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Finance and the Good Society [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Robert J. Shiller

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29. Februar 2012
The reputation of the financial industry could hardly be worse than it is today in the painful aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. "New York Times" best-selling economist Robert Shiller is no apologist for the sins of finance - he is probably the only person to have predicted both the stock market bubble of 2000 and the real estate bubble that led up to the subprime mortgage meltdown. But in this important and timely book, Shiller argues that, rather than condemning finance, we need to reclaim it for the common good. He makes a powerful case for recognizing that finance, far from being a parasite on society, is one of the most powerful tools we have for solving our common problems and increasing the general well-being. We need more financial innovation - not less - and finance should play a larger role in helping society achieve its goals. Challenging the public and its leaders to rethink finance and its role in society, Shiller argues that finance should be defined not merely as the manipulation of money or the management of risk but as the stewardship of society's assets. He explains how people in financial careers - from CEO, investment manager, and banker to insurer, lawyer, and regulator - can and do manage, protect, and increase these assets. He describes how finance has historically contributed to the good of society through inventions such as insurance, mortgages, savings accounts, and pensions, and argues that we need to envision new ways to rechannel financial creativity to benefit society as a whole. Ultimately, Shiller shows how society can once again harness the power of finance for the greater good.

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Finance and the Good Society + Irrational Exuberance + Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why it Matters for Global Capitalism
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Robert J. Shiller, Co-Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics Winner of the 2012 Business Book Award in Finance & Economics, 800-CEO-READ Winner of the 2012 PROSE Award in Business, Finance & Management, Association of American Publishers Winner of the 2013 Bronze Medal Book Award in Economics, Axiom Business One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012 Shortlisted for the 2012 Best Finance Books in China, Caijing Magazine "Reading his book is like wandering through an interesting garden... [T]he best passages in this book make a persuasive case for a fresh view of an industry that is too glibly demonized. The most promising way to promote the good society, Shiller says, is not to restrain finance but to release it."--Sebastian Mallaby, New York Times Book Review "[R]igorous... Shiller presents a helpful taxonomy, and is convincing in his defence of insurers, financial advisers, and (some) bankers. He is good at relating even some of the more obscure and complex trading strategies to real world problems ..."--Howard Davies, Times Literary Supplement "Shiller, professor of economics at Yale and author of the best-selling Irrational Exuberance, examines the future of finance in this timely new book. Recognizing the anger of many Americans--as evidenced in part by the rise of the Occupy movement--Shiller suggests that the way to fix our increasingly unequal society is through the 'democratization' and 'humanization' of finance." Online Review "Finance is in need of a little redemption. In his priestly new book, Finance and the Good Society, Mr. Shiller ... sets out to provide it. He argues convincingly that finance can, should and usually does make the world a better place... As an advocate for the financial system ... he is wonderfully persuasive because he never plays down the problems... Mr. Shiller reminds us of the profound importance of finance to making our society work."--Robin Harding, Financial Times "[S]hiller comes across as pragmatic as well as visionary, explaining how much financial capitalism has done for society and how much more it could do if harnessed for the common good."--James Pressley, Bloomberg News "[W]hile many have damned the finance industry for rampant self-interest and a tendency to prey on people's flawed thinking for its own benefit, Shiller wants to overhaul it to make sure finance serves the greater good. The key, he says, in his new book, Finance and the Good Society, is to democratize finance--giving the rest of us access to the tools and techniques that rich folks have used for decades to raise capital and protect themselves from risk."