CategoryBooks

Americana: A 400 Year History of American Capitalism

Economic history books tend to be dry. Not so with Americana: A 400 Year History of American Capitalism. The author does a very good job of weaving threads of stories together to keep the narrative fast paced and interesting. The story spans from the Mayflower in the 1600s through the iPhone in 2007. I previously posted the Mayflower story, as I hadn’t before seen details on how the oft...

America Started with Capitalism

The story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower taught to every American child in every American school is less than half of the actual story. Obviously there are a lot of day to day details left out, but the most striking of the omissions is the fact that the endeavor was a for-profit business. The corporate side of this story is told in the first chapter of Americana: A 400-Year History of American...

Emergent Fraud

Halfway through reading The Big Short, I’m stuck wondering how after trillions of dollars of damage to the financial system, not only did no one go to jail, but no one was even brought in front of a jury. I think I figured out why. To explain, I have to go back to Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations. Smith’s core argument is that the amazingly efficient system later dubbed Capitalism...

Don’t Believe Every Economist

One of my hobbies is reading books on economics. (People do call me Luni after all). What I’ve learned from all this reading is that some economists can explain how an economy actually works, but have very odd, very wrong ideas on how should work. Case in point today is The Production of Money by Ann Pettifor. The book explains how central banks don’t actually print money, that...

Airships

Changing topics… ever wondered what happened to the airships of the 1930s? 90 years ago they seemed destined to be the cruise ships of the skies. That all ended with the Hindenburg fire. How about the Goodyear blimps of the 1970s and 80s? They seemed ubiquitous on big TV sports events. Then a lot less so today. This is where I could describe the technology adoption curve or the way new...

Eating Tomorrow

A few weeks ago there was a talk on Agroecology by Timothy A. Wise. That term is widely used outside the U.S. for what we’d call sustainable or restorative agriculture. That part of the talk was good, but far more interesting were the stories from the book which the talk summarized, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food. The author traveled the...

Boomerang, by Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis is the author of The Big Short and a rare storyteller who can convey complex economic topics as stories with interesting characters and plots. Boomerang tells stories in and around the financial meltdown (a.k.a. Panic) of 2008-2009, but for Americans these are mostly the far less discussed stories of Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and Germany. The fact that Iceland was able (within a...

Broken Bargain

American banks fail when unregulated, and they fail when improperly regulated. That is the one sentence summary of Broken Bargain by Kathleen Day, the latest book in my series trying to understand how the financial system is failing. My key learnings from his book are highly unlikely what the author intended. She’s a bit too anti-bank for my taste. We’d seem to agree on 99% of what is...

The Case for Socialism (or not)

With capital “S” Socialism in the political news, when The Case for Socialism appeared in the new book shelf at my local library, I thought it a good time to see if Alan Maass and Howard Zinn could help me better understand Capitalism and its flaws. Unfortunately, instead this book had me asking my wife (a professor of philosophy and teacher of logic and critical thinking) for the...

America’s Bank

Back to uncovering the history of the modern economy and understanding of how money truly works (see Lords of Finance, War and Gold, Capital in the 21st Century, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and The Wealth of Nations to get up speed) my latest read is America’s Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve. The title sounds a bit dry and the book delivers on that promise, but there...

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