Category Archives: Business and Finance

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

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Originally published: 18 September 18 2018
Original Title: Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World
Author: by Tom Wright (Author), Bradley Hope (Author)
Page count: 400 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Non-fiction
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0316436502
Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches | 635 grams

100 Word Book Review:

Descriptively, it traces and dissects the events that transpire from the beginnings to the massive international financial scandal till the present day. From interviews and third-party observations, it documents how Low used tricks and ways to achieve his aims, giving a glimpse into the Low’s mind, and explaining Jho Low’s modus operandi. This book does not simply include and involve Low himself. From Wynton Group to Najib to Otaiba and a myriad of celebrities, it focuses on every individual, every company and governments that have been, unfortunately, implicated in this unbelievable scam. A true-life thriller that reads like Hollywood movie.

Who should read:

People who loves financial thriller and mystery which remains unresolved. At the same time, those with some basic accounting knowledge and corporate structures, in terms of subsidiary and shell companies, will enjoy this book much more.

This is largely because 20% of the book discusses on the framework and layout of Jho Low’s thinkings, as well as execution. With the required knowledge, be it professional or academic background, reading the book feels almost like meeting Jho Low himself.

Who not read it:

Surely those who are seeking fictional or fantasy stories will be disappointed.

As much as the book indicates that any error is on the authors, the book is largely based on witnesses and observations. So it is very easy to believe that the accounts are true and accurate.

Lastly, perhaps those who have a grudge against 1MDB and other related parties. When such unresolved cases are still pending, there will be other sides of the story which are unaccounted for.

Takeaway point:

  • Greed has no boundaries, and some will go to great lengths to satisfy the insatiable wants.
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The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

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Originally published: 09 Feb 2016
Original Title: The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Author: John Perkins
Page count: 384 pages
Publisher: BERRETT-KOEHLER
Genre: Non-fiction
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1626566743
Product Dimensions:55 x 83 x 10mm | 498.95g

100 Word Book Review:

Personally I think business is just business, where willing parties cut deals together. The author describes his career in Seychelles, Honduras, Ecuador, Libya, Turkey, Western Europe, Vietnam, China, and, in perhaps the most unexpected and sinister development, the United States, where new EHMs (Economic Hit Man such as bankers, lobbyists, corporate executives) to con governments and the public submitting to policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Yet author also provides hope, offering a detailed list of specific actions we can take to transform into a model that provides sustainable abundance for all. So not all is lost.

Who should read:

Readers who love spy stuffs, thriller and corporate covert missions will enjoy this book better.

Probably also suitable for those who are interested in solving corporate mystery, the one of the kind of the greatest and unspoken white collar crime.

Who should not read it:

People who are looking for gore and violence will be solely disappointed.

As much as there are some partial mentions of murder and ‘accidents’, this book does not divulge much on the bloody details.

Surely not for those who are seeking adrenaline pumping actions or fighting scenes.

Takeaway points

  • There is a blurred line between right or wrong. And to be able to discern right or wrong, it greatly depends on perspectives.
  • Governments which run like corporates are the most efficient and effective to achieve goals.
  • But is it justifiable at the costs of others?

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

 

 SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

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Originally published: October 20, 2009

Authors: Stephen J. Dubner, Steven Levitt

Genre: Non-fiction

Publisher: William Morrow and Company

Country: USA

 

 

100 Word Book Review:

Economics is the science which studies human behaviour through motivation and choices. Through the authors, economist Levitt and journalist Dubner, they explore and demystify social issues that yield bizarre and interesting results. Social questions such as how are street prostitutes like a department-store Santa, why blow jobs are much less expensive now compared to the past, why terrorists are usually from middle class but not from the poorer families as commonly thought, and etc. These issues are presented in a concise yet detailed manner, allowing anyone with zero economic knowledge to understand the possibilities, and rationale behind such societal phenomenon.