--Drew DeSilver, Seattle Times "[F]inance and the Good Society is so contrarian as to be shocking--all the more so because its author, Robert Shiller, is no head-in-the-sand capitalist nor a highly paid Wall Street shill... [A]t a time ... when fear is curbing financial innovation and the political climate could 'prevent financial capitalism from progressing in ways that could benefit all citizens,' Mr. Shiller's sensible message demands urgent attention."--Economist "Shiller has sought to prove what most of us were prepared to assume: finance may not be the great saviour that will create good society in the Utopian sense, but a society that truly seeks to be good will find in finance a willing partner that can help it achieve its goals. If you are looking for a social revolution, you will not find it in Finance and the Good Society but if you are planning a social revolution you should definitely read this book first."--Financial World "[D]eeply intelligent and elegantly argued."--BizEd "If Franois Hollande really believes finance is an enemy of society, he should read Robert J. Shiller."--Tim King, European Voice "What present would you give to the man who stands on the threshold of the elysee Palace--a man who has almost everything? A copy of Robert Shiller's Finance and the Good Society might be a timely present... [A] stimulating book ..."--European Voice "Extensively citing history, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science, the book convincingly calls for better fiscal education and claims that greater knowledge will lessen resentment and inequality, improve comprehension, and facilitate 'the good society.' An excellent resource for readers interested in understanding and improving financial capitalism."--Library Journal "Robert Shiller makes a bold but convincing plea to reform the present financial system and use its power for the benefit of society as a whole."--Arab News "Shiller has won a deserved reputation as being among the world's most prescient analysts of financial excesses. When he defends finance, we should pay attention."--Martin Wolf, Prospect "Shiller argues his case skilfully and persistently, and with a wealth of quirky and interesting examples."--Lord Skidelsky, Management Today "What is great about the book, and surprising I suppose, is that Dr. Shiller spends a great deal of time explaining why the practice of modern finance is mostly good... Honestly, it's worth the price of the book just to read an outstanding explanation of why Derivatives Providers, Financial Engineers, and Mortgage Securitizers aren't inherently evil... [T]his is an even-handed book that makes a distinction that has been rarely made in the post-crisis witch-hunt: Hate the sin, love the sinner. The people involved in finance are, in general, good people and the structures, in general, work well most of the time. Improvements can be made, and when the serial crises are over in a few years, hopefully we can discourse intelligently on these improvements. Dr. Shiller has made a good contribution to that discourse with this book."--Inflation Trader, SeekingAlpha "In Finance and the Good Society, the Yale economist comes to praise finance, not to bury it... After examining the often unappreciated value contributed by finance professionals, Shiller reminds us that finance has already helped build a better world through inventions like amortizing mortgages, and mutual funds."--CFO Magazine "Shiller, author of The Subprime Solution and Irrational Exuberance and an originator of the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, has written a timely, readable book, the product of teaching finance for 25 years. Unlike so many recent books stimulated by the financial disruptions that started in 2007, it does not vilify the current system of financial capitalism but instead attempts to inform readers... Judging from the book, Shiller's students are very fortunate."--Choice "Robert Shiller deserves much praise for trying to restore balance to public discussion of contemporary finance. His task is not easy, but he carries it off clearly, succinctly and with great hope for the possibilities of reformed finance. His focus on 'the good society' is absolutely correct: to build the better society that philosophers and social scientists have sought for ages, we badly need a financial system that works, not only for big business but for all of us."--Joel Campbell, International Affairs

