We mix up logic with emotion, data with information, and information with wisdom. Steven Pinker’s new book, Rationality, is a step-by-step guide to unmixing these and using hard-headed logic to arrive at useful conclusions.
The greatest economic challenge of the second half of the 20th century was over how to fight the crippling inflation of the 1970s. It pitted the monetarist Milton Friedman against the Keynesian Paul Samuelson, and the debate between the two shaped economic thinking and policymaking to this day.
After tens of thousands of years of living at a subsistence level, how did the world suddenly become so rich?
Having suffered through the worst pandemic in a century, we are keenly attuned to catastrophe. Few people are better equipped to document the history of catastrophes and our response to them, for better or worse, than Niall Ferguson.
The saga of local public health officials tasked with fighting epidemic disease, and their clashes with national health authorities who didn’t care, was a perfect recipe for putting readers to sleep. But Michael Lewis made it into high drama.
What do financial folly and religious frenzy have in common?
Powerful demographic trends will cause higher inflation and interest rates, and a reduction in inequality as labor reclaims its bargaining power in the global economy.
In a fascinating little book, The Psychology of Money, the investment manager Morgan Housel provides more useful self-help advice than most authors who explicitly set out to do so.
Ever wonder why Americans enjoy a substantially higher standard of living than any other large country? According to Matt Ridley, it is because the liberal democracy we have nurtured over the last 250 years is the essential catalyst to foster innovation.
Americans enjoy the economic prosperity and freedoms of its liberal democracy. But our elevated stature is threatened. As the U.S. recoils from the world, the era of U.S. dominance might be ending.
President Trump, like many others along the political spectrum, has derided the persistent U.S. trade deficit – particularly with China – as a waste of capital leaving our country. The view that the U.S. would benefit by correcting this imbalance is taken up in a new book, with a message that should concern all financial market participants.
Dare to disagree with Paul Krugman? If you’re prominent enough to merit his attention, he will attack your ideas and worse, label you as evil. But behind his rhetoric is an economist who is often worth listening to.
Does market history offer any parallels to today’s novel coronavirus crisis?
The future of humanity offers continued and widespread betterment, punctuated by challenges that we have the riches and knowledge to address. Why do so many people fear it?
Navigating between the despotic extreme of authoritarianism and the unbridled liberty of anarchism is the challenge of society in its quest for good government. A new book looks at the choices facing policymakers to achieve the proper balance and to improve the prospects of those countries outside the “narrow corridor” of effective governance that lies between those extremes.
In his latest book, Malcolm Gladwell turns to a theme that matters greatly to financial advisors – preventing financial fraud and abuse. It is part of his broader inquiry into how we can avoid placing our trust in the wrong people.
Does a prosperous global society need access to energy supplies that grow faster than the population? Conventional wisdom says yes, but a new book tackles this question and reaches the surprising and optimistic conclusion that we can live better while consuming less energy and fewer material resources.
A well-schooled generalist will outshine a specialist at a cocktail party, with an ability to thoughtfully contribute to conversations on any topic. But does that skill translate to better problem solving in all disciplines? As advisors, we should be particularly interested in the answer as it pertains to the discipline of investing.
Is venture capital a good investment? For long periods in the past, the best VC firms had spectacular returns, as their outside investors or “limited partners” participated in the emergence of great companies such as Intel, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. But, going forward, can VC investors expect the same returns? Or are we in a new era of lower returns and a more challenging environment?
Why don’t we appreciate and celebrate big business more wholeheartedly? Why do so many of us regard it as unfair, monopolistic, manipulative, impersonal, and exploitative, to say nothing of inefficient? In Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero, the economist and free-range intellectual Tyler Cowen poses these questions and suggests a wide assortment of answers.
With The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty, Clay Christensen strays from his familiar turf of big-business strategy and seeks to save the world. His bottom-up philosophy and contrarianism are a sharp and welcome contrast to much of the prevailing wisdom on alleviating global poverty.
In Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government, a beautifully crafted autobiography, Pau Volcker recounts the many struggles involved in achieving his aims.
The chief goal of society should be to maximize wealth, according to Tyler Cowen. Pursuing that goal has delivered everything from nutritious and abundant food, to air conditioning and smartphones in the developed world, and those benefits are spreading rapidly to the developing world. The challenge is how societies can embrace and implement that goal. If those challenges are overcome, the benefits to globally diversified equity investors will be substantial.
