The holiday countdown has begun, meaning winter break reading season is fast approaching. Looking for some title recommendations as you compile your holiday reading list? My BlackRock Investment Institute colleagues and I discussed the books we recently read, or plan to read this holiday season, with the aim of becoming better investors. Here are our picks, all but mine in alphabetical order.
Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises by Robert Z. Aliber and Charles P. Kindleberger. Thinking of buying some bitcoin? A reread of this classic on what was behind past financial crises is a good refresher before you do. It’s the top of my reading list this holiday season. And after finishing it, I’ll be brushing up on my bitcoin “mining” skills by reading about the Secure Hash Algorithm-256.
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli. This book describes the most common cognitive biases, or thinking errors, people make, and is essential reading for improving investing decision making.
Globalization and America’s Trade Agreements by William Krist. This book runs us through the history of U.S. trade agreements and provides a take on where we go from here. It’s a timely read as we enter another year of ongoing trade uncertainties, notes Vlad Bouchouev, an investment strategist within the BlackRock Investment Institute, who recommends this book.
The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel. BlackRock’s Chief Investment Strategist for Canada Kurt Reiman is hoping to finish this “rather dense” book on economic redistribution he started a few months ago. The author explores why income inequality and all of the associated societal ills have only worsened even as the U.S. has experienced an eight-year-long economic expansion. And the author comes to some sobering conclusions in the first chapter: only massive upheaval through wars, revolution, disasters, famine and disease has been successful historically in leveling economic conditions. Perhaps not the most uplifting book for the holidays, but Kurt notes “it’s good to have a realistic perspective on what governments will be able to do to limit further inequality, as automation, artificial intelligence and blockchain threaten to disrupt incumbent firms and people’s way of life.”
Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein. Sriram Reddy, an investment strategist within BlackRock’s Global Fixed Income Group, recommends this book, named the 2017 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year. The author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter, shares the tale of small town Janesville after the closing of a General Motors’ assembly plant. Sri says the author nails the limitations to retraining the unemployed, raising questions about a key tenet of globalization.
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams. Can exposure to the outside world help improve our cognitive skills, creativity and even mood? That’s the question the author explores in this investigation into the link between the brain and nature, a pick from BlackRock’s Chief Equity Strategist Kate Moore.