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PHIL

San Diego, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

ratings
140
REVIEWS
135
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
115
HELPFUL VOTES
322

  • 100 Minds That Made The Market

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Ken Fisher
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Introducing the new Fisher Investment Series, comprised of engaging and informative titles written by renowned money manager and best-selling author Ken Fisher. This series offers essential insights into the worlds of investing and finance.Over the course of nearly two centuries, the innovations, mistakes, and scandals of different market participants have played an important role in shaping today's financial markets.

    PHIL says: "Enjoyable, moves briskly"
    "Enjoyable, moves briskly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a good format to walk through many eras of Wall Street, events and biographies. I listen to lots of non-fiction and always like to keep a more entertaining (though non-fiction), "story"-type audiobook going, alongside more dry or technical books, and this fills the bill quite well. It is somewhat dated, seemingly written in the 90s, before repeal of Glass-Steagall for example. But, a good solid history like this one doesn't really suffer from that. There are lots of little (sometimes colorful) facts mixed in, that sharpen and round out my knowledge of this history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Law in American History : Volume 1: From the Colonial Years Through the Civil War

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By G. Edward White
    • Narrated By Graeme Spicer
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    In the first of the three volumes of his projected comprehensive narrative history of the role of law in America from the colonial years through the twentieth century, G. Edward White takes up the central themes of American legal history from the earliest European settlements through the Civil War.

    PHIL says: "A delight for those with deep law interest"
    "A delight for those with deep law interest"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This work is by and for people with long attention spans and some knowledge of (and pretty strong motivation to stay with and learn) legal concepts. As a longtime legal scholar, I can't know what this would sound like to someone without that background. It seems clear as a bell to me, all through. Listening to this, I realize the vastness of the topic, and impossibility of fitting a fully comprehensive treatment into even this larger audiobook. But I came away with much improved knowledge of such topics as: (1) property rights in the colonies, and vis a vis the Native Americans; (2) "justice" as practiced in relation to those natives; (3) shifts in legal doctrines as new ways of business (e.g., canals, railroads, more new business entities appearing and competing, in areas formerly under older-type monopoly charters) emerged along with cities, more courts, and various judicial and other government personalities; (4) the runup to the Civil War, which receives a very detailed legal treatment, along with the status of slaves; and (4) the course of that war. The discussion of the Confederate Constitution (and much of the mentality and doctrines of the South as regards slavery) is but one example of very eye-opening contents of this book. The Dred Scott decision is taken apart in meticulous detail. Of course, some areas get shorter treatment, such as the finer details of government finance, but this book is great value for me. It's not everyone's cup of tea, though. I sure hope the author puts out the promised further volume!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Nomi Prins
    • Narrated By Marguerite Gavin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    Nomi Prins ushers us into the intimate world of exclusive clubs, vacation spots, and Ivy League universities that binds presidents and financiers. She unravels the multi-generational blood, intermarriage, and protégé relationships that have confined national influence to a privileged cluster of people. This unprecedented history of American power illuminates how financiers have retained their authoritative position through history, swaying presidents regardless of party affiliation.

    PHIL says: "Good big-picture view, not spoiled by the biases"
    "Good big-picture view, not spoiled by the biases"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This story, as the title suggests, plays out across a big canvas, with many participants. It does not conceal its general suspicions of the motives of big bankers, but the motives of self-interested big players in a political economy can profitably be viewed through such a prism. It is balanced enough not to cause me revulsion, which I feel at any crazily filered and tilted story in either direction politically. As an avid reader in this area, plenty of useful detail is to be had here. I would combine this listening with the excellent (more conservative) audiobook 'Fragile By Design,' to get a more overall balanced view. The narration is listenable if not great.
    I appreciate a good plain overview of such areas as design of the the postwar (WW2) global financial world order, the role of private bankers (whose mixing into the New Deal and WW2 US financial structure is well described) and how it fit with the emerging Cold War. This book is very good at sketching the overall structures taking shape in different eras. And true to the title, we see how the various sales pitches made by presidential candidates became the actual arrangements during each of the presidencies. Certainly such personalities as Morgan's Thomas Lamont were huge influences in the governance of this country, though private actors.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Mark Stevens
    • Narrated By Mark Stevens
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (30)

    In this dramatic portrait of legendary and, until now, secretive financier Carl Icahn, best-selling business writer Mark Stevens takes us behind the scenes of some of the biggest deals in U.S. corporate history. A fascinating tale with a cast of characters that includes Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, T. Boone Pickens, Dennis Levine, and most of the other key players of the '70s and '80s takeover era, King Icahn is the first biography of the business buccaneer who changed the course of corporate America.

