Paul Allen recalls the energy and
backstabbing that accompanied the founding of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT),
while William D. Cohan parses the history of Goldman Sachs Group
Inc. (GS) in two of our favorite business books so far this year.
Here’s a list of recommended titles.
“Beyond the Invisible Hand” by Kaushik Basu (Princeton).
India’s chief economic adviser explores the dark side of Adam Smith’s invisible hand.
“Beyond Mechanical Markets” by Roman Frydman and Michael D. Goldberg (Princeton). A groundbreaking look at how to tame
asset booms and busts.
“Civilization” by Niall Ferguson (Allen Lane). The
prolific Harvard historian explains how the West came to
dominate the globe.
“Exorbitant Privilege” by Barry Eichengreen (Oxford). A
brisk primer on the dollar’s role as the dominant international
“The Futures” by Emily Lambert (Basic). A bouncy jaunt
through the history of Chicago’s trading pits.
“Gipfel-Stuerme” (“Summit Storms”) by Heinrich Von Pierer (Econ Verlag). Siemens AG (SIE)’s former chief executive and
chairman describes how a corruption scandal at Europe’s largest
engineering company shattered his career. The autobiography is,
regrettably, available only in German.
“Guaranteed to Fail” by Viral V. Acharya, Matthew
Richardson, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh and Lawrence J. White
(Princeton). Four professors at New York University’s Stern
School of Business explain how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got so
big and why we must fix them.
“The Haves and the Have-Nots” by Branko Milanovic
(Basic). The World Bank economist presents “a brief and
idiosyncratic history” of inequality, from ancient Rome to
“How the West Was Lost” by Dambisa Moyo (Allen Lane/
Farrar, Straus & Giroux). A reasoned look at how the world’s
most-advanced nations are squandering their economic lead.
“Idea Man” by Paul Allen (Portfolio/Penguin). This memoir
by Microsoft’s co-founder offers a fascinating look at what it
took to build the software behemoth.
“Money and Power” by William D. Cohan (Doubleday). The
sometimes “schizophrenic” behavior of Goldman Sachs comes into
focus in this history by the author of “House of Cards” and
“The Last Tycoons.”
“The New Lombard Street” by Perry Mehrling (Princeton). A
cogent analysis of how the financial crisis turned the Federal
Reserve into America’s “dealer of last resort.”
“Oil’s Endless Bid” by Dan Dicker (Wiley). Petroleum
prices have gone crazy, and a large share of the blame belongs
to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other banks, argues this
“The Price of Everything” by Eduardo Porter (Portfolio/
Heinemann). An energetic tour of how prices work, from cheap
sperm to $4,731 printer ink.
“Punching Out” by Paul Clemens (Doubleday). A blackly
comic journal of what happens after a U.S. factory shuts down.
“Red Capitalism” by Carl E. Walter and Fraser J.T. Howie
(Wiley). An eye-opening look at how Communist Party bosses
control China’s economy.
“Spousonomics” by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson
(Random House/Bantam). A geeky guide to finding marital bliss
“Ugly Beauty” by Ruth Brandon (Harper). An incisive
history of cosmetics tycoon Helena Rubinstein and Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal SA. (OR)
(James Pressley is a book critic for Muse, the arts and
leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are