Book Bits For Memorial Day Weekend

● Trading at the Speed of Light: How Ultrafast Algorithms Are Transforming Financial Markets
Donald MacKenzie
Summary via publisher (Princeton U. Press)
In today’s financial markets, trading floors on which brokers buy and sell shares face-to-face have increasingly been replaced by lightning-fast electronic systems that use algorithms to execute astounding volumes of transactions. Trading at the Speed of Light tells the story of this epic transformation. Donald MacKenzie shows how in the 1990s, in what were then the disreputable margins of the US financial system, a new approach to trading—automated high-frequency trading or HFT—began and then spread throughout the world. HFT has brought new efficiency to global trading, but has also created an unrelenting race for speed, leading to a systematic, subterranean battle among HFT algorithms.

● Value(s): Building a Better World for All
Mark Carney
Review via Reuters
In “Value(s): Building a Better World For All” the former Goldman Sachs banker who went on to lead two major central banks dissects a trio of global crises to show all that market prices can fail to capture, to society’s detriment. He starts with an overview of economic history that traces how social and political priorities gradually became subsumed by the market. As Carney puts it, the “price of everything is becoming the value of everything”. This lays the foundations for a scathing critique of how policymakers and society can be led astray by excessive faith in the ability of markets to price risks accurately and deliver the best outcomes.

● Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell
Jason L Riley
Interview with author via
“I was still a Marxist after taking Milton Friedman’s course [at the University of Chicago],” says free market economist and social critic Thomas Sowell. “One summer in the government was enough to let me say government is really not the answer.” Known for provocative and best-selling books such as Knowledge and Decisions, A Conflict of Visions, and last year’s Charter Schools and Their Enemies, the internationally renowned scholar is the subject of a new documentary and biography, both authored by Jason L. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Wall Street Journal columnist. Beyond the breadth and depth of his interests, what sets Sowell apart is that he “puts truth above popularity and doesn’t concern himself with being politically correct,” Riley tells Reason’s Nick Gillespie. “It’s an adherence to empiricism, to facts and logic and putting that ahead of theory. [Sowell] is much more interested in how an idea has panned out…rather than simply what the intent is.”

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Disclosures: None.

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