Understanding Financial Crises, by Gary Gorton. Thoughtful, provocative counter-intuitive explanation of the financial crisis and its predecessors, focusing on the creation of money, the trust it engenders, and what happens when that trust is broken.
The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides. A love triangle set in the early 1980s mostly around Brown University in Providence – wonderfully written, funny.
China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua. The writer profiles his country through ten words with special significance for Chinese culture and society. His stories are poignant, funny, and often searing.
Poor Economics, by Abhijt Banerjee and Esther Duflo. The authors have spent their careers using randomized control trials to see which development theories actually work in practice, looking at the best way to get people to use mosquito nets, look after their health, and save money. Countless eye opening stories, e.g. why hungry people spend new money on TV instead of food, and why local money lenders are more effective than banks despite their higher costs.
Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. By Ian Bremmer. A political scientist ponders how the world will manage without a single country or countries in charge. Flimsily written, insubstantial collection of statements of the obvious serving mainly to let the author repeat ”G-zero” ad nauseam.
Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, by Sylvia Nasar. Deeply researched and entertaining history of some of the most important thinkers in economics. Long on colour, short on theory. (I did not manage to finish this.)
Lombard Street: A description of the money market, by Walter Bagehot. Written in 1871, Lombard Street is the classic work describing how a central bank must be lender of last resort to halt panics. Bagehot perfectly captures the immense potential of the financial markets to both multiply a nation’s economic prowess and to spread chaos. As he puts it: ““Money will not manage itself, and Lombard Street has a great deal of money to manage.”
Borderless Economics, by my colleague Robert Guest, our Business Editor. An exploration into how immigrant networks are fueling global economic growth (and some less savory things, like terrorism). Interspersed with personal tales of travel in countless countries.
The Price of Civilization, by Jeffrey Sachs. A hard-hitting indictment of how America’s political system has tilted the economy in favor of the wealthy and corporations. Read our review here.
Fault Lines, by Raghuram Rajan; excellent analysis of the causes of the crisis and a call for austerity in its wake
This Time Is Different, by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff; heavily quantitative history of financial crises, the foundation from which much academic work on the subject is now being built
Globalization, by Harold James; intriguing observations on economic history and the parallels between the 1930s and the present
The Lords of Finance, by Liaquat Ahamed; a gripping and rewarding reconstruction of how central bankers’ hubris, mistakes and flawed personalities brought on the Great Depression
All the Devils are Here, by Bethany McLean and Joseph Nocera; meticulous, journalistic reconstruction of the historical developments preceding the crisis
Exorbitant Privilege, by Barry Eichengreen: a whirlwind history of international monetary systems and the role of the dollar, with lots of speculation on the future of both
In Fed We Trust, by David Wessel; the extraordinary steps the Fed took to contain the financial crisis of 2008-09, by my former colleague at The Wall Street Journal
The Great Stagnation, by Tyler Cowen; he argues that the era of great advancement in prosperity is over. Tightly argued and succinct.
Advantage, by Adam Segal; interesting analysis of how Asia, especially India and China, are trying to catch up technologically to the United States, and reasons why the U.S. should, and shouldn’t, be worried
Triumph of the City, by Edward Glaeser; the urban economist’s life’s work boiled down into a fascinating celebration of how cities make us richer, smarter, healthier and less polluting
You Are What You Speak, by Robert Lane Greene; entertaining and provocative look at language and what it says, and doesn’t say, about us and our culture, by my colleague at The Economist
More Money Than God, by Sebastian Mallaby; a history of hedge funds packed with wonderful anecdotes and profiles
The Big Burn, by Timothy Egan; The early forest service, a huge fire in xxx and Theodore Roosevelt’s campaign to preserve nature
Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind; interesting inside look at Obama’s White House but flawed by numerous errors and misconceptions
The Party, by Richard McGregor; inside look at the Communist Party of China, by the FT’s former Beijing bureau chief, now based here in Washington
The Foremost Good Fortune: Susan Conley; her memoir of two years as an expat in Beijing.
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Open, by Andre Agassi