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Book Bits | 14 April 2018

Summary:
● Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? By Robert KuttnerSummary via publisher (W.W. Norton) One of our leading social critics recounts capitalism’s finest hour, and shows us how we might achieve it once again. In the past few decades, the wages of most workers have stagnated, even as productivity increased. Social supports have been cut, while corporations have achieved record profits. Downward mobility has produced political backlash. What is going on? Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? argues that neither trade nor immigration nor technological change is responsible for the harm to workers’ prospects. According to Robert Kuttner, global capitalism is to blame. By limiting workers’ rights, liberating bankers, allowing corporations to evade taxation, and preventing nations

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Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?
By Robert Kuttner
Summary via publisher (W.W. Norton)
One of our leading social critics recounts capitalism’s finest hour, and shows us how we might achieve it once again. In the past few decades, the wages of most workers have stagnated, even as productivity increased. Social supports have been cut, while corporations have achieved record profits. Downward mobility has produced political backlash. What is going on? Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? argues that neither trade nor immigration nor technological change is responsible for the harm to workers’ prospects. According to Robert Kuttner, global capitalism is to blame. By limiting workers’ rights, liberating bankers, allowing corporations to evade taxation, and preventing nations from assuring economic security, raw capitalism strikes at the very foundation of a healthy democracy.

Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution
By Priya Satia
Review via The New York Times
Adam Smith, in his classic “The Wealth of Nations,” was an early proponent of the now mainstream view that wars are unfortunate accidents that have “crowded out” more productive investments.
In “Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution,” the Stanford history professor Priya Satia aims to overturn this conventional wisdom about the role of guns specifically, and war and conquest more generally, in the world’s economic development.

The Trust Mandate: The behavioural science behind how asset managers REALLY win and keep clients
By Herman Brodie and Klaus Harnack
Summary via publisher (Harriman House)
This groundbreaking new book answers an essential question: why is it that a fund client selects, or an investment consultant recommends, one asset manager over another when the two are, on paper at least, very similar? Also, why is it that some asset managers maintain their mandates during difficult periods in the cycle and others don’t, even though their performances are identical? Authors Herman Brodie and Klaus Harnack investigated the drivers of these selection decisions and uncovered that so-called ‘soft’ factors play the primary role – even more so for consultants than for end-clients. They also discovered that these soft factors are essentially the means clients use to judge an asset manager’s benevolent intentions, one of the two dimensions of the universal human evaluation more commonly known as trust.

Retirement Fail:
The 9 Reasons People Flunk Post-Work Life and How to Ace Your Own

By Greg Sullivan
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Every day, people just like you, people who have worked hard and saved carefully for retirement, make decisions that will eventually crack their nest egg. Just because you added to your 401(k) or IRA plan every year, invested wisely, and amassed significant savings, you are not necessarily home free. Ready or not, your decisions all along the retirement path can positively or negatively affect your financial future. In Retirement Fail, top financial advisor Greg Sullivan shares the insights he has gained over his thirty-five-year career in wealth management to help you identify potential pitfalls and learn how to safeguard your hard-earned retirement assets. Because, contrary to what most people think, it is not poor portfolio performance that usually busts your retirement accounts. Rather, it’s the emotional decisions you make that can cause major problems.

Superbugs: An Arms Race against Bacteria
By William Hall, et al.
Summary via publisher (Harvard University Press)
Antibiotics are powerful drugs that can prevent and treat infections, but they are becoming less effective as a result of drug resistance. Resistance develops because the bacteria that antibiotics target can evolve ways to defend themselves against these drugs. When antibiotics fail, there is very little else to prevent an infection from spreading. Unnecessary use of antibiotics in both humans and animals accelerates the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, with potentially catastrophic personal and global consequences. Our best defenses against infectious disease could cease to work, surgical procedures would become deadly, and we might return to a world where even small cuts are life-threatening. The problem of drug resistance already kills over one million people across the world every year and has huge economic costs. Without action, this problem will become significantly worse.

Turbulent Empires: A History of Global Capitalism since 1945
By Mike Mason
Summary via publisher (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
As Europe rebuilt after the devastation of the Second World War, the former colonies of the major imperial powers sought their independence at the same time that the United States extended its economic and political power globally. In Turbulent Empires Mike Mason analyzes the struggles for post-colonial sovereignty and economic domination and how these competing forces led to conflicts and shifting alliances around the postwar world.

James Picerno
James Picerno is a financial journalist who has been writing about finance and investment theory for more than twenty years. He writes for trade magazines read by financial professionals and financial advisers. Over the years, he’s written for the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Bloomberg Markets, Mutual Funds, Modern Maturity, Investment Advisor, Reuters, and his popular finance blog, The CapitalSpectator.

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