Book Summaries: Personal Finance & Economics

Personal finance and economics books, summarised in one paragraph. Follow the links to see more detailed book notes and related articles from the blog.

Anatomy of the State - By Murray N. Rothbard

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Murray N. Rothbard was an economist from the Austrian School and is considered one of the leading figures of the libertarian movement of the 20th century. In Anatomy of the State, Rothbard sets out his views on the role of the State in societies, how the State preserves its power and transcends its limits, how States relate internationally, and the historical context of State power vs. social power. The central conclusion of this short text is that the State serves to seize wealth, distort incentives and monopolize the use of force, undermining the long-term prosperity of citizens.

The Deficit Myth - By Stephanie Kelton

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The Deficit Myth is an introduction to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), a controversial economic school of thought that is growing in popularity. It seeks to explain why for countries with monetary sovereignty the federal budget is fundamentally different to the household budget, and why deficits are generally good for the economy. Instead of focusing on self-imposed budget constraints, Kelton suggests we should instead use inflation and real resource limits as the measuring stick for public spending.

The Fourth Turning - By Neil Howe and William Strauss

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In The Fourth Turning, Neil Howe and William Strauss argue that history follows a clear and predictable cycle. Each cycle lasts around a lifetime and consists of four seasons (turnings), each marked by a profound shift in the national mood and culture. This lifecycle of four seasons is made inevitable by four generational archetypes and their order, which they argue has recurred throughout modernity. The book was written in 1997, at which point the authors suggested we were approaching the Fourth Turning: a lifechanging period of crisis that marks every saeculum.

How to Own the World - By Andrew Craig

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Since 2008, we have faced a paradigm shift in finance and economics. The rate of change is only likely to accelerate over the coming years. This book outlines Craig’s perspective on the optimal investment strategy to capitalise on these changes. Looking at some of the recent trends, Craig explains how any everyday investor can – and should – develop a portfolio of investments that seeks to “own the world” and “own inflation”.

Related Article: Hedging Chaos: The Case for Investing in Gold

Rich Dad Poor Dad - By Robert Kiyosaki

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Growing up, Robert Kiyosaki had a rich dad (his best friend’s dad) and a poor dad (his real dad). His poor dad did everything the way most of us are taught to do it. He got an education at university, he secured a stable, well-paid job, worked hard, got a mortgage, and so on. His rich dad, on the other hand, didn’t follow the usual path. He started small and focused on building income-generating assets, he used legal corporations to reduce his tax liability, he paid himself first. In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Kiyosaki outlines the key lessons he learnt from his rich dad so he could avoid his poor dad’s financial fate. The book has become one of the best-selling personal finance books in history.

The Richest Man in Babylon - By George S. Clason

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Written in 1926, The Richest Man in Babylon is a book of timeless personal finance principles, told in the form of short stories based on the “Babylonian parables”. At its height, Babylon was the wealthiest city in the world, which Clason attributes to the relationship its people had with money. The book uses stories of characters from Babylon to illustrate the importance of our relationship with money and the basic principles for acquiring, keeping and earning money.

Related Article: Compound Interest: When Your Gains Feed Your Gains

The Rise of the Robots - By Martin Ford

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Martin Ford sets out why he believes new technologies will ultimately push us towards a world economy that is less labour-intensive. Without the right policy response, Ford suggests we will confront a grave economic and human cost.

Related Article: Finally, the Open-Plan Office Is Dead (Almost)

The Road to Serfdom - By Friedrich Hayek

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The Road to Serfdom is the seminal work of Friedrich Hayek, a British-Austrian economist and philosopher regarded as one of the leading classical liberal thinkers of the 20th century. The book contends that socialist ideals can ultimately only be achieved by totalitarian means. Written during World War II, Hayek reflects on the patterns of socialism which led to Nazism, the illusion of democratic socialism and how early signs in other parts of the western world warned at a similar trajectory.

Related Article: Why Financial Independence Is More Important Than Ever

Think and Grow Rich - By Napoleon Hill

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First published during the Great Depression in 1937, Think and Grow Rich is considered a classic in the field of personal development and self-improvement. The book is not exclusively about personal finance. Instead, its central focus is 13 principles which Hill believed were the key to the accumulation of riches and success in any field.