Monthly Archives: July 2011

Why Going Against the Grain Pays.

There are only two rules every investor needs to know:

1.) The market is always efficient.

2.) The “street” and the “market” are two separate and very different things.

This book is a wonderful recounting of the follies of the street. They did not start yesterday, they will not end tomorrow and no legislation from the Ten Commandments to the Security and Exchange act of 201? will ever be enough to protect you from them.

Common sense goes 99% of the distance as a good advisor allowing prudent investors to protect themselves from the fads and follies of the investment markets and become what the authors call “private” investors rather than being taken in by the public spectacle. The book was written before the current financial debacle but its history lessons are timeless and its program will be sound for a long time to come.

 

Mobs, messiahs, and markets : surviving the public spectacle in finance and politics Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, c 2007      William Bonner and Lila Rajiva Finance  Corrupt practices Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. viii, 424 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 391-412) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Bestselling author Bill Bonner has long been a maverick observer of the financial and political world, sharpening his sardonic wit, in particular, on the vagaries of the investing public. Market booms and busts, tulip manias and dotcom bubbles, venture capitalists and vulture funds, he lets you know, are best explained not by dry statistics and obscure theories but by the metaphors and analogies of literature.

Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets uses literary economics to offer broader insights into mass behavior and its devastating effects on society. Why is it, they ask, that perfectly sane and responsible individuals can get together, and by some bizarre alchemy turn into an irrational mob? What makes them trust charlatans and demagogues who manipulate their worst instincts? Why do they abandon good sense, good behavior and good taste when an empty slogan is waved in front of them. Why is the road to hell paved with so many sterling intentions? Why is there a fool on every corner and a knave in every public office?

In attempting an answer, the authors weave a light-hearted journey through history, politics and finance to show group think at work in an improbable array of instances, from medieval crusades to the architectural follies of hedge-fund managers. Their journey takes them ultimately to the desk of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank and to a cautionary tale of the current bubble economy. They warn that the gush of credit let loose by Alan Greenspan and multiplied by the sophisticated number games of Wall Street whizzes is fraught with perils for the unwary.

Boom without end, pronounces The Street. But Bonner and Rajiva are more cynical. When the higher math and the greater greed come together, watch out below!

Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets ends by giving concrete advice on how readers can avoid what the authors call the ‘public spectacle’ of modern finance, and become, instead, ‘private’ investors – knowing their own mind and following their own intuitions. The authors have no gimmicks to offer here – but instead give a better understanding of the dynamics of market behavior, allowing prudent investors to protect themselves from the fads and follies of the investment markets.

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Little did they realize that all of their good efforts would be undone by the British election of a Labour government in 1946.

Counterfeiter : how a Norwegian Jew survived the Holocaust Oxford ; New York : Osprey Pub., 2008      Moritz Nachtstern & Ragnar Arntzen ; translation by Margrit Rosenberg Stenge ; foreword by Sidsel Nachtstern Operation Bernhard, Germany, 1940-1945 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 288 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In 1940, the Nazis set a secret project in motion, Operation Bernhard. Chosen from the rows of men on their way to the gas chambers were typographers and printers. The 142 men selected were transferred to the strictly isolated block 19 in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The prisoners were presented with an enormous task: producing counterfeit British bank notes to the value of hundreds of millions of pounds.

The notes, considered some of the most perfect counterfeits ever produced, were to be dropped from planes over London, with the aim of destabilising the British economy. One of the typographers was a young Jewish boy from Oslo, Moritz Nachtstern. Here he shares his shocking tale, from his arrest in Oslo, the journey to Germany, the horrors of the camp, to the impossibility of the operation: they had to produce exquisite forgeries, but as slowly as they could, to frustrate Nazi plans and to maintain their own safety.

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The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind, A savageness in unreclaimed blood.

Come on shore and we will kill and eat you all : a New Zealand story New York : Bloomsbury USA, 2008 Christina Thompson Maori (New Zealand people)  First contact with Europeans Hardcover. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. xiv, 270 p. maps ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [261]-270). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

An extraordinary love story between a Maori man and an American woman, that inspires a graceful, revelatory search for understanding about the centuries-old collision of two wildly different cultures.

