Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.
This book makes an historical argument that the natural evolution for information industries is a succession of generations, where each generation starts with an open disruptive innovation that at some point transitions to a closed monopoly (or duopoly). The book then expands on this model, by showing a few common, but less natural (i.e., forced) variations on this pattern. The first variation is where the established monopoly destroys the new industry in it infancy (usually involving some criminal thuggery and a good deal of predatory pricing and/or price fixing), thus co-opting the disruption. A less common variation is where the government steps in to breakup or limit the anti-social behaivor of a monopoly.
The book then argues that the Internet is historically unique among information industries, because it has created horizontal monopolies (like Google) instead of the traditional vertical monopolies (like ATT or NBC at their peeks). The result is a much more openness for the same level of industry maturity, which is mostly good for society. The author seems deeply ambivalent about rather this is a stable situation. It presents a rather strong set of arguments for the idea that sometime in the next 10 year (approximately) the Internet will probably transformed from the ???Wild West??? into a closed monopoly much more like TV in the ???70s. But in the end the author is unsure that the Internet is not somehow fundamentally different, so he argues that, while this possibility should be taken far more seriously than most do, the actually outcome is approximately unknowable.
Nevertheless, he embraces the idea that society should want the internet to remain open and should be willing to make changes to ensure that this happens.
Thinking about the internet in the context of the long history of abusive monopolistic practices in U.S. information industries is a surprisingly useful. This is one of the better books I???ve read this year.
This is a gripping story about a handful of traders who not only understood the housing bubble but had access to the technical apparatus to short the trend. Of course, they all became fabulously wealthy in a few weeks when Lehman Brothers revealed that the "Emperor had not Cloths".
This book has been much hyped, and I heard Dian Rehm interviewing the author on NPR; she ask him, "Aren???t you afraid that you book will inspire others to do the same" ??? I was shocked ??? The point of the book is that society needs more shorts.
Greenspan never quit argued that the market doesn't need regulation. His argument (even before his congressional testimony to the affect that he may have been partly wrong) was that although the market requires regulation, government regulation is less effective than the regulation of the marketplace (i.e., than private regulation). The primary way in which markets self-regulate is by allowing smart people to bet against the crooks; shorting the hucksters puts them out of business much faster than any government bureaucrat.
The troubling point, at least for me, is just how hard it is to short even a blatant fraud. The reasons range for trading technology to populist propaganda and are more implicit in this book, then actually enumerated. Greenspan argues that overpaid young cooks almost always (but not quite always) circumvent government regulators; this book shows that they almost as easily circumvent private regulators.
It also celebrates three instances where private regulators ???got their man???.
This book systematically reviews Obama’s foreign policy. The author is an impressive journalist; and the quality of the research is excellent; WikiLeaks is uses somewhat heavy in combination with many other protected sources. Perhaps books are the new outlet for serious journalism.
The book somewhat strongly refutes the idea that Obama’s foreign policy is wimpy. For me it also reinforced the idea that his administration is more amateurish than professional. Finally, it somewhat strongly argued that Obama’s administration has learned on the job far better than most and has adapted somewhat aggressively, once it finally figures things out.
As a disenfranchised republican I was compelled to vote for Hillary. I tended to view Obama as a Jimmy Carter like character (i.e., well-meaning but perhaps in over his head). In some regards this book reinforced these pre-existing beliefs. The surprising thing, however, is that the book convinced me that Obama somewhat consistently gets to a good outcome in the end, after first pushing several bad strategies. For me this was a new insight.
It is said that Obama is an advocate of Lincoln’s idea of a Team of Rivals (see book by that name). If true this book reveals the strengths and weaknesses of this approach. First of all, the team of rivals approach requires a very powerful leader (and Obama is no Lincoln). Secondly it’s a pretty ugly process (even Lincoln’s presidency reveals that). But in the end this approach maybe more robust than it appears, i.e., eventually getting to a good outcome most of the time.