Good Reading -- October 2018
Memoirs, by David Rockefeller -- I thought I'd give this autobiography a try after liking "Titan," Chernow's biography of John D. Rockefeller, as much as any biography I've ever read. I bought this book last year after the author's passing, and despite a fascinating life well lived, I thought the book itself was a little flat.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report -- There is some risk of overdosing on all the retrospectives about the 10-year anniversary of the crisis, but this book is worth a mention. It is a very interesting reference even if you don't read it cover-to-cover. If nothing else I keep it on my bookshelf as a visual reminder of what is possible. A free pdf version is here.
Buffett only gets a passing mention in the final version but his full testimony (audio and written) is a masterclass on a range of subjects.
The Art of Choosing -- I heard a rousing endorsement of this book (although now I can't remember the source) that lead me to read it. I thought it had some interesting parts, but the title is somewhat misleading and description are somewhat misleading -- this is a discursive tour of several partially related topics, mostly centered on agency and free will.
A Template for Understanding Big Debt Crises -- This is a free e-book published by Bridgewater's Ray Dalio. I only read a hundred pages or so, but there is a lot of interesting history here to go along with Dalio's framework. A good summary by the author is here.
Principles: Life and Work -- This is Dalio's "main" book which he released about a year ago, based on a popular pdf collection of essays he had compiled over the the years. I read most of the original essays and some of this book, and there are some useful thoughts here regardless of your profession or background.
Facts and Figures
215 million new high-speed internet users in India have signed up since one company's service launched two years ago. Millions of them got 4G access before indoor plumbing or electricity.
There are approximately 285 million total people with internet access in America. India's 390 million total internet-using population is a penetration rate of 28% compared to 53% in China and 88% in America. (Source)
The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground -- This oped by Bethany McLean highlights her new book about fracking, Saudi America, which I'm looking forward to reading this fall. As she notes elsewhere, the op-ed title writers may have overplayed things a bit -- her work and the book are about the tenuous finances of the industry; there is no link to a "next financial crisis."
Slightly More than 100 Fantastic Articles -- An awesome smorsgasbord of nonfiction writing, compiled by a writer at The Atlantic. I've only read a handful of these but I'm slowly plowing through the stack.
The Regrets of Lewis Ranieri -- This retrospective by the godfather of securitization is interesting in light of all that's happened.
A Legacy of the Financial Crisis? The Makings of the Next One. -- Roger Lowenstein looks back on the GFC and what might happen in future crises. "The doctrine of moral hazard urges us to discourage risky behavior ex ante. But no philosophy of behavior is worth prolonging a depression once it starts."
Family business. Premium performance. -- This is a Credit Suisse Research Institute publication that looks at 1,000 family owned/controlled companies around the world and has some very interesting data.
Jeff Bezos at the Economic Club of Washington -- A wide-ranging interview full of interesting comments.
Virgin Galactic's Rocket Man -- A riveting story about Virgin's quest to send tourists to space.
The Computer That Almost Started a Nuclear War, and the Man Who Stopped It -- I didn't realize that Petrov died last year, but in any case he has to be one of the most consequential men of the 20th century who never got any attention for it. To the contrary, he was quietly reassigned and then he retired to anonymity. Every time I read about his story I get a chill down my spine.
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