This is actually a very good book that sheds an awful lot of light on the problems currently facing the euro-zone and the United States but I can onlyThis is actually a very good book that sheds an awful lot of light on the problems currently facing the euro-zone and the United States but I can only give it two stars because it really just feels like the second half of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Lewis really ought to have slapped both of these in to one large book because the issues are, in my opinion, impossible to disentangle from one another. Also, extra demerits for weaving in, rather artfully sadly, a re-hashing of well-worn ethnic stereotypes about Germans and Greeks. Still, definitely worth a read....more
Hi, do you like boring and safe methods of investing? Great! It's the only way to fly, as far as I'm concerned. This is the grand-daddy, the fountainhHi, do you like boring and safe methods of investing? Great! It's the only way to fly, as far as I'm concerned. This is the grand-daddy, the fountainhead of all things index investing. Quite frankly, for most people it's the best investment book ever written; you'll likely not need any others. So why only three stars?
Well, frankly, because I've already heard this message a million times throughout my life. This is the seminal wisdom that investment professionals always seem to hand out about investing: Passive strategies beat active strategies. Not that it's not true, just that I find the point to be horribly belabored, in this book and in the world beyond.
So, while it's a great book for anyone starting out in their investment planning, you've likely seen everything contained within before numerous times. A great first book, but not so much if it's your umpteenth....more
Puts a lot of today's economic malaise into perspective with some uber-long-run economic thinking that is ultimately unsatisfying. There's little or nPuts a lot of today's economic malaise into perspective with some uber-long-run economic thinking that is ultimately unsatisfying. There's little or nothing you or anyone else can do to prevent a protracted period of little-to-no growth; we are all Japan; invest in science and innovation. Not that any of this is untrue....more
Liar's Poker is my first exposure to Michael Lewis and also my first exposure to memoir books about finance, the career path that, by revealed prefereLiar's Poker is my first exposure to Michael Lewis and also my first exposure to memoir books about finance, the career path that, by revealed preference, I seem to have chosen to follow. As Lewis tells it, unlike most financial memoirs, this is one of the only ones to talk about the bond market, rather than the stock market, which also happens to be the area in which I have the most experience, so it was only natural that I was enthralled reading this book.
The book follows Lewis' experiences working as a bond salesman for a, now defunct, large financial firm that had specialized in bonds, securities that are less well-known to the average consumer but are actually a far more common way for firms to finance their activities than stocks. The colorful characters and language that ensue actually helped me to come to better understand some of the more prickly characters I've met in the first few years of my career. Ultimately, it is a story of Lewis' incredulity and scorn for the financial industry at large. The work turned out to be prophetic and anyone who wants to understand a little more about the way the financial world works would do well to read it and Lewis' other terrific book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.
In his epilogue, Lewis talks about the chagrin he felt receiving letters from interested college students who wanted to work for a firm like Salomon Brothers. He felt it was a cautionary tale. I hope you'll read it and see it as such....more
A pretty good little story of the before and middle of the financial crises told through the eyes of a bunch of Wall Street outsiders who profited byA pretty good little story of the before and middle of the financial crises told through the eyes of a bunch of Wall Street outsiders who profited by "shorting" it (i.e., betting against it). Odd-ball characters. Under-dogs. Nobodies who get rich quick betting on something everyone else bet against. Despite the collapse, Lewis says we're all still screwed. Ultimately you'll wonder if the "The Big Short" refers not to the betting on the housing collapse and subsequent financial panic, but on how the common person is short-changed, no matter how badly financiers muck things up. Nothing profound, but still, it's interesting....more
While I haven't delved much into biographies since my primary school days, Walter Isaacson's work on Steve Jobs is quite good and I would recommend itWhile I haven't delved much into biographies since my primary school days, Walter Isaacson's work on Steve Jobs is quite good and I would recommend it. If you're at all curious about the man, the myth and the legend of Steve Jobs, you'll not be disappointed. I think the work is a very open and honest one and likely, depending on your own preconceived opinion of Steve Jobs, you'll come away with the notion that your beliefs have been confirmed, but also with a more faceted understanding of who he was and the way his mind worked....more
I like Timothy Ferriss. I love his no-holds-barred, if-it's-worth-doing-it's-worth-overdoing attitude. However, I sincerely doubt this book will profoundly change your life or give it direction and while many of these tips are useful, you've likely heard them other places. Perhaps it's only in hindsight that I can say such a thing though, since his work has pervaded the geek-culture mainstream to such an extent that one could conceivably attach the "4-Hour" moniker to anything and people would get the reference (incidentally, I think his next book is to be titled, "4-Hour Chef").
