Darks Pools

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This is a flawed book — overwritten, under-edited, and devoid of any real analysis or critical perspective. Nevertheless, it is a quick and easy read, and it tells the story of the transformation of the equity markets by modern technology — the rise of the ECNs, and the emergence of high frequency traders. (It has almost nothing to do with “dark pools” by the way; it is mainly about high frequency trading.)

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Ahead of the Curve

This is an account of one student’s experience of going through the Harvard MBA program, written by a former (and current) editor at the Financial Times. It is not unflawed, but is nevertheless highly readable and generally fascinating. I recommend it for anyone thinking about ever pursuing an MBA degree.

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A New Brand World

I have a limited tolerance for “business books” in general, and marketing books in particular – but this is an exception. It is admittedly rather too breezy, and prone to sloganeering  – but the author has real substantive experience as the advertising executive (in-house) responsible for (1) Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, and (2) the break-out of the Starbucks brand into the true mass-market. His insights, while disorganized and of sometimes mixed quality, are generally useful, and his ideas about Brand – a premier Franchise Asset – influenced my thinking more than any other book on the subject I have read so far.

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Ahead of the Curve

This is a very good presentation of the basics of business cycle analysis, using fundamental economic indicators. Very easy to read, and provides a more thematic and focused viewpoint than the Baumohl and Constable/Wright books described below. A supplementary text for QF 102.

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Secrets of Economic Indicators

This is a more comprehensive survey of the major economic indicators that move the financial markets. It is very good, and provides in effect a topical survey of many of the major macro-economic concepts and principles along the way (e.g., theories of the causes of inflation, the interpretation of yield curves, the role of productivity in job creation).

I will probably be using this book as a required text in QF 102 next Spring, and as a supplementary text in BT 401 in the Fall.

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War at the Wall Street Journal

This highly readable book combines several intriguing narratives – it is simultaneously an insider’s history of the Wall Street Journal and how it has operated over the years; a dramatic struggle by Rupert Murdoch to acquire the paper from a heterogeneous and contentious family of shareholders; and a profile of Murdoch himself in action (he is certainly one of the great “moguls” of our day). From a pedagogical standpoint, it is a classic M&A case study, vivid and fascinating. The author is generally disciplined and tells an honest story (spoiling it only with a tendentious and unconvincing final chapter carping about Murdoch’s politics).

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WSJ Guide to 50 Economic Indicators That Really Matter

This is a breezy but useful survey of a diverse selection of economic indicators, focused mainly on the business cycle (predicting recessions & recoveries), and on inflation. It is not a deep treatment of these issues, but a practical discussion of what sorts of metrics are available to help keep track of these changes in market regime.

This is an assigned supplementary text for Quantitative Finance 102.

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