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Resources: Books that will enlighten and entertain you

Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up, William Poundstone, 2016.

True or false: “At the time of the 9/11 attacks, the World Trade Center contained a stockpile of gold in the basement.” True, reports Poundstone. “About $230 million worth of gold and silver bars was retrieved from a precious-metals depository underneath the center in the weeks after the attack.” In this interesting, lively read, Poundstone explores and analyzes what the public knows and doesn’t know. “The Internet isn’t making us stupid, but it can make us less aware of what we don’t know. Incomplete knowledge creates distorted mental maps of the world.” Poundstone reports on survey results that individuals who have more general knowledge — know more facts, if you will — earn more income and enjoy more happiness. “There is a real-world value to knowing things …Those with broad knowledge are less likely to make horrifically bad decisions because they overlooked something and more able to articulate what it is they don’t know.”

The Ivy Portfolio: How to Invest Like the Top Endowments and Avoid Bear Markets, Mebane T. Faber and Eric W. Richardson, 2009.

This book takes you behind the success of the two largest endowments: Yale University and Harvard University. These endowments have grown even during market downturns, including 2008. Institutional investors seek returns just as individual investors do. For example, Harvard was once the largest institutional timber owner in the world. Harvard liked timber because it offered stable returns and a hedge against inflation. Until the 1990s, according to the authors, “most timber assets were held by large conglomerates that did a poor job of managing the assets effectively … Harvard attempts to manage the forests more efficiently.” Individual investors typically can’t buy a forest. But the authors explain how the average investor can take advantage of the benefits of investing in timber through exchange-traded funds.

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, 2012.

The authors begin their introductory notes: “Abundance is a tale of good news. At its core, this book examines the hard facts, the science and engineering, the social trends and economic forces that are rapidly transforming our world.” This description sounds like the book would be overly technical. It is not. Instead, it is a fascinating read about exciting ways scientists, entrepreneurs, and even DIYers are solving serious problems in our world: lack of water, poor sanitation, high cost of energy, limited health care resources, and so on. You’ll meet a physicist in India whose office was next to an urban slum. He discovered children who had never seen a computer and didn’t speak English could learn by experimenting with a tablet computer connected to the Internet with coaching by not teachers but grandmothers (he called it the “granny cloud”). You’ll meet a doctoral student experimenting with various materials. He discovered that Scotch tape doesn’t just release visible light, it also releases X-rays. This led to teaming with an entrepreneur to produce the world’s smallest and cheapest X-ray machine. The key component of this machine costs less than $1. You’ll learn how incentive prizes have spurred advances. Charles Lindbergh won an incentive prize for his transatlantic flight. “The greatest tool,” the authors conclude, “we have for tackling our grand challenges is the human mind.”

Money: Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, Tony Robbins, 2014.

One of the biggest mistakes when saving and investing for retirement is thinking that you need a large sum of money to begin, says Tony Robbins, a bestselling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist. You don’t. Robbins tells the story of a UPS employee who never made more than $14,000 a year, but invested 20% of every paycheck into company stock. That investment soared to more than $70 million by the time he was 90 years old. From his research and interviews with more than 50 top financial experts including Warren Buffett, Steve Forbes, T. Boone Pickens and Charles Schwab, Robbins devised seven steps to financial freedom. Step 1: Make the decision to become an investor, not a consumer. “You don’t want to own an Apple phone; you want to own Apple.”

Finding Religion Among the Rapids, Dorsey, Wright & Associates and Judd Biasiotto, PhD, 2005.

Investing has risks. But just as in life, thinking counter-intuitively will keep you afloat among the choppy waters. These easy-to-read vignettes offer insights into navigating the rapidly changing financial markets and managing risk when you invest.

Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse, Thomas E. Woods, Jr., 2009.

The real causes behind the collapse of housing values and the stock market in 2008 reside in Washington, not Wall Street. Woods points out that “Almost nobody in Washington, and precious few elsewhere, has been willing to question the single greatest government intervention in the economy, and the institution whose fingerprints are all over our current mess: America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve System.” Woods offers a layman’s overview of where the economy is and what should be done next.

Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, Nicholas Shaxson, 2011.

More than half of world trade and most international lending are processed through tax havens. They’re part of nearly every major economic event and in every financial crisis since the 1970s. Great Britain and the United States are the world’s two most important tax havens. Tax havens are the most important single reason why poor people and poor countries stay poor. Discover how all this happened.

Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism, Harm de Blij, 2005.

Distinguished professor of geography at Michigan State University and former geography editor on ABC’s Good Morning America, Blij argues that “geographic literacy is a matter of national security … Geographic insights can be crucial in addressing geopolitical problems; they are needed also in decision making in spheres ranging from the cultural to the economic.” Delve into issues to discuss during water-cooler and dinner-table

The Way the World Works, Jude Wanniski, 1998.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Economic truth is a lever that can move governments, move history … The economic model that we’ve created truly has become what Jude Wanniski describes as ‘The Way The World Works.’”A self-taught economic guru and former The Wall Street Journal editor, Wanniski began to mentor Jack Kemp, an unknown Republican U.S. congressman from Buffalo, New York, in economics in 1976. Kemp rose to such influence within the Republican Party that Reagan aides worried Kemp would challenge Reagan for the 1980 presidential nomination. To prevent this, the Reagan campaign endorsed the Kemp–Roth tax reduction, which became “the economic keystone” of his presidency. Find out why Reagan’s economic policy worked and led to the longest bull market in Wall Street history. Don’t miss the concept of two “Santas.”

Forget the Pie! Recipe for a Healthier 401(k), Ric Lager, 2006.

Lager wrote this 135-page book for anyone who has or will have a retirement account. He delivers on his promise to explore “third-party and unbiased stock market risk-management tools.” Tom uses these risk management tools to determine where to invest clients’ money every day. Read this book to understand — in nontechnical terms — point and figure charting, which logically looks at the daily buying and selling interest in any particular stock. You’ll also come to understand the other tools used by Tom on behalf of his clients.

Point & Figure Charting: The Essential Application for Forecasting and Tracking Market Prices, Thomas Dorsey, 2001.

This is the first book since Economics 101 class that actually provides the tools to measure supply and demand. Feels as if you have a ruler to measure, rather than using guesswork.

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator Illustrated Edition, Edwin Lefevre, 2005.

A fictionalized biography of Jesse Livermore, one of our country’s greatest speculators. Livermore made and lost tens of millions of dollars playing the stock and commodities markets during the early 1900s. His ideas still hold true today.

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, George Friedman, 2010.

Gives you a framework to look at the geopolitical world. You’ll better understand why events occur.

What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell, 2009.

A master storyteller, Gladwell will open your eyes to thinking about our world in ways you never considered before.