The Weather Makers: Our Changing Climate and What It Means For Life on Earth – Timothy Flannery

The Weather Makers: Our Changing Climate and What It Means For Life on Earth
The Weather Makers: Our Changing Climate and What It Means For Life on Earth

One of our favourite books of 2006

The Weather Makers tells the dramatic story of the earth’s climate, of how it has changed, how we have come to understand it, and of what that means for the future. Tim Flannery’s gripping narrative takes the reader on an extraordinary journey into the past and around the globe, bringing us closer to the science than ever before. Along the way he explodes the many illusions that have grown up around this subject.

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Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The Story of Success
Outliers: The Story of Success

 

Originally published:  January 1st 2008
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Page count: 464 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Non Fiction, Psychology
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316017922
ISBN-13: 9780316017923
Product Dimensions: 139.7 x 203.2 x 40.64mm | 566.99g

 

100 Word Book Review:

The most successful may not always be the smartest or hardest working. A myriad of factors such as culture, family, generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing, where and when were they born. From Asian maths students to the British Beatles, stereotypes can be addressed through different eyes. Gifted or not, most of the time the difference lies in 10,000 hours of training. It helps to understand the winner’s psychology and motivation, along with background behind the drive of success. Everyone can be successful, but not everyone has what it takes. An excellent book for with various case studies.

Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail and Why We Believe Them Anyway – Dan Gardner

Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail - and Why We Believe Them Anyway
Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail – and Why We Believe Them Anyway

 

In 2008, as the price of oil surged above $140 a barrel, experts said it would soon hit $200; a few months later it plunged to $30. In 1967, they said the USSR would have one of the fastest-growing economies in the year 2000; in 2000, the USSR did not exist. In 1911, it was pronounced that there would be no more wars in Europe; we all know how that turned out. Face it, experts are about as accurate as dart-throwing monkeys. And yet every day we ask them to predict the future — everything from the weather to the likelihood of a catastrophic terrorist attack. Future Babble is the first book to examine this phenomenon, showing why our brains yearn for certainty about the future, why we are attracted to those who predict it confidently, and why it’s so easy for us to ignore the trail of outrageously wrong forecasts.

In this fast-paced, example-packed, sometimes darkly hilarious book, journalist Dan Gardner shows how seminal research by UC Berkeley professor Philip Tetlock proved that pundits who are more famous are less accurate — and the average expert is no more accurate than a flipped coin. Gardner also draws on current research in cognitive psychology, political science, and behavioral economics to discover something quite reassuring: The future is always uncertain, but the end is not always near.

 

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The Management Myth: Debunking the Modern Philosophy of Business – Matthew Stewart

The Management Myth: Debunking the Modern Philosophy of Business
The Management Myth: Debunking the Modern Philosophy of Business

“Entertaining and slightly shocking.”

— Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

“Consistently entertaining and enlightening.”

— Harvard Business Review

“Gleefully revealing the magician’s tricks, Stewart takes readers on a whirlwind tour of how [the consulting] industry came to be a powerhouse. Filled with fascinating insider anecdotes and featuring a who’s who in the consulting world … this wry, absorbing book will enlighten executives about the value consultants actually bring to their clients.”

— Publishers Weekly

Don’t go to business school. Study philosophy.

Fresh from Oxford with a degree in philosophy and no particular interest in business, Matthew Stewart might not have seemed a likely candidate to become a consultant. But soon, he was telling veteran managers how to run their companies.

Striking fear into the hearts of clients with his swift, sharp analytical tools, Stewart lived in hotel rooms and got fat on expense account cuisine – until finally, he decided to turn the consultant’s merciless, penetrating eye on the whole management industry itself – the business schools, the consultancies, the gurus, and those lavishly compensated CEOs.

How do so many who know so little make so much by telling other people how to do the jobs they are paid to know how to do? Why do people pursue expensive graduate degrees that have no demonstrable effect on their performance? Why do so many bad books of management advice sell so well? How can I get a job where I make millions in stock options and then leave my company in the dust?

