In the most recent edition of the Wall Street Journal, the publication announced its top books of the year in both fiction and non-fiction categories (December 10-11, p. C-11).
In my review of the non-fiction selections, only one appears to be a business book. It is entitled The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon (Princeton University Press, 2016). I can conclude, therefore, that this is de facto, its best business book of the year.
My research uncovered that this was on the New York Times best-seller list, and in addition to appearing on the WSJ list, it also was:
#36 on Bloomberg’s “50 Most Influential” List
One of the Strategy+Business Best Business Books 2016 in Economy
Shortlisted for the 2016 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
Longlisted for the 2016 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, McGill University
Here is how it is summarized on Amazon.com:
“In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated. Gordon contends that the nation’s productivity growth will be further held back by the headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government, and that we must find new solutions. A critical voice in the most pressing debates of our time, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come.”
Who is Robert J. Gordon? From his speaker’s bureau listing, we learn: “Robert J. Gordon is one of the world’s most influential economists. He has attracted worldwide attention from academics, print media, and the blogosphere by his controversial analysis predicting that future economic growth in the U. S. will be a mere fraction of its historic rate. He was selected for the Politico 50, those shaping the political debate in 2016 and on Bloomberg’s Fifty Most Influential 2016 list. In 2013 he was selected one of Bloomberg’s Top 10 Most Influential Thinkers.”
We did not present this book in 2016 at the First Friday Book Synopsis, but will give it very strong consideration for one of our sessions in 2017.
As of this writing, it is still a very strong best-seller, as it is # 1 in three Business and Money books as tracked by Amazon.com categories, including Economic Development and Growth, Economic History, and Economic Conditions.
I say we are just insecure. Or uninformed. Or panicky. Or lots of things.
As a elixir, book readers are buying Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (Simon & Schuster, 2015) by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman.
Here is where the book stands on Amazon.com as I write this today:
- #3 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1 in Books > Business & Money > Taxation > Personal
- #1 in Books > Business & Money > Accounting
- #1 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Social Security
Laurence J. Kotlikoff is William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and a professor of economics at Boston University. He is also president of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company specializing in financial planning software. His company websites are ESPlanner.com and MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com. He is author or co-author of sixteen books, including Spend ‘Til the End and The Coming Generational Storm (both with Scott Burns). His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, The Economist, Huffington Post, and other major publications. He has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, governments around the world, and major U.S. corporations including Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, and AON. In addition, he has provided expert testimony on numerous occasions to committees of Congress. He lives in Boston.
Philip Moeller writes about retirement for Money magazine, the PBS website Making Sen$e, and other media outlets. He is also a research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, and the founder of Insure.com, a site for insurance information that has provided original insurance content to the Web’s leading business portals, including Microsoft, Yahoo, America Online, and MarketWatch. Formerly a contributing editor at U. S. News & World Report, he has spent forty years as an award-winning financial journalist, Internet entrepreneur, and corporate communications executive for a Fortune 500 financial services firm. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Paul Solman is the longtime business and economics correspondent for The PBS NewsHour. His many awards for work in business journalism include Emmys, Peabodys, and a Loeb award. He is also a Brady-Johnson Distinguished Practitioner at Yale University, where he teaches in the Grand Strategy course, as well as teaching at New Haven’s Gateway Community College. He has been a member of the Harvard Business School faculty and a visiting professor at his alma mater, Brandeis. Solman has written for numerous publications, from Forbes to Mother Jones, co-authored (with Thomas Friedman) Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield, and wrote the introduction to Morrie: In His Own Words, created entirely from interviews with his former Brandeis sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz (of “Tuesdays with Morrie” fame). He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
We won’t have this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, as we don’t include individual-based finance books in our monthly coverage.
But that doesn’t mean that plenty of our attendees will find this important to read. While they won’t identify themselves, I am sure we get some people who are insecure, uninformed, and panicky about their retirement years. Maybe they. and many others will find this book a great relief to that anxiety.
Here is one list of top books: the finalists for the “Business Book of the Year.” The Financial Times and Goldman Sachs oversee this particular award. Read about it here. This is from the Financial Times article:
Books that investigate and explain the financial crisis dominate the shortlist for the 2010 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.
The finalists are:
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar
The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
More Money than God by Sebastian Mallaby
Fault Lines by Raghuram Rajan
Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin
All but the first two tackle, directly or indirectly, some aspect of the crisis that hit the financial world in 2007-08 and whose impact is still being absorbed by global businesses and economies.
The Business Book of the Year will be announced on October 27 in New York.
Here are prior winners:
2009 – Liaquat Ahamed for The Lords of Finance
2008 – Mohamed El-Erian for When Markets Collide
2007 – William D. Cohan for The Last Tycoons
2006 – James Kynge for China Shakes the World
2005 – Thomas Friedman for The World is Flat
Read more about each of this year’s finalists here.
Note: I have presented synopsis of two of the book listed: The World is Flat and The Big Short. It looks like I have more reading to do!
Thanks to First Friday Book Synopsis participant Leslie Garner for alerting me to this.