Best books of 2016 – These are some of the most popular choices in the annual survey of book recommendations compiled by Bloomberg.

Best Books
Best Books – Photo by jill111 (Pixabay)

John Bogle – Founder, the Vanguard Group

Other People’s Money: The Real Business of Finance by John Kay

The finance sector of Western economies is too large and attracts too many of the smartest college graduates. Financialization over the past three decades has created a structure that lacks resilience and supports absurd volumes of trading. The finance sector devotes too little attention to the search for new investment opportunities and the stewardship of existing ones, and far too much to secondary-market dealing in existing assets. Regulation has contributed more to the problems than the solutions.

Why? What is finance for? John Kay, with wide practical and academic experience in the world of finance, understands the operation of the financial sector better than most. He believes in good banks and effective asset managers, but good banks and effective asset managers are not what he sees.

In a dazzling and revelatory tour of the financial world as it has emerged from the wreckage of the 2008 crisis, Kay does not flinch in his criticism: we do need some of the things that Citigroup and Goldman Sachs do, but we do not need Citigroup and Goldman to do them. And many of the things done by Citigroup and Goldman do not need to be done at all. The finance sector needs to be reminded of its primary purpose: to manage other people s money for the benefit of businesses and households. It is an aberration when the some of the finest mathematical and scientific minds are tasked with devising algorithms for the sole purpose of exploiting the weakness of other algorithms for computerized trading in securities. To travel further down that road leads to ruin.

Best Books Of 2016: Mohamed El-Erian – Chief economic adviser, Allianz

Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business by Rana Foroohar

Eight years on from the biggest market meltdown since the Great Depression, the key lessons of the crisis of 2008 still remain unlearned—and our financial system is just as vulnerable as ever. Many of us know that our government failed to fix the banking system after the subprime mortgage crisis. But what few of us realize is how the misguided financial practices and philosophies that nearly toppled the global financial system have come to infiltrate ALL American businesses,  putting us on a collision course for another cataclysmic meltdown.

Drawing on in-depth reporting and exclusive interviews at the highest rungs of Wall Street and Washington, Time assistant managing editor and economic columnist Rana Foroohar shows how the “financialization of America” – the trend by which finance and its way of thinking have come to reign supreme – is perpetuating Wall Street’s reign over Main Street, widening the gap between rich and poor, and threatening the future of the American Dream.
Policy makers get caught up in the details of regulating “Too Big To Fail” banks, but the problems in our market system go much broader and deeper than that. Consider that:

  • Thanks to 40 years of policy changes and bad decisions, only about 15 % of all the money in our market system actually ends up in the real economy – the rest stays within the closed loop of finance itself.
  • The financial sector takes a quarter of all corporate profits in this country while creating only 4 % of American jobs.
  • The tax code continues to favor debt over equity, making it easier for companies to hoard cash overseas rather than reinvest it on our shores.
  • Our biggest and most profitable corporations are investing more money in stock buybacks than in research and innovation.
  • And, still, the majority of the financial regulations promised after the 2008 meltdown have yet come to pass, thanks to cozy relationship between our lawmakers and the country’s wealthiest financiers.

Exploring these forces, which have have led American businesses to favor balancing-sheet engineering over the actual kind and the pursuit of short-term corporate profits over job creation, Foroohar shows how financialization has so gravely harmed our society, and why reversing this trend is of grave importance to us all. Through colorful stories of both “Takers” and “Makers,” she’ll reveal how we change the system for a better and more sustainable shared economic future.

  • Inc.com – The 7 Books That Explain 2016
  • Financial Times/McKinsey – Shortlisted for the Business Book of the Year Award 2016
  • 800 CEO Read – Longlisted for Business Book of the Year Award 2016
  • Financial Times – Best Books of 2016: Economics
  • The Atlantic – Best Business Books for Summer 2016
  • Success.com – #16 on list of 41 Books to Motivate You to Be Your Best Self

The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan by Sebastian Mallaby

Sebastian Mallaby’s magisterial biography of Alan Greenspan, the product of over five years of research based on untrammeled access to his subject and his closest professional and personal intimates, brings into vivid focus the mysterious point where the government and the economy meet. To understand Greenspan’s story is to see the economic and political landscape of the last 30 years–and the presidency from Reagan to George W. Bush–in a whole new light. As the most influential economic statesman of his age, Greenspan spent a lifetime grappling with a momentous shift: the transformation of finance from the fixed and regulated system of the post-war era to the free-for-all of the past quarter century. The story of Greenspan is also the story of the making of modern finance, for good and for ill.

Greenspan’s life is a quintessential American success story: raised by a single mother in the Jewish émigré community of Washington Heights, he was a math prodigy who found a niche as a stats-crunching consultant. A master at explaining the economic weather to captains of industry, he translated that skill into advising Richard Nixon in his 1968 campaign. This led to a perch on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and then to a dazzling array of business and government roles, from which the path to the Fed was relatively clear. A fire-breathing libertarian and disciple of Ayn Rand in his youth who once called the Fed’s creation a historic mistake, Mallaby shows how Greenspan reinvented himself as a pragmatist once in power. In his analysis, and in his core mission of keeping inflation in check, he was a maestro indeed, and hailed as such. At his retirement in 2006, he was lauded as the age’s necessary man, the veritable God in the machine, the global economy’s avatar. His memoirs sold for record sums to publishers around the world.

But then came 2008. Mallaby’s story lands with both feet on the great crash which did so much to damage Alan Greenspan’s reputation. Mallaby argues that the conventional wisdom is off base: Greenspan wasn’t a naïve ideologue who believed greater regulation was unnecessary. He had pressed for greater regulation of some key areas of finance over the years, and had gotten nowhere. To argue that he didn’t know the risks

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