Alongside his devastating critique of management “philosophy” from Frederick Taylor to Tom Peters, Stewart provides a bitingly funny account of his own days in an ethically-challenged management consulting firm.

 

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Superfreakonomics – Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Superfreakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Superfreakonomics – Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. Now, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics, and fans and newcomers alike will find that the freakquel is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.

Four years in the making, SuperFreakonomics asks not only the tough questions, but the unexpected ones: What’s more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it’s so ineffective? Can a sex change boost your salary?

SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as:

  1. How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
  2. Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?
  3. How much good do car seats do?
  4. What’s the best way to catch a terrorist?
  5. Did TV cause a rise in crime?
  6. What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common?
  7. Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness?
  8. Can eating kangaroo save the planet?
  9. Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor?

Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.

Freakonomics has been imitated many times over – but only now, with SuperFreakonomics, has it met its match.

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Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story Of How Wall Street And Washington Fought To Save The Financial System And Themselves – Andrew Ross Sorkin

Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story Of How Wall Street And Washington Fought To Save The Financial System And Themselves - Andrew Ross Sorkin
Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story Of How Wall Street And Washington Fought To Save The Financial System And Themselves – Andrew Ross Sorkin

Sorkin writes about the months after the sale of the Bear Stearns brokerage firm, up through the collapse of Lehman Brothers…and, finally, to “the bailout,” or what government officials prefer to call “TARP”—Troubled Asset Relief Program. It was a desperate time, one which turned conventional politics on its head. Both parties—voting against their deepest-held beliefs—nearly nationalized the banks (say Republicans) or subsidized the wealthy (say Democrats).

What makes the story such fun—oh, yes, it’s fun!—are portraits of outsized personalities—brilliant, driven men and women, who get where they’ve gotten by grueling work schedules, mentors, cut-throat infighting, alliances, and stunning betrayals.

In the days leading up to the bailout, we’re privy to blow-by-blow accounts of these titans as they clash, curse, plead on bended knee, and wretch over toilet bowls. Finally, reluctantly, politicians, government officials, and bankers forge an agreement.

There are no particular villains but plenty of arrogance, blindness, and irresponsibility to go around. There are, however, heroes—Henry Paulson and his team at Treasury; Timothy Geitner, then head of NY-Federal Reserve; and Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman.

This is an ambitious undertaking for any book club. But if you’re up to it, Too Big Too Fail is an extraordinary tale about how close, how very close, we came to a total global meltdown.

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Dear Undercover Economist – Tim Harford

Dear Undercover Economist - Tim Harford
Dear Undercover Economist – Tim Harford

An economist’s version of The Way Things Work, this engaging volume is part field guide to economics and part expose of the economic principles lurking behind daily events, explaining everything from traffic jams to high coffee prices.

The Undercover Economist is for anyone who’s wondered why the gap between rich and poor nations is so great, or why they can’t seem to find a decent second-hand car, or how to outwit Starbucks.

This book offers the hidden story behind these and other questions, as economist Tim Harford ranges from Africa, Asia, Europe, and of course the United States to reveal how supermarkets, airlines, and coffee chains–to name just a few–are vacuuming money from our wallets. Harford punctures the myths surrounding some of today’s biggest controversies, including the high cost of health-care; he reveals why certain environmental laws can put a smile on a landlord’s face; and he explains why some industries can have high profits for innocent reasons, while in other industries something sinister is going on. Covering an array of economic concepts including scarce resources, market power, efficiency, price gouging, market failure, inside information, and game theory, Harford sheds light on how these forces shape our day-to-day lives, often without our knowing it.

Showing us the world through the eyes of an economist, Tim Harford reveals that everyday events are intricate games of negotiations, contests of strength, and battles of wits. Written with a light touch and sly wit, The Undercover Economist turns “the dismal science” into a true delight.

 

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