Some of the best books written on human behavior and finance
The economy is in a precarious situation right now, as you are no doubt well aware, stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic. Early March the stock market met with some unprecedented hits, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid to consecutive record percentage drops on the 9th, 12th, and 16th. Now, with many businesses remaining closed, or struggling to re-open, most consumers still forced to stay at home, with people living in near-panic, due to a well founded fear of infection, and many Americans are struggling to stay financially afloat.
At the very least throughout all of this, we have found more time to read books, and luckily, there are a few experts who have taken the time to write valuable and approachable texts on issues facing our convoluted global economic system. Here are five books that are worth turning to in these troubling times. While they might not be able to help us magically regain the stock market losses we’ve accumulated over the past few months, they can still give us some solace and understanding, with perspectives that could prevent something like this happening again. Perhaps even reveal ways to prosper in the coming phase II, Depression, Recession or Recovery.
Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, Seventh Edition
By Robert Z Aliber and Charles P Kindleberger
Originally published in 1978, “Manias, Panics, and Crashes” has evolved a lot over the years. This most recent seventh edition has aged well with experience, witnessing and learning from some of the most significant stock market events to take place over the past forty years. Economist Robert Z Aliber, originally working with the late Charles P Kindleberger, takes a wholistic view of financial crashes, seeing them as predictable events in an unstable system. Bookshop calls the edition “an investment classic has been thoroughly revised and expanded following the latest crises to hit international markets”
Connectedness and Contagion: Protecting the Financial System from Panics
By Hal S Scott
In a move that seems almost prophetic given today’s situation, this 2016 book likens the financial system to a contagious disease. Partially a criticism of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, “Connectedness and Contagion” asserts that the government needs more control over Wall Street to limit creditors and prevent them from creating unethical, potentially dangerous situations. Harvard Law Professor Hal S Scott throughly researched this highly intellectual read, which Bookshop sums up as “an argument that contagion is the most significant risk facing the financial system and that Dodd¬Frank has reduced the government’s ability to respond effectively.” Sounds like prescience to us!
The Infinite Game
By Simon Sinek
A more contemporary title, “The Infinite Game” was published in October 2019, and it likens global economics to an elaborate game with ever-changing players, fluid rules, and no predetermined endpoint or objective. Motivational speaker and writer Simon Sinek offers readers ideas on how to navigate such a game, for doing so certainly breaks from conventional goal-oriented mindsets. According to Sinek, the required cognitive state for “winning” involves remaining focused, but also adaptable, to attain longterm achievements. Bookshop calls it “a bold framework for leadership in today’s ever-changing world,” and a useful text for situations far beyond the stock market.
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds
By Charles MacKay
Originally published in 1841 by Scottish poet Charles MacKay, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds” is a bona fide classic and a must on every economics zealot’s bookshelf. Although written at the height of Western modernity, MacKay’s book holds up to this day as a an early analysis of the intersections between economics and culture throughout history. Despite it sounding cliché, we can indeed learn lots about the present by looking to the past. Bookshop, selling a 2016 Createspace Independent Publishing Platform edition of the book, calls it “highly readable and accessible even today.”
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“Incerto” is not one book, but four— “Fooled By Randomness,” “The Black Swan,” “The Bed Of Procrustes” and “Antifragile.” All penned by statistics essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb and respectively published in 2001, 2007, 2010 and 2012, the “Incerto” series is all about risk, error, and probability in our difficult-to-predict world. Taleb takes both contemporary and past events into account, mulling over abstract human illusion and myths as well as down-to-earth psychological, technological, and economic occurrences. As a whole, the series sheds light on many things that seem to be anomalies in our modern lives. Bookshop— which is selling the series in one, extended-edition collection— calls “Incerto” “a landmark” and a helpful map for “decision-making in a world we don’t understand.”
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