Book Reviews

  • Book Review: Loss Coverage – Why Insurance Works Betters with Some Adverse Selection 15 October, 2017 In their book, Loss Coverage: Why Insurance Works Better with Some Adverse Selection, Pradip Tapadar and Guy Thomas propose an interesting point that adverse selection may not be as harmful as many actuaries believe. They actually go further and suggest that, at least from a policy perspective, adverse selection may be a good thing. This is ...
  • Book Review: Flash Boys 16 October, 2014 Michael Lewis, of Liar’s Poker and The Big Short fame, has written a book on the world of High Frequency Trading. The booked is called Flash Boys and it’s more or less as entertaining has Lewis’s recent books.  That’s a good thing, even if it doesn’t quite reach the highs of Liar’s Poker (which you ...
  • Book Review: Bitcon – The Naked Truth About Bitcoin 12 October, 2014 Jeffrey Robinson, the author of the well known book “Laundrymen” that I’m now reading, has written an engaging story about The Satoshi Faithful (as he calls them) supporters of Bitcoin and where their Faith is leading them stray. The book is called BitCon: The Naked Truth About Bitcoin and it doesn’t pull punches in deriding the would-be ...
  • Book Review: The Trouble With Strategy 30 July, 2012 Kim Warren has a trouble. His trouble is with the art and science of business strategy. His book, The Trouble with Strategy: The brutal reality of why business strategy doesn’t work and what to do about it, outlines how poorly mainstream strategy ideas have performed and how slowly (if at all) the “profession of strategy” ...
  • Book Review: The Hedge Fund Mirage [updated] 23 July, 2012 The Hedge Fund Mirage: The Illusion of Big Money and Why It’s Too Good to Be True is an  account of where the money is made in hedge funds and a series of anecdotes about exactly how many different ways everything can go wrong. Author, Simon Lack, combines easy reading prose with sufficiently crisp examples to ...
  • Book Review: The End of Influence 2 May, 2012 Brad de Long and Stephen S. Cohen have a new book called The End of Influence: What Happens When Other Countries Have the Money. It’s an interesting, informative, provocative and relevant read, providing context for the economic position the US finds itself in now. Perhaps of more direct interest, the issues of currency manipulation ...
  • Book Review: Three Cups of Deceit 19 July, 2011 Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way of Chris Mortenson and his best-selling books “Three Cups of Tea”, and “Stones into Schools”. Three Cups of Tea tells the supposedly true story of Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute (CAI) building schools in Pakistan while on a rip-roaring adventure of Taliban ...
  • Book Review: This Time is Different 19 July, 2011 It’s chock-full of analysis, numbers, tables and charts showing how as much as things change, the scope for financial crises changes very little. The comparison of Developed and Emerging Markets is particularly interesting in that the differences, while they do exist, are far smaller than stereotypical views. Emerging Markets do tend to have ...
  • Book Review: Purple Cow 6 December, 2010 Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable–Includes new bonus chapter introduces a new P of marketing (to complement the product, price, place and promotion, or further expand the many Ps that have since been added to the marketing mix). Why Purple Cow? Because it’s extreme, it cuts through the oversaturated marketing ...
  • Book Review: The Big Short 4 July, 2010 Michael Lewis, of Liar’s Poker fame, has written an engaging account of the role that subprime lending played in the global financial crisis. The new book is called The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine The jargon that Lewis uses is generally explained and shouldn’t prevent non finance geeks from understanding the role of subprime lenders, ...
  • Book Review: Socrates and the Fox 19 May, 2010 What an utter disappointment. Clem Sunter may (or may not) know something about strategy and scenario planning, but this book does nothing to excite me. The analogy of a fox is pushed and stretched and twisted to incorporate it into every few pages with no benefit. The structure and flow of the book make it ...
  • Book Review: The Halo Effect 2 May, 2010 I agree wholeheartedly with the basic premise; maybe that is the problem. As I read The Halo Effect: . . . and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers, I moved from nodding vigorously in agreement during the introduction to nodding off to sleep by the second chapter. The general themes of critical thinking, caution ...
  • Book Review: Islamic Banking – A $300 Billion Deception 25 April, 2010 Islamic Banking – A $300 Billion Deception: Observations and Arguments on Riba (interest or usury), Islamic Banking Practices, Venture Capital and Enlightenment. arrived shorter than I expected at around 60 pages, and was probably longer than it needed to be. The author outlines his major points early on and supplements them with some interesting real-world ...
  • In the footsteps of the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz 22 April, 2010 Any company, person or country looking to invest in Africa must read Michela Wrong’s book, “In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo” . The book details the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from its pre-Stanley (yes, that Stanley) days before east African Muslim traders were ...
  • Book Review: How The Mighty Fall 7 April, 2010 Jim Collins set out to write an article on how successful companies fail. For some reason, probably commercial, he decided to turn it into a short book. He should have stuck with the article idea.
  • The Taxi and the Tea Party 11 September, 2009 The Taxi It’s fair to say the South African taxi industry isn’t besotted with the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system. It’s understandable too. No matter what assurances are provided around newly jobless taxi drivers being placed within BRT, the reality is that a more efficient service with larger vehicles will need fewer drivers. It’s also blindingly obvious ...
  • Deja vu and the myopia of our spirit 14 August, 2007 Amongst the stormy seas of markets recently (off the back of a credit and liquidity crunch apparently initiated by ongoing and deepening problems with sub-prime loans in the US and the related CDOs), bobs the grey and bloated bodies of a clichéd failure. Unwavering belief in trends, normal market conditions and trading rules developed out of ...
  • Fooled by the Black Swan 30 July, 2007 Is your organisation one black swan away from disaster? Are you taking hidden risks in the quest for success, and using hope as your only risk management tool? Nassim Taleb’s books should be required reading for life Nassim Taleb is one of my new favourite authors. I’m actually a little slow on the uptake here since I ...
  • Practical optimisation 8 July, 2007 Optimisation is brilliant. It can turn increase profitability, reduce risk, increase output and even turn an non-viable project or factory into a viable one. It can save time, produce less waste and better utilise inputs so that costs are reduced.But it’s difficult, right? That’s why so few people pay real attention to it, why so ...
  • Popular Economics 6 October, 2006 The book, “Freakonomics”, has become something of a pop icon amongst certain groups. The Stevens (well, Steven and Stephen, Levitt and Dubner respectively) cleverly show how economic analysis can shed light on some interesting everyday (and not so everyday) problems and observations. I thoroughly enjoyed it while not agreeing with each and every ...

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