Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer reading list

I've acquired the following books lately (some as review copies) and have found time to read parts of some of them, as discussed below. All conclusions are tentative, as I haven't completely read through any of them.

Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology, and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics, by Mark Buchanan. This is by a physicist and science writer, who writes at Bloomberg View and elsewhere. His critique of economics is caustic; I suspect a book on this topic written before the financial crisis would've had a more detached tone. He argues economists place too much confidence in markets being in equilibrium, giving too little weight to the causes and likelihood of crises. That seems plausible to me. Other than a Hyman Minsky book I read at some point in college, I don't recall delving much into crises, bubbles and meltdowns as an economics major in the 1980s.

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming, by McKenzie Funk. I skipped to the last part of this book, which has a fascinating discussion of geoengineering, a subject I have been following with growing interest. I was unaware, or at best dimly aware, of the company Intellectual Ventures' focus on the subject, which evidently got a fair amount of publicity a few years ago. On a related note, see this piece by my ex-Sciam colleague David Biello on "Engineering the ocean."

 The System Worked: How the World Stopped Another Great Depression, by Daniel W. Drezner. I have not had a chance to read enough of this yet to have even a tentative response. I've found Drezner often interesting as a blogger over the years.

Hard Choices, by Hillary Rodham Clinton. As I've become more of a centrist, the likelihood has grown that someday I would read a book by Hillary Clinton, and not just view it through the filter of the conservative press. I also think the growing disarray of Obama foreign policy in the past year and a half is a point in her favor, as it suggests she was helping hold things together until then. However, I have only read the first chapter (in which she agrees to join the "team of rivals") and saw some worrying signs that this is going to be a very cautious, and therefore dull, book; hope I'm wrong.

Note: As usual with this blog, the book links are to Amazon, and potentially could generate some share of revenues for me from transactions that occur after readers click through on them.

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