The best books , articles , gurus etc you have come across that can actually integrate most or much of the information out there, for investing purposes and for separating the signals from the noise.
January 15, 2009 10:52 AM   Subscribe

The best books , articles , gurus etc you have come across that can actually integrate most or much of the information out there, for investing purposes and for separating the signals from the noise.

We are drowning in information overload. Too much noise is drowning out the signals that can be useful.

One of the best books I have recently come across that have helped me separate the noise from the signals include:

* The either/or investor : how to succeed in global investing, one decision at a time / Clark Winter.
Publication Info. New York : Random House, c2008.

* Another book that you might find helpful is "Real World Economic Outlook 2003" edited by Ann Pettifor. But it has different authors and not integrative enough.

Do you know of any other books , authors , bloggers, columnists, magazines, radio shows, tv shows, courses , seminars that can integrate most of the data points in the real world and help an investor separate the signals from the noise?

So that I am NOT behind the curve like most central bankers and economists and financial journalists?

This is actually NOT a question about who might be right about where the economy is going. This is about finding writers and commentators who can connect the dots better than most and are ahead of the curve in terms of the current financial crisis and who can also give an integrated picture overview of the financial world so that I don't waste time listening to noise making machines the likes of Jim Cramer on CNBC.

Thanks a million.
posted by cluelessguru to Education (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What signals? What noise? What exactly are you trying to integrate? From the way you ask your question, it seems like you're looking for someone who has a holistic take on "the economy," not someone who integrates history, philosophy, sociology, theology, economics, etc.

Frankly, if you're serious about investing, you probably need to know those "other" things too. The ongoing financial crisis suggests to me and others not only that hey, we hit a snag in the business cycle, but that very fundamental ways of understanding the way the world works are dead wrong. And to figure out what's right, you're going to need more than just a tweak to your silly economic model. You're going to need to change the way you think about what "value" and "wealth" really are.

From this way of thinking, all the books you've mentioned here are complete noise. You want to get the real goods you need to read serious academic works, not journalistic, pop bulls*it.
posted by valkyryn at 11:21 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you very much for answering.

Right now , I would define noise as those made by people who were behind the curve when this financial crisis in 2008 hit.

What exactly am I trying to integrate? I am trying to find out what I did not know I did not know.

I am looking for people or writing that can actually simplify complex subject of the financial world rather than adding to the confusion.

People who in the last few years actually had some idea why the crisis of 2008 was going to hit us.

People who actually connected a lot of the dots (signals) in the past few years and can show simple people like me an integrative picture of the new financial paradigm that is still playing itself out or revealing itself.

How about an integrative picture connecting dots such as the Minsky Moment and Taleb's Black Swans?

Is that too much to ask?

By the way, check out the two books I mentioned before you call them noise. Otherwise, you are also behind the curve because you have no idea what you are missing.
posted by cluelessguru at 2:26 PM on January 15, 2009

It sounds to me like you went to/are going to business school, because the names you're dropping here are, no offense, intellectual lightweights. Most people in the busienss world are. Sure, they get a lot of press, they're in significant positions of influence, and they make skads of money, but none of them are doing serious, in-depth research or anything remotely approximating it. You're really not looking in the right place for the kinds of answers you want by sticking to businesspeople like Winter and Pettifor. Ask a "real" economist doing "real" research or you're just gonna get smoke blown up your ass.

Thing is though, the people that are doing serious research are basically admitting that they have no idea what's going on. The financial crash of late 2008 largely blindsided the orthodox economic establishment. Yeah, people though the housing bubble would burst at some point, and yeah, people knew that would be bad, but the systemic, even pandemic evaporation of available credit was completely unpredicted. Almost everyone is, as you say, "behind the curve."

Let me give you a name though: Philip Mirowski. Check his CV. That's the kind of stuff you need to be reading if you want a serious understanding of what's going on here.
posted by valkyryn at 2:42 PM on January 15, 2009

I haven't read the Minsky Moment, but I have read The Black Swan. I don't know that I'd call that book an "integrative picture". . .to me, the whole point of the book is that much in life (in this specific case, the market) is driven by completely unpredictable events. Taleb seems amused when people ask him how to predict Black Swans because the whole point is that they are unpredictable. He also takes huge swipes at people who try to "model" the market because those models are hugely vulnerable to events outside our expectation.

Even if you do find people who "predicted" the current crisis, be careful about making them your mentors. At any given time you're bound to find people who say "the sky is falling" as well as those who say it is all smooth sailing ahead. If everyone's saying something different, someone's bound to be right just by pure chance, but that doesn't mean that they have deep insight into the market.

I would say that if you really want to avoid being "behind the curve" of economists, investment bankers, etc, then, well, you need to become a professional economist or investment banker. These are people who eat and breathe this stuff 24/7. Be aware, though, that even these professionals have a fairly mixed record of "beating the market" as a whole.
posted by sherlockt at 2:44 PM on January 15, 2009

What are you even saying? Your two posts are fairly incomprehensible to me. Are you asking for who saw the signs that a crisis was coming before it happened? If so this previous Ask MeFi thread may be useful.
posted by losvedir at 2:56 PM on January 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you very much for suggesting Philip Mirowski. I am going to check him out.

Intellectual lightweight or not , if most of the economists and financial journalists and regulators are half as good as Ann Pettifor and her cohorts, we would not have been this deep in the financial deep hole right now.

losvedir, I don't know how to ask my questions better.

Basically , I am looking for an explanantion of the new financial paradigm that is still playing itself out.

Things I did not know existed. May be an alternative economic theory that can connect more dots than what Minsky , Taleb, Keynes, Friedman have come up with so far.

Or something that can kind of integrate all of them .
posted by cluelessguru at 3:17 PM on January 15, 2009

Unfortunately, I think the best economic theory you're going to discover is that there is no single theory than can explain everything. Economics isn't a science. Its "predictions" aren't even in the same ballpark as, say, Newtonian physics. Yeah, Newtonian physics has recently been shown to break down at the edges, but it remains a very useful tool for predicting the movement of gross objects under terrestrial conditions. Economics can't even claim to have come up with anything that approximates that.

And the problem is not that there's simply too much data to integrate. The socialist calculation controversy which roiled the discipline of economics in the 1930s-50s was resolved pretty conclusively in favor of those who argued that we cannot possibly integrate all the data in such a way as will enable us to predict and manage the economy. Read Don Lavoie's Rivalry and Central Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Reconsidered for a detailed discussion there.

Pettifor, as far as I can tell, isn't actually on to anything that profound. Of course debt is bad. Moral philosophers have known that for a few thousand years. What's surprising is not that we're in the midst of a debt-related financial crisis but that we ever thought that leveraging ourselves up to 30:1 could possibly be a good idea.
posted by valkyryn at 11:34 AM on January 16, 2009

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