Friday, September 28, 2012

2013 Book Club Titles for Consideration

2013 Book Club Titles for Consideration

A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity

A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy

Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change

Currency Wars

“Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements”

Fairness and Freedom

Finance and the Good Society – Shiller appeared on the recent short list for nobel

How Children Succeed

Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy

The Land of Promise

The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

Unchecked and Unbalanced –Kling will be honors speaker at MCCD – Phoenix College Feb. 20, 2013

Why Capitalism

Bill Boyes

I finished the Zingale book (A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity); second half was not as gooid as the first half. I have also just read a book that is perfect for our book club. It is called "Currency Wars" by James Rickards. Fantastic

Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy

Journalist Neuwirth points out that it accounts for a growing amount of trade, and that, united in a single nation, it would be the world’s second-largest economy, trailing only the United States in financial might. Stealth of Nations offers an inside look at the thriving world of unfettered trade and finds far more than a chaotic emporium of dubious pirated goods. (15 minute NPR overview of the book) The Land of Promise – Michael Lind

Lind follows Joseph Schumpeter in arguing that there have been three major technological transformations in U.S. history (p. 5). According to Lind each technological transformation has changed the republic itself. The initial American republic was preindustrial, but quickly gave way to the first industrial revolution founded on water and steam power, fueled by cotton production (pp. 81 - 186). The second industrial revolution ushered in the third American "republic" and was driven by the automobile, electricity and mass communication (pp. 187 - 392). The third industrial revolution occurred with the emergence of information technology (pp. 393ff), and seems to be ushering in a transformation toward a fourth republic.

The essence of Lind's book is that eras of technological change correspond to eras of political change with respect to regulations, laws and political institutions. However, whereas Schumpeter argued that technological change happens abruptly, Lind emphasizes changes in regulations, laws, and institutions do not!

A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy

Originating as a clandestine movement of ideas that was almost entirely hidden from public view during its earliest phase, the Radical Enlightenment matured in opposition to the moderate mainstream Enlightenment dominant in Europe and America in the eighteenth century. During the revolutionary decades of the 1770s, 1780s, and 1790s, the Radical Enlightenment burst into the open, only to provoke a long and bitter backlash. A Revolution of the Mind shows that this vigorous opposition was mainly due to the powerful impulses in society to defend the principles of monarchy, aristocracy, empire, and racial hierarchy--principles linked to the upholding of censorship, church authority, social inequality, racial segregation, religious discrimination, and far-reaching privilege for ruling groups.

In telling this fascinating history, A Revolution of the Mind reveals the surprising origin of our most cherished values--and helps explain why in certain circles they are frequently disapproved of and attacked even today.

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

In The Revenge of Geography, Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the near and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world’s hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. The Russian steppe’s pitiless climate and limited vegetation bred hard and cruel men bent on destruction, for example, while Nazi geopoliticians distorted geopolitics entirely, calculating that space on the globe used by the British Empire and the Soviet Union could be swallowed by a greater German homeland.

Kaplan then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia. Remarkably, the future can be understood in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties:

How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough traces the links between childhood stress and life success. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to help children growing up in poverty.

Early adversity, scientists have come to understand, can not only affect the conditions of children’s lives, it can alter the physical development of their brains as well. But now educators and doctors around the country are using that knowledge to develop innovative interventions that allow children to overcome the constraints of poverty. And with the help of these new strategies, as Tough’s extraordinary reporting makes clear, children who grow up in the most painful circumstances can go on to achieve amazing things. In Unchecked and Unbalanced, At the heart of Kling's argument is the growing discrepancy between two phenomena: knowledge is becoming more diffuse, while political power is becoming more concentrated.

Kling sees this knowledge/power discrepancy at the heart of the financial crisis of 2008. Kling warns that increased concentration of power is a problem, not a panacea, for our modern world and suggests reforms designed to curb the growth of government and allow citizens greater control over the allocation of public goods.

Fairness and Freedom compares the history of two open societies--New Zealand and the United States--with much in common. Both have democratic polities, mixed-enterprise economies, individuated societies, pluralist cultures, and a deep concern for human rights and the rule of law. But all of these elements take different forms, because constellations of value are far apart. The dream of living free is America's Polaris; fairness and natural justice are New Zealand's Southern Cross.