I can guarantee a few things about Howard Marks’ new book, Mastering the Market Cycle. You will enjoy the thoughtful writing in clear language, and you will learn one great, and I believe correct, idea about the operation of markets.
Michael Lewis’ account of governance in the age of Donald Trump is frightening, inspiring, and surprisingly lively.
For the first time in at least 40 years, there’s a fundamental economic reason that a yield curve near-inversion might notherald a recession.
Byron Wien discusses what people don’t recognize about Donald Trump, the future of Italy and the E.U. and whether federal deficits will be inflationary.
Among the populist ideas that have gained currency are hostility to free trade, a sharp reduction in immigration, the redistribution of income, and nationalism bordering on jingoism. Dambisa Moyo doesn’t like it, and neither does Ian Bremmer.
The rise of populism has been fueled by rhetoric bemoaning the downward plight of the middle class, and that chorus has been joined by many from the left. But are we really worse off than we were a generation or a century ago? Not according to Steven Pinker, whose new book documents the dramatic improvement in lives across the globe.
Why do experts, CEOs, politicians, and other apparently highly capable people make such terrible decisions so often? Is because they’re ill-intentioned? Or because, despite appearances, they’re actually stupid? Nassim Nicholas Taleb, philosopher, businessman, perpetual troublemaker, and author of, among other works, the groundbreaking Fooled by Randomness, says it’s neither.
In this far-reaching interview, Jack Bogle comments on the future of index funds, argues that the value premium has been arbitraged away and attacks publicly-held mutual fund companies.
Technology is the driving force of our economy, and investors and their advisors would be wise to learn as much about it and its history as they can. Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman’s A Mind at Play opens a window into a crucial period in the creation of the Information Age in which we now live.
What do living organisms, cities and businesses have in common? They all have organic characteristics: they’re born, grow, sometimes shrink and usually die. They all require energy to maintain and grow, and they all must deal with the sometimes undesirable byproducts of their existence.
Has productivity growth slowed in the U.S. and around the world, as is the conventional wisdom? Or is that just an illusion, caused by the difficulty of measuring the quality improvements that constitute the bulk of productivity growth? In a provocative interview, Woody Brock puts his unique spin on questions like these.
According to Richard Bookstaber, a financial risk manager is like a fire marshal. The problem, in a nightclub fire, is that people can’t get out fast enough because the exits aren’t big enough; they don’t have the time to get out because the fire is spreading too quickly; and there are too many of them.
Is the market efficient? Of course not – not exactly, or not even close, depending on your point of view. However, the efficient market hypothesis has remained surprisingly resistant. The reason is that, as MIT professor Andrew W. Lo says repeatedly in his new book, Adaptive Markets, “it takes a theory to beat a theory.” And, up to this point, there has been no alternative theory.
Who is better at value investing: robots or people? How have robots – the quantitatively-driven passive funds that hold, for example, low price-to-book stocks – fared against actively managed value mutual funds?
Have we all gone lazy? Are Americans no longer the restless go-getters they once were? Has our culture changed in ways that impede economic progress instead of naturally promoting it? In his new book, The Complacent Class, Tyler Cowen, one of the most eclectic and inventive authors on economic issues, says yes to all of these questions.
A common lament during the presidential campaign was over middle-class income stagnation and the wealth of the top 1%. But are most people getting poorer while the rich get richer? In a sparkling – and delightfully short – new contribution to the econo-optimist genre, Johan Norberg, author of Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, emphatically answers “no.”
Who would guess that the modern sciences of behavioral economics and the psychology of decision-making owe their origin to a love affair (no, not sexual) between two men born early in the last century and so different that one could barely imagine them speaking to each other? Yet that is the story chronicled by the extraordinary nonfiction writer Michael Lewis in The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds, which, despite some quirks, is a compelling and worthwhile read.
What effect will the index fund revolution and the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule have on active managers? The data shows that active management is still a healthy business model. But industry consolidation is coming and advisors will need to change the way they construct portfolios.
Should history regard Greenspan as a “maestro” who managed the economy to new heights of prosperity or as a blunderer who let the housing crisis, and other simultaneous crises, unfold?