Since I've started reading this book, I've been having nightmares, and since I've completed it I've been haunted by it; the moral complexity of the chSince I've started reading this book, I've been having nightmares, and since I've completed it I've been haunted by it; the moral complexity of the characters and the situations in the story. The world feels dirty, dark, cold and uncaring in a way that I haven't felt in a long time. It shines a light on a dark corner of the world that few people care to examine and for that it deserves your consideration. Folks without background knowledge about the Japanese language or culture may need to consult Wikipedia from time to time, but it's well worth it. This is a book about very big truths in life. Dare to be haunted by it....more
I disliked this book for two reasons: I do not believe it represents any original ideas and it is, like most business books, horribly verbose. Yawn-ziI disliked this book for two reasons: I do not believe it represents any original ideas and it is, like most business books, horribly verbose. Yawn-zilla. Yawn-a-saurus rex. Avoid.
I take issue with the idea that this book even represents a body of original ideas. The long tail concept is very cute, but after reading it, I can't stop thinking about the story of Sears-Roebuck which Anderson writes about. The notion of giving people access to a plethora of products that were heretofore unobtainable has been done before, we're told. The conclusion I drew was that Amazon and other businesses like it simply do the same thing for the world today that Sears-Roebuck did back then, so that there's still nothing new under the sun. Anderson works backward, arguing that Sears-Roebuck represented an earlier, similar long tail phenomenon. The economics of "abundance" still seems to me to fall into the realm of orthodox economics of a kind Adam Smith would have well-understood: In competitive markets, price approaches marginal cost. Since bits are so cheap that we can take their cost to be negligible, we can provide more and more varied kinds of bits. Instead, Anderson seems to start by assuming this is something totally new and has to develop an elaborate mythology around it so that he'll have something to write about for 300 pages. Like the Black Swan, this book could have been 50 pages and offered as an ebook, satisfying Anderson's own long-tail definition by not fitting the typical pattern of other boring business books....more
I'd never read Aesop's Fables before now, and I was rather surprised at how many of the tales I'd read or heard in a thousand different forms. These sI'd never read Aesop's Fables before now, and I was rather surprised at how many of the tales I'd read or heard in a thousand different forms. These stories really are timeless. It's a quick read and full of familiar moral lessons and common-sense....more
This is a book that I suspect will sneak up on me at a variety of points in my life, when I'm not really thinking about it. At moments of stress or leThis is a book that I suspect will sneak up on me at a variety of points in my life, when I'm not really thinking about it. At moments of stress or leisure, the various thoughts that stick out for me will probably pop up, like a beloved dog poking her nose from under the table. ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice is a moveable feast and represents a very different kind of thinking than I am used to. I look forward to seeing its lessons with my own eyes.
p61 Most people live in delusion, involved in their problem, trying to solve their problem. But just to live is actually to live in problems. And to solve the problem is to be a part of it, to be one with it.
p67 It is difficult to have good communication between parents and children because parents always have their own intentions. Their intentions are nearly always good, but the way they speak, or the way they express themselves, is often not so free; it is usually too one-sided and not realistic. We each have our own way of expressing ourselves, and it is difficult to change that way according to the circumstances. If parents can manage to express themselves in various ways according to each situation, there will be no danger in the education of their children.
p79 "In calmness there should be activity; in activity there should be calmness." Actually, they are the same thing; to say "calmness" or to say "activity" is just to expres two different interpretations of one fact.
p82 The true practice of zazen is to sit as if drinking water when you are thirsty. There you have naturalness. It is quite natural for you to take a nap when you are very sleepy. But to take a nap just because you are lazy, as if it were the privilege of a human being to take a nap, is not naturalness. You think, "My friends, all of them, are napping; why shouldn't I? When everyone else is not working, why should I work so hard? When they have a lot of money, why don't I?" This is not naturalness. Your mind is entangled with some other idea, someone else's idea, and you are not independent, not yourself, and not natural.
