 6th, 2016

9780393247022_82724Skyrocketing up the Amazon charts to a high of #57 on the strength of a Michael Lewis review in Bloomberg View is The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy, Mervyn King (Norton).

King, a former governor of the Bank of England, offers a plan to create transparency and stability in high stakes banking, the kind that lead to the crash of 2008.

Lewis (Flash Boys) writes under the headline “The Book That Will Save Banking From Itself” says if King’s book “gets the attention it deserves, it might just save the world.”

King’s plan is to:

“Separate the boring bits of banking (providing a safe place to deposit money, facilitating payments) from the exciting ones (trading) … the riskier assets from which banks stand most to gain (and lose) would then be vetted by the central bank, in advance of any crisis, to determine what it would be willing to lend against them in a pinch if posted as collateral.”

This process would determine if a bank were solvent or not and prevent it from betting with taxpayer money rather than its own.

Showing strong circulation on low ordering at libraries we checked, The End of Alchemy has the potential to take off like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, (Harvard/Belknap Press, 3/12/14) as readers have proven their interest in serious books on very serious subjects.

Reading Lewis’s review offers a reminder of why his own nonfiction is so readable. He shares a telling anecdote about King, who was his professor at the London School of Economics:

“I’d been working at the London office of Salomon Brothers for maybe six months when one of my bosses came to me with a big eye roll and said, ‘We have this academic who wants to sit in with a salesman for a day: Can we stick him with you?’ And in walked Professor King … He took the seat next to me and the spare phone that allowed him to listen in on my sales calls. After an hour or so, he put down the phone. ‘So, Michael, how much are they paying you to do this?’ he asked, or something like it. When I told him, he said something like, ‘This really should be against the law.’”

Hot Econ Title

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

9780691147727_f2647The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon (Princeton University Press) is shaping up to be this year’s Capital in the 21st Century, anointed as such by both The New York Times Magazine and Fortune.

The book has become a prime topic of discussion among economists and business leaders. We reported earlier on Paul Krugman’s cover review for The New York Times Sunday Book Review, which helped push holds over orders in many libraries.

Krugman’s review came after several other notable attention. An earlier review in The Economist called the book “magnificent” and “brilliant.” The WSJ early review ended by proclaiming:

“Every presidential candidate should be asked what policies he or she would offer to increase the pace of U.S. productivity growth and to narrow the widening gap between winners and losers in the economy. Bob Gordon’s list is a good place to start.”

Several reviews, including the one in The Economist, also find fault with the book, not agreeing with Gordon’s asserting that IT revolution has played less of a role in re-shaping society than did indoor plumbing or the wide availability of cars.

More on this hot topic of a title can be found in Gordon’s 2013  TED Talk and a TED Talk debate, in which economists dug into Gordon’s arguments.

Holds Alert: Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

We’re feeling French this morning.

Capital in the 21st CA story in the NYT political blog, “The Upshot” reports the French, unlike Americans, have paid little attention to a new book by Paris School of Economics professor Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, (Harvard/Belknap Press, 3/12/14), a nearly 700-page tome modeled on Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.

Esquire magazine’s blog declares you must read Piketty’s book, “If you want to understand the world, if you want to comprehend the mechanics of the forces shaping our time, if you want to know the political choices we face,” (if you’re not ready for that commitment, you can, however, get the shorthand version from The Guardian).  Paul Krugman adds his kudos to the chorus of praise in the May 8th issue of the New York Review of Books.

The book debuted on the 4/13 NYT Hardcover list at #16, dropped off for a week and is now back at #15. There even seems to be a halo effect; Adam Smith’s 1776 precursor is now at at #19 on the Nonfiction Extended list, 238 years after its original publication.

Holds on Capital are astounding in several libraries we checked and it appears it is currently out of stock at wholesalers.

Thanks to Liam Hagerty of Westcheter P.L. [NY] for the tip. If your library is experiencing unexpected holds on any titles, please email us.