I am an avid eclectic reader.
I must admit up front that I have never been in a Wal-Mart store and there is no Wal-Mart store anywhere near where I live. My second disclaimer is I absolutely hate to shop; I rush in and obtain the items I need and rush out of the store. Since the 1960 I have made it a mission of mine to buy products made in the United States even if I have to pay more or do without if I cannot find products made in the United State or Canada.
Fishman has done extensive research for this book. He has drawn on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives; pursued a wealth of business and economic data and has created an interesting look at the corporation.
Fishman states the story of Wal-Mart is really the story of the transformation of the American economy over the past twenty years. Fishman presents a case for Wal-Mart (mostly consumer benefit) and against Wal-Mart. Fishman puts the reader inside the company’s penny-pinching mindset and shows how Wal-Mart’s mania to reduce prices has driven suppliers into bankruptcy and sent factory jobs overseas.
The “Wal-Mart effect” has become a common phase in the vocabulary of economists, and includes a broad range of effects, such as forcing local competitors out of business, driving down wages, and keeping inflation low and productivity high. Fishman discusses the replacement of quality with cheapness. The author sees Wal-Mart as neither good nor evil, but simply a fact of modern life. I enjoyed the fact he told stories and named the product and or company he spoke of to demonstrate the good or bad effect. I found the afterword the most important part of the book.
The book is well written and well organized. Fishman has made the book understandable and easy to read. Alan Sklar narrated the book.
With the default of Greece I thought it might be appropriate to read about some of the other troubled economies of the E.U. I saw this book by O’Toole and thought it might be interesting and I must say it sure was.
O’Toole is a commentator and columnist for the Irish Times and is an excellent writer. The book is written in a clear concise manner and is comprehensively researched. This is a serious book, it argues that financial power should be regulated, that crooks should be punished, that corruption should be exposed and not rewarded at the ballot box. O’Toole also outlines changes the Irish need to make to rebuild their country into a strong, financially viable country again.
O’Toole points out that the Irish boom came about from the outside not by changes, growth, and desire of the people. The government encouraged corporations to come to Ireland by offering little or no taxes, and lax regulations.
Wealthy land speculators had cornered urban markets, driving housing prices up 500 per cent in a decade. O’Toole points out that when the crash of 2008 came, the GDP shank, housing prices went into free fall, its banking system collapsed and gross indebtedness outstrips that of Japan. The author blames corrupt politicians, lax regulation, bankers complicit in fraud and tax evasion.
The pity of it O’Toole says is that the boom years were largely squandered. For a brief moment the county had the resources to improve its crumbling social facilities instead it blew it. Everyone should read about this subject and learn about the hazard of government debt before more and more countries follow in the wake of Greece. Roger Clark narrated the book.
Michael Lewis has a spellbinding book with drama in a complex highly technical subject of high frequency computerized trading (HFT) in United States stock markets. This is a highly complex field that few understand; Lewis tries to explain it in terms we all can understand. This is a non-fiction book but the author made no effort to be unbiased. According to Lewis the HFT was encouraged by a regulation passed in 2005, which aimed to open large exchanges such as NYSE and NASDAQ to stiffer competition. Instead in Lewis’s view point the stock markets now are rigged by traders who go to astonishing lengths to gain a millisecond edge over their rivals. As an innocent investor presses a button to buy shares, the HFT trader leaps invisibly into the electronic market to profit from the order and thousands of other, siphoning off billions of dollars a year. The author turn it into a human narrative by telling the rise of HFT through the eyes of Brad Katsuyama a former Royal bank of Canada trader who came to Wall Street and was shocked by what he found. The story tells how he found his own exchange (IEX) that is designed to outwit the HFT abuser. If Lewis is right the regulators have failed and allowed a huge financial scandal to take place under their nose and they also have encouraged the deregulation the stock market. One of the subplots is about the role of Russian computer programmers including Sergey Aleynikov an employee of Goldman Sacks who was arrested by the FBI after leaving the bank in 2009 and charged with stealing computer code. Lewis attempts to explain why Aleynikov is not guilty even thought the jury found him guilty. Many of the Wall Street HFT elite are Russian. American’s lack of mathematical skills opened the field to the Russian mathematical and computer professionals I found this to be an absorbing fast paced story and I sure hope that Lewis has exaggerated the problem to make a good story. Dylan Baker did a good job narrating the book.