Book review – Good economics for hard times

This is one of those books I am not going to indulge in giving away some parts or examples of the books greatness. So no subjects , conclusions of problems discussed in the book. Not doing it. Which makes this a bit hard. Here I go.

What I am saying is anyone with just a slight interest in the reasons for the current state of the world should absolutely read this book. Especially if you have some affinity with economics. But the good news is, it’s not about economics. It’s about assumptions , which we all know are…. , anyway these assumptions have been drafted into policy. And these policies have inflicted permanent damage and made the problems they were designed too solve much worse.

The book touches on most of the main problems of our time , and all is explained in a clear and very understandable way. Without cutting corners in it’s due diligence.

It’s pretty remarkable how long some of these assumptions on social structures, money, taxes , income , human values have come back over a long period of time. While most of these assumptions were proven to be wrong or have changed over time. Nevertheless most measures to counter the problems have been intensified because there is nog change in our assumptions. Which made the problems even worse , and a downward spiral. Nobody thought about checking if what we were doing was in fact pointless.

Maybe I am being a bit cryptic in my review of this book. But hopefully you get some direction on what the book is about.

And forget what I said about it being interesting for people which want to know about why we are in a world we are in. This book should be mandatory for everyone. It should be mandatory in all schools , universities what have you.

It teaches a very valuable lesson , a problem can never be solved with just one field of expertise, not even when it’s the dominant field. It’s very much a necessity to counter our current problems with multidisciplinair teams , creativity and looking at the problem from different perspectives.

We can only solve our problems together, no-one can do it alone.

Book review – More money than god

I read quite a bit again, which helps my brain a lot. And I have always found it relaxing. I mostly read biography’s , history and finance books. And the odd novel. And some tech books , which I won’t bore you with. I recently finished reading more money than god , by Sebastian Mallaby , a book combining history and finance in one go. Two of my favorite subjects. Plus it tells the stories of all the people involved , 3 boxes ticked.

It’s not a dry book with just names dates and numbers, it’s written with stories anecdotes and the numbers just fit in naturally. 

It’s about the history and evolving world of hedgefunds. For those who don’t know hedgefunds are private investment funds which in the classical term make bets on markets, and make use of diverse array of instruments in order to gain a edge in the market of choice. In the classical sense a hedge funds was always hedged against the risk they take. Neutral in a way, as far as their models go anyway. But that changed over time , and most just looked for edges in markets.

This book starts out with the first hedgefunds and goes until recent times just after the credit crunch in 2007/2008. What’s interesting it not just covered the most famous hedge funds and their bets like Soros versus the pound. But also lesser known stuff like the takeover of an Indonesian bank by a hedge fund.

Without giving away alle the stories the book tells the tales and sets out to give some insight in why hedgefunds are good for markets instead of the more common view that all hedgefunds are evil. It makes a good point. It’s also very dense and took me a while before finishing it. It’s a good for anyone interested in finance or the world of finance in general, the more numbers inclined among us will also be catered too and even the casual reader with more of a history interest will be having fun while reading it. 

It’s one of the best books on the history of hedgefunds in general and has a lot of interesting tales to tell. Make sure to put it on your reading list. 

Sunday reading – Moneyland

I have done some book reviews in the past and I am back with another one. Combining 2 of my favorite things economics and investigative journalism. In this excellent book by Oliver Bullough , Moneyland , the shady world of the ‘off-shore’ industry is the subject, it has created a whole new paralel world where extremely rich people can hide money, assets and change citizenship while they are at it.

It has been fueled by the collapse of the former colonies, and communism. What started with the increasing desire not too pay taxes has grown into a monster where oligarchs , dictators alongside global company’s hide their profits from country’s.

It’s painfully clear that the growing inequality , outdated concepts like nation states and their laws are outpaced by instant global money transfers, a willing and able army of lawyers, accountants and other experts ready too advise some very shady people hide everything.

It’s like trying too outrun a formula 1 car. It’s time for a global overall in the way we think and act on these sorts of fraud. Because it maybe not fraud if you look at the letter of the law , but’s it’s sailing true giant omissions in the different laws in different country’s at the least. And fraud and criminality at it’s worse.

All written in a sharp and understandable way, it’s a pageturner and one I highly recommend if you want too have some insight in how money moves around the globe.

Northern Monkeys by William Routledge

William Routledge has done an excellent job with his book Northern Monkeys. If your into music, fashion and the evolution of youth culture this is your book.

It’s about the different styles in music , fashion and trends that swept across Great Britain from the 60’s right up to the 90’s. And the underlining cement is the Football terrace. But it’s not a hooligan memoir. So everybody who’s expecting a season by season tail of violence better leave this book alone.

It’s way better than that. The story’s will ring a familiar bell with everyone who has lived in those days and discovering new music , cloths or went to their first rave or concert. Remember this was the pre internet era, when you someone had new music from let’s say New York or Belgium even , you couldn’t look the artist or label up and place an order in a web shop. If you were lucky, you got the phone number or location of the record store and you could travel there. If it was in a city nearby that is.

Or if you saw some new brand polo or jacket you had figure out where they got it. And most didn’t tell you when asked.

This discovery, search and excitement of the adventures surrounding all these encounters told by various people are a lot of fun to read. I have had the book for a while now but once I started I couldn’t put it done.

This is truly one of the best books on British youth cultures I have read so far. Hats off to William for making this book happen.

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Stalin the court of the red tsar

Well this was quite the read, this was one that was on the reading list for a long time. Finally I got round to reading this voluminous book about one of the most controversial figures in history. Stalin.

The book is focused on the time when Stalin was at the height of his power, so it’s not a full account of his life. It’s a bloody one for sure.

It tells a lot about all the people around him , his family and allies who by no exception all fell victim to the infamous terror, with the help of the people in his entourage who he gave a lot of power.

That power led to a lot of murders , even Stalin’s own family. What surprised me was the numbers of people who were killed and the damage it did not only to all the victims but to the country as well. When Hitler started operation Barbarossa the Red Army almost had no officers with any experience , they were all murdered.

To make matters worse a lot of very bad mistakes were made by the Politburo before the red army generals got a bit of authority back. By then off course Hitler overreached as well and the tide started to shift.

He controlled everyone around him by instilling the fear in people that by making just one slight mistake you could become an enemy of Stalin. The way he did this and kept control over such a large empire with no opposition is remarkable. It feels like he planned and orchestrated everything from start to finish.

It’s a bit of a hard read sometimes with all the different people but after a few chapters you’ll find it gets easier. A very solid book on Stalin. For people who like to read biography’s and are interested in Stalin or that part of history.

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McMafia

One thing I am planning to do more is reading, used to do that a lot, but over the past few years less and less. Which isn’t a good thing.

So I picked up a book I started reading a few years ago but never finished. McMafia by Misha Glenny.

McMafia

It covers the rapid rise of global crime after the fall of most of the communist regimes at the end of the eighties. The fast pace in which money started to move around the globe and the connections between the underworld and politicians , banks and other legal entities.

The book is very well written and travels the globe to tell the story from different continents. It’s fascinating in how little time the criminal organizations seized the opportunities presented to them. The outcome however are very sad, people who fall victim of human smugglers is among one of the most saddening.

One of the main sources of income is still the drug trade, money made from it is invested not only in the ‘upper world’ but also in the arms trade , human trafficking and so on. A lot of people are beginning to realize the start to stop a lot of drug related crime is legalizing.

Because the war on drugs cannot be won , whatever you do.
Recommended reading.