p92 Dogen-zenji said, "Even though it is midnight, dawn is here; even though dawn comes, it is nighttime." This kind of statement conveys the understanding transmitted from Buddha to the Patriarchs, and from the Patriarchs to Dogen, and to us. Nighttime and daytime are not different. The same thing is sometimes called nighttime, sometimes called daytime. They are one thing.
p95 There is a Japanese saying, "For the moon; there is the cloud. For the flower there is the wind." When we see a part of the moon covered by a cloud, or a tree, or a weed, we feel how round the moon is.
p96 Which is more important; to attain enlightenment, or to attain enlightenment before you attain enlightenment; to make a million dollars, or to enjoy your life in your effort, little by little, even though it is impossible to make that million; to be successful, or to find some meaning in your effort to be successful? If you do not know the answer, you will not even be able to practice zazen; if you do know, you will have found the true treasure of life.
p97 Those who are attached only to the result of their effort will not have any chance to appreciate it, because the result will never come. But if moment by moment your effort arises from its pure origin, all you do will be good, and you will be satisfied with whatever you do.
p101 Do not try to stop your mind, but leave everything as it is. Then things will not stay in your mind so long. Things will come as they come and go as they go. Then eventually your clean, empty mind will last fairly long.
p111 We must have a beginner's mind, free from possessing anything, a mind that knows everything is in flowing change. Nothing exists but momentarily in its present form and color. One thing flows into another and cannot be grasped. Before the rain stops we hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth....more
Stock's Introduction to Econometrics is probably the best undergrad text I've found on regression, explaining even some fairly advanced topics in an aStock's Introduction to Econometrics is probably the best undergrad text I've found on regression, explaining even some fairly advanced topics in an accessible way. I've used it extensively to try to understand some of the hairier concepts I've been dealing with in my first-year grad sequence....more
A book such as this serves no purpose in this day and age when one can easily get terse summaries of different statistical and econometric techniquesA book such as this serves no purpose in this day and age when one can easily get terse summaries of different statistical and econometric techniques from Wikipedia. This book has an awful lot of words but very few examples of how to apply many of techniques in practice, so often it doesn't really help when you have a confusion that you're trying to clear up. If William Greene's Econometric Analysis is too mathematical, at least it has good examples of how to apply that math and sometimes the math can yield good intuition.
This book certainly doesn't claim to be the most rigorous text and so I don't judge it as such, but it also provide very little value if what you seek is intuition. Better to skip it and find another book....more
I love books about crazy people (usually guys) who shamelessly and unapologetically chase after one form of ideal or another (see my review of UltramaI love books about crazy people (usually guys) who shamelessly and unapologetically chase after one form of ideal or another (see my review of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner) and The 4-Hour Body proves to be no exception. I think it's just an appreciation of people who pull out all the stops; who do things normal people don't. This book is highly readable and full of interesting stories from a guy who obviously loves to talk about himself and his accomplishments. Likely, there is little new data in this book for you, but a bringing together of various different ideas and techniques that you've heard of in a "hodge-podge" (to borrow an expression used by another reviewer) way. I understand that's a bit how The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich was too, so why expect something different?
Likely you'll find some of this book interesting and some of it not. Ferriss was obviously aware and so tells you in the first chapter to skip around, which worked well for me; although I did read the entire thing in the course of a few days (I got things to do, people).
While reading I found myself sort of on the knife's edge of knowing whether I was being duped by a charlatan or learning from the real McCoy. I think that's still where I sit with this book and that's a credit to the success of Ferriss' own personal marketing machine. Read. Be skeptical. See what works for you. That's life anyway....more
Varian's Intermediate Microeconomics is a fantastic introduction to microeconomic theory. Particularly in the early phase of my first-year graduate ecVarian's Intermediate Microeconomics is a fantastic introduction to microeconomic theory. Particularly in the early phase of my first-year graduate economics course work, I often turned to it to gain intuition. It stands the test of time as a great reference....more