Fischer asks why these similar countries went different ways. Both were founded by English-speaking colonists, but at different times and with disparate purposes. They lived in the first and second British Empires, which operated in very different ways. Indians and Maori were important agents of change, but to different ends. On the American frontier and in New Zealand's Bush, material possibilities and moral choices were not the same. Fischer takes the same comparative approach to parallel processes of nation-building and immigration, women's rights and racial wrongs, reform causes and conservative responses, war-fighting and peace-making, and global engagement in our own time--with similar results.

On another level, this book expands Fischer's past work on liberty and freedom. It is the first book to be published on the history of fairness. And it also poses new questions in the old tradition of history and moral philosophy. Is it possible to be both fair and free? In a vast array of evidence, Fischer finds that the strengths of these great values are needed to correct their weaknesses. As many societies seek to become more open--never twice in the same way, an understanding of our differences is the only path to peace.

Technological changes are posing stark challenges to America's core values. Basic constitutional principles find themselves under stress from stunning advances that were unimaginable even a few decades ago, much less during the Founders' era. Policymakers and scholars must begin thinking about how constitutional principles are being tested by technological change and how to ensure that those principles can be preserved without hindering technological progress.

Constitution 3.0, a product of the Brookings Institution's landmark Future of the Constitution program, presents an invaluable roadmap for responding to the challenge of adapting our constitutional values to future technological developments. Renowned legal analysts Jeffrey Rosen and Benjamin Wittes asked a diverse group of leading scholars to imagine plausible technological developments in or near the year 2025 that would stress current constitutional law and to propose possible solutions. Some tackled issues certain to arise in the very near future, while others addressed more speculative or hypothetical questions. Some favor judicial responses to the scenarios they pose; others prefer legislative or regulatory responses.

Shiller is suggested as a possible Nobel Prize winner “for pioneering contributions to financial market volatility and the dynamics of asset prices”

Shiller is best known to the public as the author of the bestseller Irrational Exuberance (Princeton 2000) which presciently warned of a bubble in the stock market. He also warned of an impending bubble in real estate values in a paper in 2003 and in the second edition of Irrational Exuberance in 2005. He is also the co-inventor of the widely quoted Case-Shiller index tracking real estate prices. But it is not for these accurate market forecasts or for his index that he may be in the running for Nobel honors. Rather, it is for his many studies of volatility in asset prices. In particularly, his 1981 article in American Economic Review, “Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends,” is a classic and highly cited study that challenged the widely accepted Efficient Market Hypothesis. This paper has been cited more than 700 times, is Shiller’s most cited journal article, and is listed in a summary on what mattered most in economics since 1970 and as one of the 20 most influential articles ever published in the American Economic Review, a study authored by several past Nobel Prize (see: More recently, he published, with the 2001 Nobel Laureate George A. Akerlof, Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why it Matters for Global Capitalism (Princeton, 2009).

Why Capitalism

Disenchantment with the market economy has reached the point that many even question capitalism itself.

Allan H. Meltzer disagrees, passionately and persuasively. Drawing on deep expertise as a financial historian and authority on economic theory, he provides a resounding answer to the question, "why capitalism?" Only capitalism, he writes, maximizes both growth and individual freedom..

Vigorously argued, sweeping in scope, Why Capitalism? reminds us of the fundamental vitality of the one economic system that has survived every challenge, and risen to dominate the globe.

Paul Zak. Remember the name. No, you need not. His name will come back time and again. He is a shooting star in economics and neuroeconomics. Moral Molecule is a terrific book. Great science and great storytelling. In traditional economics, morality is an add-on. Something that must be constructed or realized through man-made rules and constitutional constraints on people's collective decision making, and for market-based decision making to work at all. Zak points to how such constraints might not have a prayer of making markets viable without the evolved chemistry of the brain that makes cooperation and trust self-rewarding.

JEL article

Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements? Samuel Bowles and Sandra Polania-Reyes

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