Tag: books

Book Review: Sons of Wichita

sons of wichitaThe Koch family has tried for decades to keep itself out of the spotlight while building the 2nd largest private company in America. However, as this biography explains, they haven’t done the best job of it. Daniel Schulman details the Koch brothers’ lifetime of conflict with business competitors, political opponents, their companies’ shareholders and employees, and each other. It feels a bit like if someone wrote a novelization one of those epic long-running soap opera TV shows, except this all actually happened.

Whether you take interest in the history, business, politics, or psychology and sociology of it, it is a fascinating story. Schulman does not make it clear how he feels about the Kochs or their politics. He simply writes the details and gives a fair assessment of the situations—and there are some bizarre and complex situations.

The Kochs are probably the most influential family in America that you don’t know anything about, so this thorough investigation of their businesses, family, charity work, and political action is well worth reading.

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Book Review: Lords of Finance

Lords of FinanceLords of Finance is described as the story of the four central bankers who set up the world for the Great Depression. However, the reader can expect to get a whole lot more than that from this book–whether he wants it or not.

It is mostly written in a biographical style, with more incidental details than necessary. The financial side of the story is explained, but not with as much depth or clarity as many other books of this type offer. Some general claims about the macroeconomy are made without enough explanation about macroeconomics to back them up. Continue reading “Book Review: Lords of Finance”

Book Review: University of Berkshire Hathaway

university of berkshire hathawayThe market is flooded with books about Warren Buffett. This is the 5th one that I have read. Some books assemble or quote Buffett’s writings; others reverse engineer Buffett’s investment strategy. Often these authors seem to be trying to convince you they have inside information or trying to indoctrinate you into the Buffett cult. University of Berkshire Hathaway is not one of those books. It has details you won’t find anywhere else, which makes it a relevant addition to the prolific repertoire of books about Buffett and Berkshire. Continue reading “Book Review: University of Berkshire Hathaway”

Book Review: Flash Boys

Flash Boys pbk mech.inddMichael Lewis is one of the great non-fiction authors of our time. He brilliantly tells tales involving highly technical details in ways that are entertaining and engaging, and–like any great artist–he makes the feat look easy. Lewis uses the colorful character and language of his subjects and weaves their personal stories into the greater picture.

The topic of Flash Boys is high-frequency trading (HFT). High-frequency traders utilize the fastest hardware, software, and internet connections–all carefully located–to engage in arbitrage schemes that suck billions of dollars from investors by beating their trades to the exchanges and raising the prices. What is most disturbing is how so many of the exchanges, banks, and brokers enable it, profit from it, or are complicit in it.

Flash Boys follows the men who exposed this dark underworld of Wall Street and set out to create their own alternative stock exchange that would play by its own rules, rules that are fair to investors. It also follows two other stories connected the HFT movement. This is a great story told by a great storyteller, and it is essential reading for anyone who desires a better understanding of how the world works.

Book Review: Business Adventures

Business AdventuresThis is a neat book of magazine-style business stories. There are 12 stories about 25-100 pages each. They don’t relate to each other at all, other than all being related to business, finance, and economics.

The stories are all interesting and well-written, so it is both entertaining and informative. This gave me some lesson ideas for my entrepreneurship class.

This is a great way to learn some new business content in a fun and engaging way.

Book Review: Stress Test

stress testTimothy Geithner was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003 to 2009 and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under from 2009 to 2013. Many people would have loved to be a fly on the wall in some of the meetings that Geithner was in during the financial crisis, the Great Recession, and the recovery. Geithner provides some insights, but he is also overly concerned with addressing his critics, especially those he calls “moral hazard fundamentalists.”

He makes some good analogies, although he repeats the same ones again and again, and I don’t think he addresses the fundamental problems that his critics are trying to get to. Sure, TARP assuaged the market by injecting capital into the struggling financial sector, and the taxpayers made a profit off the program in the end. Perhaps moral hazard arguments in reference to TARP are overblown. However, does this really settle the argument about whether or not the government should be bailing out companies? Should calming a volatile market really be the role of the federal government? Continue reading “Book Review: Stress Test”