Archive for the 'Finance' Category

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman. John Perkins.

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman. John Perkins.  2016. ISBN 9781626566750.  If you don’t read about the international crooks you will not recognize them at home.  The author worked many years as an EHM. He was trained to go into third world or struggling countries to inflate growth projections from large infrastructure projects  ( Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Panama etc). These projects would then be funded by the World Bank and others and the country would be loaded up with debt.  . The money lent would go to US firms to do the work (of course some $  would find its way into select in country pockets).  The US engineering/construction company owners would pocket huge profits.

The projects would under deliver and the country would not be able to pay even the interest on these huge loans.  The US would pressure the govts to take on more debt, vote certain ways at the UN , buy more US products and so on.. The peoples’ lives would get worse not better. ( shades of the banana king and 1MDB )  If the govts did not play ball with US plans, regime change, assassination etc. would happen (Chile, Honduras, Ecuador, Panama.  Wrap a large disinformation campaign about this all.   You could not make this stuff up.  The author points out now that the same tricks are going on in US states with big projects and perhaps even in Canada.

A potent read, albeit the author is not concise enough for me. The story speaks very loud about the dangers of these large US companies, the military industrial complex and US policy.  Evidently China is following the same US playbook.

Billion Dollar Whale. The man who fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World. Tom Wright & Bradley Hope

Billion Dollar Whale. The man who fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World. Tom Wright & Bradley Hope. 2018. ISBN 978031643648.   Two Wall Street Journal journalists and a host of  forensic legal minds have unfolded the swindle of 1MDB. The loss was  to the tune of $13B dollars (2 % of Malaysian GDP) by Jho Low and his cronies ( including Najib Razak the ex Prime minister of Malaysia) , with the assistance of Goldman Sachs, UAE sovereign wealth funds and a host of sleazy corrupt Abu Dhabi royalty plus offshore and Swiss banks.  Of course the biggest crooks seem to not get any judgment at all while the small potatoes get charged. Low was the Whale who thought nothing of multi million dollar gambling nights, parties and debauchery ( which included huge gifts/graft to potential girlfriends, wives, business associates and friends) . His spending makes Crazy Rich Asians look very tame.  None of the money was his, but was swindled from 1MDB.  The depth of crime is sickening, but true.  It is not unique to Malaysia

Traversing the Traction Gap. Bruce Cleveland.

Traversing the Traction Gap. Bruce Cleveland. 2019. ISBN 9781635765748.  With a forward and collaboration with Geoffrey Moore this promises to be a very important book in the tech sector. The author and his group Wildcat Ventures has analyzed the getting to and through the Chasm in more detail  than ever before.  In our gotomarket practice we have seen the truths that Cleveland puts forward in many iterations in too many companies. A startup and young company should have this book handy through the several years and rough times that they need to weather.  Much of the necessary hard stuff can be planned for and mitigated if you follow what this book has to say.  It goes beyond MVCategory, through MVProduct to MVrevenue, to category lead then traction and scaling. The insights on the right team at all stages  is worth the price of the book.  This may become the tech book of the year.

Family , Kids and Money. Kevin O’Leary

English: Entrepreneur & Reality show personality

Family , Kids and Money. Kevin O’Leary. 2013. ISBN 9780385682404. Sort of the The Wealthy Barber meets The Dragon.  The advice is good, timeless and useful for today.  The thesis is that you are working and growing your wealth in order to create a legacy for future generations.  Quite the idea and one that many might find old fashioned. I found it to be relevant advice and if you follow it – you will be in better financial shape than if you did not. Having a financial plan gives you permission to succeed.   We all need a plan.

The Next Convergence. The future of economic growth in a multispeed world. Michael Spence.

Michael Spence

The Next Convergence. The future of economic growth in a multispeed world. Michael Spence. 2011. ISBN 9781429968713. The author is a Noble winner in economics and a well respected world economist He really looks at the differences of growth and hyper growth between developing  and advanced economies.  He clears away much of the useless dialoge and posturing among politicians and makes  strong case for what has happened and what has to happen.  Again we see that the US is not doing what it should to fix its own house in infrastructure, education and unemployment. Until it does it is acting as an anchor on its own and the world’s economies.  After you read this clearly written book, you will understand  much more what is going on and how countries are mis/behaving.   He also reiterates much of the warnings that are found in Why Boomers Bail.

Hedge Hogs: The Cowboy Traders Behind Wall Street’s Largest Hedge Fund Disaster

English: Wall Street sign on Wall Street

Hedge Hogs: The Cowboy Traders Behind Wall Street’s Largest Hedge Fund Disaster. Barbara T. Dreyfuss. 2013. ISBN  78-1400068395.

Guest post by Nora McCalluum , Senior Wealth Advisor, Portfolio Manager, ScotiaMcLeod.

Thank you for passing along the book Hedge Hogs  to me. I read it this weekend. What an interesting illustration of the personalities of the people who have caused so much damage and pain to so many people.

Makes me wonder if hedge fund traders need to have some (substantial!)degree of sociopathic tendencies.

Street Smarts. Adventures on the road and in the markets. Jim Rogers.

English: American investor Jim Rogers in Madri...