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is the story of the cultural collision between Westerners and the Maoris of New Zealand, told partly as a history of the complex and bloody period of contact between Europeans and the Maoris in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and partly as the story of Christina Thompson’s marriage to a Maori man.

As an American graduate student studying literature in Australia, Thompson traveled on vacation to New Zealand, where she met a Maori known as “Seven.” Their relationship was one of opposites: he was a tradesman, she an intellectual; he came from a background of rural poverty, she from one of middle-class privilege; he was a “native,” she descended directly from “colonizers.” Nevertheless, they shared a similar sense of adventure and a willingness to depart from the customs of their families and forge a life together on their own.

In this extraordinary book, which grows out of decades of research, Thompson explores the meaning of cross-cultural contact and the fascinating history of Europeans in the South Pacific, beginning with Abel Tasman’s discovery of New Zealand in 1642 and James Cook’s famous circumnavigations of 1769–79.

Transporting us back and forth in time and around the world, from Australia to Hawaii to tribal New Zealand and finally to a house in New England that has ghosts of its own, Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All brings to life a lush variety of characters and settings. Yet at its core, it is the story of two people who, in making a life and a family together, bridge the gap between two worlds.

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If anybody ever saw a picture of a Patagonian toothfish they would never order Chilean Sea Bass again!

Hooked : pirates, poaching and the perfect fish Emmaus, Penn. : Rodale, 2006      G. Bruce Knecht Patagonian toothfish  Conservation  International cooperation  Case studies Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. vii, 278 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

This modern pirate yarn has all the makings of a great true adventure tale and is also an exploration of the ways our culinary tastes have all manner of unintended consequences for the world around us.

Hooked is a story about the poaching of the Patagonian toothfish (known to gourmands as Chilean Sea Bass) and is built around the pursuit of the illegal fishing vessel Viarsa by an Australian patrol boat, Southern Supporter, in one of the longest pursuits in maritime history.

Author G. Bruce Knecht chronicles how an obscure fish merchant in California “discovered” and renamed the fish, kicking off a worldwide craze for a fish no one had ever heard of – and everyone had to have. And with demand exploding, priates were only too happy to satisfy our taste for Chilean Sea Bass.

Knecht captivates readers by deftly shifting among the story’s nail-biting elements: The perilous chase at sea through frenzied winds, punishing waves, and an obstacle course of icebergs; the high-stakes environmental battle and courtroom drama; and the competitive battle among the world’s restaurants to serve the perfect, flaky, white-fleshed fish.

From the world’s most treacherous waters to its most fabulous kitchens, Hooked is at once a thrilling tale and a revelatory popular history that will appeal to a diverse group of readers. Think Kitchen Confidential meets The Hungry Ocean.

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A thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London – and a brilliant exploration of how Dr. John Snow’s solution revolutionized the way we think about disease, cities, science, and the modern world.

The ghost map : the story of London’s most terrifying epidemic and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world New York : Riverhead Books, 2006      Steven Johnson Cholera  England  London  History  19th century Hardcover. 299 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [285]-290) and index.   Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The Ghost Map is a riveting page-turner with a real-life historical hero that brilliantly illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of viruses, rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry. These are topics that have long obsessed Steven Johnson, and The Ghost Map is a true triumph of the kind of multidisciplinary thinking for which he’s become famous a book that presents both vivid history and a powerful and provocative explanation of what it means for the world we live in.

The Ghost Map takes place in the summer of 1854. A devastating cholera outbreak seizes London just as it is emerging as a modern city: more than 2 million people packed into a ten-mile circumference, a hub of travel and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually pushing the limits of infrastructure that’s outdated as soon as it’s updated. Dr. John Snow – whose ideas about contagion had been dismissed by the scientific community – is spurred to intense action when the people in his neighborhood begin dying. With enthralling suspense, Johnson chronicles Snow’s day-by-day efforts, as he risks his own life to prove how the epidemic is being spread.

When he creates the map that traces the pattern of outbreak back to its source, Dr. Snow didn’t just solve the most pressing medical riddle of his time. He ultimately established a precedent for the way modern city -dwellers, city planners, physicians, and public officials think about the spread of disease and the development of the modern urban environment. The Ghost Map is an endlessly compelling and utterly gripping account of that London summer of 1854, from the microbial level to the macrourban – theory level – including, most important, the human level.

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