The Top Ten Business Books of the Decade 2005-2014
Capital, Thomas Piketty, 2014
What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories.
In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality. Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality - the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth - today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.
A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.
The Everything Store, Brad Stone, 2013
Though Amazon.com started off delivering books through the mail, its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, was never content with being just a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become "the everything store", offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To achieve that end, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that's never been cracked. Until now...
Jeff Bezos stands out for his relentless pursuit of new markets, leading Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle and cloud computing, and transforming retail in the same way that Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing. Amazon placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet.
Nothing would ever be the same again..
Private Empire, Steve Coll, 2012
In Private Empire, Steve Coll, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Ghost Wars and The Bin Ladens, investigates the notoriously mysterious ExxonMobil Corporation and the secrets of the oil industry.
In many of the nations where it operates, ExxonMobil has a greater sway than that of the US embassy, its annual revenues are larger than the total economic activity in most countries and in Washington it spends more on lobbying than any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is to outsiders a black box.
Private Empire begins with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and closes with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Steve Coll's narrative spans the globe, taking readers to Moscow, impoverished African capitals, Indonesia and elsewhere as ExxonMobil carries out its activities against a backdrop of blackmail threats, kidnapping, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin. In the US, Coll goes inside ExxonMobil's ruthless Washington lobbying offices and its corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas, where top executives oversee a bizarre corporate culture of discipline and secrecy.
Private Empire is the masterful result of Steve Coll's indefatigable reporting, from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta; previously classified U.S. documents; heretofore unexamined court records; and many other sources.
Poor Economics, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, 2011
Why would a man in Morocco who doesn't have enough to eat buy a television?
Why do the poorest people in India spend 7 percent of their food budget on sugar?
Does having lots of children actually make you poorer?
This eye-opening book overturns the myths about what it is like to live on very little, revealing the unexpected decisions that millions of people make every day. Looking at some of the most paradoxical aspects of life below the poverty line - why the poor need to borrow in order to save, why incentives that seem effective to us may not be for them, and why, despite being more risk-taking than high financiers, they start businesses but rarely grow them
Banerjee and Duflo offer a new understanding of the surprising way the world really works.
Fault Lines, Raghuram Rajan, 2010
Raghuram Rajan was one of the few economists who warned of the global financial crisis before it hit. Now, as the world struggles to recover, it's tempting to blame what happened on just a few greedy bankers who took irrational risks and left the rest of us to foot the bill. In Fault Lines, Rajan argues that serious flaws in the economy are also to blame, and warns that a potentially more devastating crisis awaits us if they aren't fixed.
Rajan shows how the individual choices that collectively brought about the economic meltdown--made by bankers, government officials, and ordinary homeowners--were rational responses to a flawed global financial order in which the incentives to take on risk are incredibly out of step with the dangers those risks pose. He traces the deepening fault lines in a world overly dependent on the indebted American consumer to power global economic growth and stave off global downturns.
He exposes a system where America's growing inequality and thin social safety net create tremendous political pressure to encourage easy credit and keep job creation robust, no matter what the consequences to the economy's long-term health; and where the U.S. financial sector, with its skewed incentives, is the critical but unstable link between an overstimulated America and an underconsuming world.
In Fault Lines, Rajan demonstrates how unequal access to education and health care in the United States puts us all in deeper financial peril, even as the economic choices of countries like Germany, Japan, and China place an undue burden on America to get its policies right.
He outlines the hard choices we need to make to ensure a more stable world economy and restore lasting prosperity.
Lords of Finance, Liaquat Ahamed, 2009
This has happened before.
The current financial crisis has only one parallel: the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression of the 1930s, which crippled the future of an entire generation and set the stage for the horrors of the Second World War. Yet the economic meltdown could have been avoided, had it not been for the decisions taken by a small number of central bankers.
In Lords of Finance, we meet these men, the four bankers who truly broke the world: the enigmatic Norman Montagu of the bank of England, Benjamin Strong of the NY Federal Reserve, the arrogant yet brilliant Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbanlk and the xenophobic Emile Moreau of the Banque de France. Their names were lost to history, their lives and actions forgotten, until now. Liaquat Ahamed tells their story in vivid and gripping detail, in a timely and arresting reminder that individuals - their ambitions, limitations and human nature - lie at the very heart of global catastrophe.
When Markets Collide, Mohamed El-Erian, 2008
Never before have investors and policy makers been beset by so many conflicting messages about the economy and the markets. While most pundits dismiss the conflicts as "noise" in the system, Mohamed A. El-Erian, president and CEO of the $35 billion Harvard Endowment and incoming co-CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, one of today's most successful investment firms, avers that those messages signal deep, structural changes and realignments that are radically redefining the investment game.
Written by the man who Fortune magazine refers to as a "Global Guru", When Markets Collide offers a cogent picture of the rapidly changing world financial system. A book that is sure to become an overnight investment classic, it gets you up to speed on the new economic and investing landscape and provides a detailed blueprint for capitalizing on the phenomenal opportunities now available in that new investment landscape, while minimizing the new and challenging set of risks.
The Last Tycoons, William Cohan, 2007
They amassed unimaginable fortunes and would stop at nothing to make a deal, until their titanic egos started to jeopardize everything. This is the astonishing story of Lazard Freres, the world's most elite and legendary investment bank - and the men who reigned over it all. For over 150 years Lazard Freres had stood apart from other Wall Street firms by offering ultra-wealthy clients the wisdom of its "Great Men": from Felix Rohatyn, the escapee from Nazi-occupied France turned financial genius, to Michel David-Weill, the inscrutable French billionaire "Sun King"; from Steve Rattner, the boy wonder from Long Island who clashed violently with the old guard, to larger-than-life CEO Bruce Wasserstein, "Bid-Em-Up Bruce", who broke with the bank's traditions and made himself billions in the process.
In The Last Tycoons William Cohan, himself a former high-level Wall Street banker, takes us into their mysterious and secretive world, telling a story of ruthless ambition, whispered advice, explosive feuds, glamorous mistresses, decadent excesses and unimaginable wealth.
China Shakes the World, James Kynge, 2006
The new China, the nation that in 25 years has changed beyond all recognition, is becoming an industrial powerhouse for the world. James Kynge shows not only the extraordinary rise of the Chinese economy, but what the future holds as China begins to influence the world.
On the eve of the British industrial revolution some 230 years ago, China accounted for one third of the global economy. In 1979, after 30 years of Communism, its economy contributed only two per cent to global GDP. Now it is back up to five per cent, and rising. Although China is already a palpable force in the world, its re-emergence is only just starting to be felt.
Kynge shows China's weaknesses - its environmental pollution, its crisis in social trust, its weak financial system and the faltering institutions of its governments - which are poised to have disruptive effects on the world. The fall-out from any failure in China's rush to modernity or simply from a temporary economic crash in the Chinese economy would be felt around the world.
The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman, 2005
The beginning of the twenty-first century will be remembered, Friedman argues, not for military conflicts or political events, but for a whole new age of globalisation - a "flattening" of the world. The explosion of advanced technologies now means that suddenly knowledge pools and resources have connected all over the planet, levelling the playing field as never before, so that each of us is potentially an equal - and competitor - of the other.
The rules of the game have changed forever - but does this "death of distance", which requires us all to run faster in order to stay in the same place, mean the world has got too small and too flat too fast for us to adjust? Friedman brilliantly demystifies the exciting, often bewildering, global scene unfolding before our eyes, one which we sense but barely yet understand. The World is Flat is the most timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and its discontents, powerfully illuminated by a world-class writer.