Street Smarts. Adventures on the road and in the markets. Jim Rogers.  2013. ISBN9780307986078. Co-founder (cw George Soros) of the Quantum Fund, Rogers retired at 37. Now living in Singapore, he has made a fortune and a life of shorting stocks, commodities, currencies and what have you.  A very entertaining read he has made pretty well every mistake you could , but he has learned from then all.  He is not  a fan of the US as it stands and although an American holds out little hope for it improving in the future unless it:

  • Sends all politicians to live back home away from the lobbyists and among the  electorate. With all the technology, why do they all have to be in Washington? Should do this in Canada too.
  • Bring all the troops home. it will save money and reduce enemies.
  • Reform the court system to drive down litigation. Losers should pay all court costs
  • Drastically improve the education system to teach to higher levels. Most politicians are now really ignorant.
  • Do the same to the health care system.
  • Drop the income tax system to a consumption tax system. no lawyers, breaks or accountants needed. Encourage/reward savings .
  • He would like the Europeans to let the nations default, while the strong ones can afford it.
  • Open up the countries to immigration and freedom of travel
  • Get rid of all sanctions and allow Americans to invest anywhere and bank anywhere. Get rid of even more bureaucrats

He is quite the character and is trying to see how he can invest in Burma and North Korea since they will need everything.  He likes China, the govt changes every five years. .  Brazil is run by Brazilians so they will screw up. India can not feed its people and is screwed. Russia is run by a dictator, is screwed up plus it will screw you.  You can read this one on four hour flight. It may change your view on most things.

the signal and the noise. why so many predictions fail – but some don’t. nate silver.

English: Icon representing Bayesian statistics

the signal and the noise. why so many predictions fail – but some don’t. nate silver.2012. ISBN 9781594204111. A hard book to classify. Better than Freakonomics and others of that ilk, this book has some pretty hard math and science behind it.  You will learn how gamblers, chess, baseball, poker, the stock market, climatology, weather, terrorism,  and earthquake forecasting schemas work and where they are weak.  As well you get some great advice on Bayesian mathematics, how to reduce  errors in your forecasts ( but never eliminate them, nor do you eliminate your bias).

Great lines (From many sources) :

  • The future seen as sprinkles of probability
  • With more evidence we can get closer and closer to the truth
  • The majority of scientific hypothesis deemed to be true are actually false
  • Big Data will make us more prone to failure
  • most data is noise
  • combining forecasts could reduce error 15-20%
  • the stock market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent
  • unknown unknowns are gaps in our knowledge – but we do not know they exist

Valuable book for your library – this is required reading to reset your brain away from common fallacies. Very readable, good for that trip to the UK and back . My only gripe is that the paper quality is too low – for my eyes I need a brighter white to  see the text.

Debt. The first 5000 years. David Graeber.

Wipe our Debt

Debt. The first 5000 years. David Graeber. 2012. ISBN 9781612191294. The author an economic anthropologist is a prolific academic writer. He was one of the architects of the Occupy Wall Street movement (penning the phrase we are the 99%).

I enjoy these types of thematic history books. Although his writing wanders ( and you will wonder where it is going) it is not enough to deter you from reading this very informative and well documented text ( the chapter notes are almost another book , fascinating).

He discusses honor, credit, slavery, religions  and sociological  history as it pertains to debt (which was developed to fund wars)  – building up to his core question – why should you honor your debts?  At times I wondered how he was getting to this, with a very strong argument against original pure barter theory, Adam Smith and economists in general.

He makes the case that bankers ( central anyway) are adept at making something out of nothing ( ie money or large debts).  This appears to be the basis of his rationale against bailing out the large Wall Street bankers if you do not forgive those who have mortgages under water, or sovereign states like Haiti who will never get out from under the debt load.

His thinking would likely have big forgiveness of many nation states debts  ( Greece etc), and he has the historical records to show why it was done in the past.  He also shows how  the whole world pays tribute to the US wrto their currency and  foretells a long view of China where they may be on their way to unseat the US dollar as the world reserve currency.

I did tend to agree with him that capitalism ( and greed)  requires a  belief that its time is limited, thus one has to grab what you can as quickly as you can.  He believes that capitalism is foundering and since it requires growth (and lots of permanent have nots to function) its flaws will eventually sink it.  He is not optimistic that the World can ever be a place where all are able to enjoy its fruits.

I recommend this book as a good thought and discussion provoker. Not for the light reader.

Dark Pools.High speed traders, AI bandits, and the threat to the global financial system. Scott Patterson.

Cover of "The Quants: How a New Breed of ...

Cover via Amazon

Dark Pools.High speed traders, AI bandits, and the threat to the global financial system. Scott Patterson.2012. ISBN 9780307887177.  Patterson wrote The Quants which I enjoyed so I was looking forward to Dark Pools.  It does not disappoint. He has the gift of rendering what could be numbingly arcane facts and numbers into a very compelling book that reads like a novel. I read it in one sitting – it is that good.  His focus on the people involved is appreciated by the reader.  That all said, this is not a comforting book. The system is rigged against us, the little investor, over the short and long haul. You do find out how these wizards make the money on the backs of others.  You end up with second thoughts as to why anyone still puts money into stocks.   A must read for anyone who interested in how their money works…for others through the use of very advanced computers and machine learning