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Robert J. Shiller is the author of Irrational Exuberance and The Subprime Solution, and the coauthor, with George A. Akerlof, of Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism (all Princeton). He is the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics at Yale University.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.4 von 5 Sternen  45 Rezensionen
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1.0 von 5 Sternen Dull and uninspired discussion of modern finance 5. Dezember 2012
Von Antonio - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm a fan of Shiller's other books such as Irrational Exuberance and Animal Spirits. However I was disappointed with this book.

The first half of the book discusses the major players in the modern financial system. I didn't really enjoy this part of the book as most moderately informed readers already know the various roles, and the discussions didn't really seem to have much point.

Some chapters such as the one on insurance had some somewhat bizarre comments. For example Shiller complained that the media made too big a deal about the gulf of mexico oil spill. According to him the spill wasn't really much of a problem since most people had insurance and got some compensation for their losses. I found these remarks insensitive and lacking insight.

The second half of the book was somewhat better although the chapters were uneven. Many of them appeared somewhat aimless and not really contributing to some sort of cohesive theme. He spends too much time making excuses for some of the problems with the modern financial system. I believe in capitalism and markets, but I think there is plenty of room for improvement.

In summary I was very disappointed with this book, I didn't enjoy reading it, and I found some of Shiller's arguments poorly considered.
13 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A balanced defense of finance in the modern economy 22. Mai 2012
Von DonL2507 - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
To many observers, particularly since the financial crisis of 2008, finance is a kind of rent-seeking bahavior equivalent to legal services in that it serves to redistribute wealth and not create wealth; the typical accusation is that it's involved with the buying and selling of things and not the making of things. Professor Shiller's latest book challenges these prejudices and ably discusses the critical role that finance, and all its many applications, performs in a modern, complex economy. His very definition of finance -- "the science of goal architecture", i.e., the structuring of economic arrangements to achieve given goals -- conveys its comprehensive role in our economy. Before the 1960s finance, particularly corporate finance, was largely accounting-oriented and rules-driven; since that time it's been a large and active branch of economics using the same sort of tools and analytical rigor.

Shiller breaks his book into two main parts: Part I discusses the roles and responsibilities of various participants in finance while the more interesting Part II covers some of the issues involved in finance that have received criticism like risk-taking, the use of leverage, and the costs of speculation. The overall argument is that strong, responsive and well-regulated financial institutions and well-developed and liquid financial markets are critical for an economy's success, and there's some macroeconomic research that links a strong financial infrastructure to greater economic growth. Finance provides the "lubricant" for the economy's smooth functioning; obviously, financial institutions and markets are required to transfer and price funds from "savings-surplus" economic units to "savings-deficit" economic units. The book is not particularly rigorous in its analysis of financial concepts and applications, but Professor Shiller strongly embraces a multidisciplinary approach to finance and often invokes research from psychology, sociology and neuroscience to illustrate their effect on financial behavior. The author has a socially liberal perspective and is often concerned with inequality in our economy. While he seems to hedge on whether finance contributes to that inequality, he has suggestions from finance itself for mitigating that inequality, e.g., derivatives on industry salary indexes, and fluctuating income tax rates based on the level of inequality in the economy. He's also a big believer in the historic "democratization of finance" (30-year mortgages, mutual funds, ESOPs) and he wants to see more of it in the future.

I think Shiller's defense of finance is largely compelling but I retain several reservations about his arguments for finance's role and contributions: (1) While the overlay of financial institutions and markets over the real economy may contribute to the real economy's growth, I'm concerned that finance also contributes to greater instability and asset bubbles. Shiller's more of a behavioral economist than an efficent markets proponent and has extensively researched the volatility of markets. In the late 1990s, if you could write a 5-page business plan you could get a $100 M high-yield debt issue done; in 2008-2009 if you had valuable collateral and good credit you might get an interview. Shiller himself says that business confidence is the major driving force of the economy and its "analogue" is credit conditions. (2) Since he's a finance professor, it's no surprise that he seems to believe that crafting financial contracts and designing new securities can solve almost all economic vicissitudes, and in furthering the "democratization of finance" he's got a host of ideas for new derivatives for the average person. One mild irritant in the book is that he asserts that cognitive errors caused by conservative biases are the reason why many new derivatives, including some of his own, have not been adopted. While I believe derivatives are a useful tool for risk management, creating a consistent index for new ones can be quite difficult. I write this while the august JPMorgan Chase is writing off $2 billion in derivative positions designed to hedge against slower economic growth because they proved too complex to manage. (3) While we've always needed speculators to provide needed liquidity in our financial markets, why does it appear that the speculators seem to take over markets (particularly derivative markets) from the risk-hedgers and exacerbate the volatility in those markets? I've read that 75% of the volume in the oil futures market is conducted by speculators. The professor doesn't seem to have an answer for this, except maybe to say that finance professionals, including his students, have an "impulse for risk taking".
43 von 54 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Finally, a finance book liberal arts majors can appreciate 2. April 2012
Von FY - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
First of all, I would like to comment on the ingeniousness of the title "Finance and the Good Society." For "finance" generally brings to mind a world of relentless profit-seeking, while Good Society recalls one that is abundant in comforts, altruism and beauty. No two worlds could have been more antithetical, and surely, it is in the latter that human civilization and its most glorious achievements- arts, literature, music, ideas- thrive. Robert J. Shiller undermines this perceived relationship between the two concepts by effectively arguing that good society in fact, owes a great deal to finance.

The book even goes into some much appreciated etymology, such as the Latin roots of finance to mean "goal". One of the many memorable statements Shiller made included "Finance is the science of goal architecture". People design instruments like mortgage-backed securities so that we can afford to buy homes and exchanges are created to reduce the transaction costs of over-the-counter deals. Of course, people profit from these creations, but this does not give us sufficient reason to discredit these instruments and the benefits they bring.

