All in Book Review

A Fighting Chance with Jr. Mining Shares

Parking shiny coins in a safe deposit box may not provide the excitement that FAANG investors are used to.  For those with a strong stomach speculating in junior mining shares provides maximum leverage to gold’s price--up and down. For the past decade, it’s been mostly down and painful.  

Navigating Booms and Busts

Boom times cause lenders to first make more and more speculative financing, and then graduate to Ponzi finance before it all comes crashing down.  The author quotes Minsky. “Over a protracted period of good times, capitalist economies tend to move from a financial structure dominated by hedge finance units to a structure in which there is a large weight of units engaged in speculative and Ponzi finance.”     

The Battle for Sound Money

Elvira’s gold buying makes me think she has read Saifedean Ammous’s “The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking.”  Don’t let the title fool you. This book is not the cover-to-cover crypto cheerleading/gold bashing other authors attempt to jam down our throats.  Dr. Ammous Is actually a Professor of Economics, and none other than “Black Swan” author Nassim Taleb wrote the introduction.


THE GAME OF BANK BARGAINS

“Fragile By Design” is a big book, and while it looks at banking systems in other countries, the authors devote many pages to the 2008 crash in the U.S.  But first, they make the important point that bank failure losses used to be borne by bank owners and depositors. Of course, now, with government overseeing the operation, costs have been shifted to taxpayers, in what the authors call “The Game of Bank Bargains.”   

The Value of Work

Gill’s book, “How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else”  is a love letter to Starbucks’ employees and customers in between ruminations about his childhood, career, and past mistakes that left him an unemployed, broke white man in his early 60’s.  

Trump's Gut Feeling

The fact is, our bodies react to news and risks quicker than our brains do. Conscious thought is left in the dust when we react and especially when we take risks. Of course neoclassical economists would poo-poo the notion of our bodies reacting to threats and risks, after all, we’re all rational beings, doing what’s rational at all times. Yeah, right.  

The Old Fashioned Fed Chair

Trump would like Volcker’s height, 6 foot 7 inches, as opposed to Janet Yellen, who was fired for her lack of it, at 5 foot 3 inches.  However, while Trump has his eye on the stock market, Volcker always kept his on the price of gold. The ex-Fed Chair mentions the yellow metal often in “Keeping at It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government.”   

Dicey Bloated Government

This time, Lewis manages to find diligent, creative federal government employees (he had two million to choose from) to tell the story of Trump’s transition, or lack thereof. The thesis is, we are all at risk due to the President’s neglect. Legions of earnest federal workers were ready to smoothly hand over the monstrosity that is the federal government, and, well, no one showed up.

The NFL: Land of the Caligulas

It is “the Membership,” who are the “puffed-up billionaires who own the store,” writes Leibovich.  “These are the freaks, the club that Trump couldn’t crack.” On the next page, the author refers to the Membership as “bespoke Caligulas.”  He goes on about how much TV time the owners receive as “presiding plutocrats.”

Tall Buildings, Mighty Crashes

Mark Thornton’s “The Skyscraper Curse: And How Austrian Economists Predicted Every Major Economic Crisis of the Last Century” couldn’t be more timely. As we slide from boom to bust, the thoughtful and curious will want answers.  Thornton has them.

Kirk Kerkorian: Misesian Entrepreneur

Kerkorian began his art early, by necessity. “When you’re a self-made man you start very early in life…,” Kerkorian said. “You get a drive that’s a little different, maybe a little stronger, than somebody who inherited.” Unlike a certain president of the United States we know. Rempel starts his first chapter with a quote from Mark Twain, “Necessity is the mother of taking chances.”

An Anointed Son, A Reporter Scorned

Dana Gentry’s “The Anointed Son: A True Story of Greed, Power and Blind Trust” is a book, not about low rates, but high ones. While the prime lending rate was 4 percent in 2003, Las Vegas real estate developers would borrow at rates of 12 percent up to 15 percent in pursuit of cashing in on the real estate boom.  

Socialist Chic

Rothbard’s reservation was, "There are increasing tendencies for the Panthers to abandon black nationalism almost completely for the Old Left virus of black-white Marxist working-class action." He wisely noted "an unfortunate eagerness to reach out and make alliances with white radicals,

The Kingdom of Tom Wolfe

After Wolfe’s passing, I read his last, “The Kingdom of Speech,” a book that was reportedly “not well received by critics.” Many of his books weren’t “well received” yet sold well enough for him to live in a 12-room apartment in New York.  

Think and Decide Like a Poker Player

Mr. Books the gunfighter was thinking the way poker players think: in bets. Former poker pro Annie Duke’s new book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts, makes us think of our decision making not in a 50/50 way, or a zero percent--100 percent way, but account for those unknowns or as Books said, have “that third eye.”

America's Fantasy

Kurt Andersen writes in his book “Fantasyland How America went haywire: A 500-year history,” the current president is “stupendous Exhibit A” in the landscape of “Fantasyland,” a fitting leader for a nation that has, over the centuries, nurtured a “promiscuous devotion to the untrue.” 

Thank the Fed for Workamping

Bruder’s book is chalk full of sad stories of layoffs, foreclosures, and lack of family support. At the same time, these nomads, workampers or rubber tramps, are a resilient bunch, who left behind the costs and responsibilities of real estate for “wheelestate” to survive their golden years.