    Jonathan says: "Terrible Narrator"
    "Fine corporate history of a tough arena"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Anyone wondering whether (s)he has the "minerals" (as the Brits say) to jump into the deep end of corporate M&A ought to give this little gem a listening-to. Carl Icahn as depicted here was at the same moment a sharp-elbowed, hugely exasperating, and skillful, brilliant intruder into formerly staid halls of US corporate life. He's the kind of guy who, no matter how you personally feel about him or his ways of business, is going to be here and in your face and involved in your affairs if he wants to be. And he wants to be, if his brilliant tactical multi-level chess-playing mind can see a way to make money. (I imagine he might launch into the shareholder value enhancement speech at this point, which I came to see as often correct. But only consistent with his profits.) Unlike another reviewer, I found the author's street-level east-coast accent a perfect fit here. I was surprised the author got access to Icahn himself, as the author at turns is quite critical of him. That's all for the better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Ron Chernow
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (40)

    A gripping history of banking and the booms and busts that shaped the world on both sides of the Atlantic, The House of Morgan traces the trajectory of the J. P.Morgan empire from its obscure beginnings in Victorian London to the crash of 1987. Ron Chernow paints a fascinating portrait of the private saga of the Morgans and the rarefied world of the American and British elite in which they moved. Based on extensive interviews and access to the family and business archives, The House of Morgan is an investigative masterpiece.

    Courtney says: "Starts out strong but then fractures"
    "Monumental. Loved it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first Ron Chernow book I have read. Wow, what a storyteller. I presume the reader already has an interest in the overall topic. Mr Chernow has a way of plucking out a telling little detail that sets a scene or gives a sense of a personality marvelously. And he tirelessly delivers this sort of thing across a vast canvas. He did the same with Alexander Hamilton, as I have since heard it. I hope an audio of his book "The Warburgs" is forthcoming.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Charles Kenny
    • Narrated By Tim Andres Pabon
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    America is in decline, and the rise of the East suggests a bleak future for the world’s only superpower - so goes the conventional wisdom. But what if the traditional measures of national status are no longer as important as they once were? What if America’s well-being was assessed according to entirely different factors? In The Upside of Down, Charles Kenny argues that America’s so-called decline is only relative to the newfound success of other countries.

    PHIL says: "Short counter-narrative a breeze of fresh thought"
    "Short counter-narrative a breeze of fresh thought"
    Overall
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    Story

    I can't say any of the rosy possibilities imagined here will come true. Who can? However, This book has a fine place, if for no other reason than to make our minds more limber, and help us shake off a bit of the fatigue of fearing the worst. (Look, Britain no longer rules the waves, and its standard of living has been pretty good, in a world where it was forced to assume a less unipolar "top dog" spot in the global community.) In the biggest of all narratives of current history, as I see suggested here, we live in a world where many economies have adopted roughly some version of our way of creating wealth, and I mean by productivity and trade. A China so entwined with the USA and the rest of the globe financially and in trade, is a far better vision than the possible alternatives -- such as a Nazi-type military kleptocracy. It isn't as bad as it could be, this book cogently argues. And I need to imagine in these sorts of directions, to commit some resources to the possibility of good global upsides (not least for the USA) in this type of possible future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Charles W. Calomiris, Stephen H. Haber
    • Narrated By Basil Sands
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several centuries, Fragile by Design demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders, depositors, debtors, and taxpayers.

    PHIL says: "An all-time favorite in banking, history, politics"
    "An all-time favorite in banking, history, politics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    All my main interests converge in this book. The authors' labors came to great fruit in a thorough, eye-opening tour of banking in several countries and centuries. I learned more about the histories of Brazil and Mexico (despite having read other books, and traveled extensively in Mexico) than I ever knew, in a few hours.
    The narratives frame banking systems and their impacts on nations as the products of a "game of bank bargains" in each nation, and in each time-frame, between various interest groups. This makes enormous sense, and is a refreshing departure from partisan screeds that lazily serve up the same pre-set heroes and villains. I like the authors' approach of blending disciplined narratives showing particular nations' contexts and nuances, in easy-to-follow stories, with some telling numbers. Various institutional weaknesses are highlighted, or flawed bargains, as sources of trouble: opposing groups can be, at best, powerful checks and balances on each other, and often these balances have become too lopsided, and banking crises are sure to follow. In this light, the collapse of banking systems, currencies, and governments makes clear sense. The result of this approach: deeper knowledge of history and sharper thinking and analysis. And all this is delivered in an accessible, listenable form.
    Some with a brittle partisan pre-loaded set of desired answers (on either side) may be perturbed at turns. Some on the left will be uncomfortable when a microscope is turned onto the banker-urban-populist bargains in the runup to USA's 2008 subprime credit bust. But by the time this story is detailed, we are already well briefed on a history of unstable banking bargains in US history, among various players. This made me look with a more appraising and cynical eye at the smooth cartoons of rosy all-around public benefit and skillful crisis management produced by politicians (on either side) as their self-serving draft of history, and as an apologia for their various manipulations of banking systems.
    USA's set of bank bargains, and their outcomes and present state, can be compared, apples-to-apples, with Britain, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Germany, and more. (This is, however, primarily a history book, not specifically an update of very current events.) This book stands alongside any I've ever read in these various sub-fields. I agree with the likes of Niall Ferguson that finance gives key understandings of history, when done with smarts and disciplined scholarship. This book tells me more about why nations are where they are, than any other I can think of.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wall Street: A History, Updated Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Charles R. Geisst
    • Narrated By Stephen McLaughlin
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (14)

    Wall Street is an unending source of legend - and nightmares. It is a universal symbol of both the highest aspirations of economic prosperity and the basest impulses of greed and deception. Charles R. Geisst's Wall Street is at once a chronicle of the street itself - from the days when the wall was merely a defensive barricade built by Peter Stuyvesant - and an engaging economic history of the United States, a tale of profits and losses, enterprising spirits, and key figures that transformed America into the most powerful economy in the world.