Perhaps what this book does best is exposing our myopia, and often negative bias, regarding finance. But who can blame us? Given the 2008 financial crisis and the downfall of MF Global, the word "finance" has acquired a very bad taste. Because of its arcane nature of the subject, most people would much rather embrace this bias instead of understanding the problem in its entirety. To do so requires examining the micro-structures of decision making of financial institutions- be it the incentives of market makers or the credit rating agencies. Indeed, finance is not a centralized "master mind", must less a coordinated evil force, under which all individual players are subsumed. Instead, it is the players- the men and women and the specific roles they play in the industry- that one must focus on. It is the cogs that run the machine and not vice versa, and Schiller makes this powerful point.

In his introduction, Shiller makes an astute comparison between financial innovation and mechanical innovation. According to him (and Google), the term "financial innovation" was not officially recognized until the 1970s, when the first financial patent was approved. This made me think of a line in the recent movie, Margin Call, when a main character lamented (not exact words), "I used to build railways...xxxx number of passengers used this railway every day. Now I am selling these instruments for the bank (the point is that he can no longer quantify the benefits he is creating by selling these instruments)." He is wrong, Shiller would tell us. Just because a futures contract is less tangible than a railway does not mean that it has no quantifiable benefits (Richard Sandor makes a good attempt at quantifying these benefits in his book Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation). More research should be done in this area, and Shiller has paved the path for us.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Friendly reminder of the role of finance but a little too forgiving of lapse of ethics 31. Mai 2012
Von A. Menon - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Finance and the Good Society is Shiller's most recent work on the state and role of finance in society. Given the economic climate and the time weve now had to reflect, the book is a good addition to literature of late, which has primarily been focused on causes with a sprinkle of literature suggesting solutions. Shiller takes a different perspective and analyses the role of finance in society in general and the fundamental need of financial capitalism for modern society. He splits the book into two parts Roles and Responsibilities which is focused on the roles of agents of finance and the political economy and Finance and its Discontents, which reviews the failings of finance and the agency problems that exist.

Roles and Responsibilities is probably what many readers believe the author is too idealistic on. He describes the benefits that financial actors bestow on the economy by doing their job well. For all who have read New Financial Order, much of the ideas are associated with the ideas first stated there. The author basically makes the case that finance allows us to structure our means to achieve larger longer term goals. Financial industries all have their niche in expertise to help create financial solutions that allow for long term planning and if done properly our ability to structure investment gives us the freedom to plan more intelligently.

Finance and its Discontents discusses much of what frustrates most people as well as recent financial economic issues of importance. He discusses the motives of those in finance, the credit cycle, the ethical issues that arise in short term arms length finance and financial speculation among other things. The author qualifies most issues as being self adjusting and evidence of misdeed by the few not by all. As such it is too dismissive of the failings of finance and agency problems associated with the industry.

All in all, finance and the good society was a well thought out and articulate book. It is perhaps a little idealistic, but the author ends with an important reminding lesson- that wealth is a function of a functioning credit system that allows individuals to be productive in an organized coordinated framework, the "wealth" in the absence of finance and from the spoils of war are basically negligible. Finance is needed and as much as there is injustice that has been uncovered, the system as a whole is definitely required. In terms of how forgiving the book is, it is too forgiving and there is much behavioural science experiments that show that when money is involved people lose creativity (the candlestick problem) and it impacts honesty. As such, putting in place financial solutions for financial actors that remove agency problems should perhaps be studied more by the experts themselves. All in all an enjoyable book, though perhaps with heightened emotions it will be championed or angrily dismissed by many right now.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Shiller is proposing radical solutions for the financial sector: more of the same 3. Februar 2013
Von Swede - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The book posits that the financial sector would become a more responsible animal if more information were distributed to more people and if more creative financial instruments were developed. More oversight is not needed. More simplicity is not needed. And certainly less leveraged risky derivatives are not needed.
This is a strange thesis and means that the financial sector should be given continued permission to increase its earnings rather than serve as access to capital for job creating investments.
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