    PHIL says: "Many books in one; best linking of stories, eras"
    "Many books in one; best linking of stories, eras"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read dozens of books in this genre. Yet, here I had many "gee whiz" moments, understanding in new ways (and sometimes clearly for the first time) how many of these dots connected between personalities, groups in society, financial innovations and eras, and various world players affecting, and affected by, Wall Street. The explanations are sensible and clear, and flow sensibly across time and through these overlapping factors. Many books have picked up some segment of this, and I have heard many of these stories in a fragmented way, but these fragmented books tended to wander into details that can lose the thread of important facts and ideas, or to start and stop at arbitrary points. Half a dozen segments here could be books in themselves.
    As for the narration, at first I thought it a bit on the relaxed and plodding side, but as time has passed, I have found it very listenable, and able to hold my attention.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Legacies of Great Economists

    • ORIGINAL (7 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Timothy Taylor
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    When it comes to economics and economic theory, a few thinkers dominate the landscape. Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Alfred Marshall, John Maynard Keynes, and a handful of others have shaped the world of economics and influenced our lives. These 10 lectures acquaint you with the thoughts, theories, and lives of these great economists.

    PHIL says: "A fine basic survey: a home run for Prof. Taylor"
    "A fine basic survey: a home run for Prof. Taylor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This professor is passionate, obviously engaged with his subject, clear and accessible. This survey moves across many big books full of ideas pretty quickly, so naturally it does not get into the more abstract and technical fine points. But to readily get a good basic feel for these ideas and thinkers (and their writing, which is critiqued a bit, and explained in light of the prevalent ideas of their times), one couldn't start at a better place.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Thinking Like an Economist: A Guide to Rational Decision Making

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Randall Bartlett
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (88)
    Story
    (89)

    Economic forces are everywhere around you. But that doesn't mean you need to passively accept whatever outcome those forces might press upon you. Instead, with these 12 fast-moving and crystal clear lectures, you can learn how to use a small handful of basic nuts-and-bolts principles to turn those same forces to your own advantage.

    A User says: "A difficult subject made easy!"
    "Clear, useful, accessible"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It was a pleasure to listen to this. I never found myself zoning out or wondering (as I often do) when the speaker will cut through the fuzzy jargon and get to the point. The points are all set out. This has helped me think more clearly in my own decisions, and express myself more clearly in my own business teaching.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Alan Greenspan
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Like all of us, though few so visibly, Alan Greenspan was forced by the financial crisis of 2008 to question some fundamental assumptions about risk management and economic forecasting. No one with any meaningful role in economic decision making in the world saw beforehand the storm for what it was. How had our models so utterly failed us? To answer this question, Alan Greenspan embarked on a rigorous and far-reaching multiyear examination of how Homo economicus predicts the economic future, and how it can predict it better.

    PHIL says: "I profit from listening, and sometimes disagree"
    "I profit from listening, and sometimes disagree"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a wide-ranging tour of ideas and history that have been capturing Mr Greenspan's attention since he left the Fed, and he thereafter admitted before Congress as the Great Recession unfolded, that some big assumptions and models he was using hadn't worked. I like to listen to his mind working, as, for example, he loosely cobbles together an economic model in front of the reader, or walks through a stretch of history, lucidly pointing out big salient features of how we got here. Like many very smart people I know, he shows a gift sometimes for displaying (what seem to me glaring) gaps in his reasoning, or for ignoring a 900-pound factual gorilla looming in the situation. (This is the reputed libertarian Ayn Rand disciple who yet worked in and around government much of his adult life, openly disliked government's solutions, yet became arguably the most powerful individual inside government, whereupon he showered cheap credit into the banking system for a very extended period (meanwhile refusing to exercise his statutory powers to regulate various mortgage finance practices) as a vast unstable housing bubble heaved up and (soon enough after he left the job) collapsed into the worst mess since the Great Depression.) This wouldn't be the first time models worked well until they didn't. But, aside from some sidestepping perhaps, he intrepidly wrestles with some big questions. For example, he tackles why this recovery was seemingly this tepid and slow. I don't agree with all the answers he finds, but along this journey I find this book has helped me clarify and sharpen and update my own views and opinions. And for that, I give Mr Greespan credit and thanks. In that light, I think this work is a success.
    I've seen reviews that complain about the wide range of sub-topics. But all of them are interesting to me, and I like the way the guy describes things.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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