Tuesday 19 December 2017 by Guest Contributor At FIIG

End of year reading list and reviews – Christmas edition

The FIIG staff and clients share their favourite financial or other reads for 2017


Biggs on Finance, Economics and the Stock Market by Barton Biggs

biggs5 stars

The book: RP - $63.95
, published 2014. “We forget that Mr. Market is an ingenious sadist, and that he delights in torturing us in different ways” – Barton Biggs. What happens when a former budding poet, with an insatiable intellectual curiosity, and vociferous appetite for reading decides to become a money manager? The Answer? Barton Biggs.

The review: Biggs on Finance, Economics and the Stock Market, published in 2014, is a thoroughly enjoyable 5-star read. The book is a collection of commentaries from the late Morgan Stanley money manager, which span two decades from 1980–2000. Light-hearted, witty, and insightful, Biggs outlines the chronicles of ‘Mr. Market’; an ingenious sadist who plays on the hearts and emotions of sophisticated and unsophisticated investors. For AUD $63.95, this is a must read for any literary buff, casual investor or professional money manager – Francis Odong, Assistant – Fixed Income, Market and Sales

Signals: how everyday signs can help us navigate the world’s turbulent economy by Dr Pippa Malmgren

signals4 stars

The book: RP - $16.20, published 2016.
Economic signals are everywhere, from fashion magazine covers to grocery stores to military events. Malmgren empowers the public by revealing the story of the world economy in plain English.

The review: This book does a great job at breaking down complex economic signals into simple English, and contextualising these signals with contemporary events. The book starts at a micro level on rising living cost, goods and services, which affect everyday people. It gradually moves to more macro views on the rise of the emerging markets, political pressure in the Middle East, the role of the central bank at controlling inflation, and technological innovations. This should be a good book for readers without an economic background. A 4/5 stars from me – Christopher Ip, Business Development Executive

Shoe Dog, A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight 

shoedog5 stars

The book: RP - $35.00, published 2016. 
In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game changing, and profitable brands.

The reviews:

Certainly not investment related but it is a cracking read from a very interesting person, and a story about how NIKE started out. One of the best reads I have had in a long time – John Prickett, Chief Operations Officer

This is the true story behind the emergence of Nike. It is a great story on the importance of cashflow in a business, determination and integrity. This book is a plain, simple and easy read with fascinating insights into the creation of one of the biggest global brands today. I give it a 5 star rating – Adrian Dixon, Consultant for One FIIG

The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David Enrich 

spider5 stars

The book:
RP - $35.00, published 2017.  

The review: An examination of the scandal surrounding the manipulation of LIBOR, the players involved, and the genius trader who was made scapegoat. This book is incredibly well written by the financial editor for the New York Times. It is recommended background reading for anyone following the current cases with Australia's big four banks and their alleged manipulation of BBSW. I give this book a 5/5 – George Whittle, Senior Portfolio Strategy Coordinator


Hillbilly Elegy: A memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance

hillbilly4.5 stars

The book: RP - $24.99,
published 2016.

The review: An autobiography that many claim explains how Trump came to ascend the presidency. In parts, laugh out loud funny and others moving to tears.  Vance explains his disruptive childhood, support of his hillbilly grandparents with their own beliefs of right, wrong and punishment. The story explains poverty, disadvantage, childhood abuse and trauma and loss of the American dream – Liz Moran, Director of Education and Research

by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

freak4 stars

The book: RP - $33.99, published 2005. 
“Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter?”

The review: You can find out the answers to these questions and more if you read Freakonomics.  This highly entertaining read relates behavioural economics to the real world, with a distinct American flavour.  The theories cover a wide range of topics including real estate agents, sumo wrestlers, gun controls and criminality.   The common theme throughout is the power of incentives.   A little more interesting than the Economics I studied all those years ago.  Perhaps even interesting enough to fill a lecture hall on a Friday!  I give this book a 4/5. Also, look out for “SuperFreakonomics” and “Think Like a Freak”, also by Levitt and Dubner – Angela Sheehy, Operational SME OneFIIG

Fed up – An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America by Danielle DiMartino Booth 

fedup4.5 stars

The book: RP - $47.62, published 2017.

The review: This is an insider’s view of the U.S. Federal Reserve by someone who spent nine years working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.  The following is a quote from the fly leaf cover, “She was shocked to discover just how much tunnel vision, arrogance, liberal dogma, and abuse of power drove the core policies of the Fed.” The book is dedicated to every hardworking American who wakes up in the morning asking themselves what went wrong – Walter Teeland, FIIG client

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics
by Richard H Thaler

misbehaving4.5 stars

The book: RP - $15.00,
published 2015.

The review: Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics this year for his work in behavioural economics. In this book, he walks through how his research evolved from writing down a list of examples where humans acted less than perfectly rationally, to the application of psychological theory to rework classical economics. Thaler’s writing style is casual and entertaining, and there are many parallels between the anomalies he identifies and how we see real life humans trading fixed income – George Whittle, Senior Portfolio Strategy Coordinator


The Undoing Project
by Michael Lewis

undoing4 stars

The book: RP- $28.95, published 2016
 - The Undoing Project is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures.

The review: The life, theory and friendship of Nobel Prize-winning psychologists Daniel Kahnman and Amos Tversky is cleverly explored in Michael Lewis’s non-fiction book “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds”. Kahnman and Tversky earned acclaim for their studies undoing assumptions about the decision-making process, and shaped the way for behavioural economics.  Their studies led to a new approach to government regulation and was used in the drafting of sports players. The story of their work is weaved through their heroic (and dangerous) careers in the Israeli military.  You will no doubt finish this book uplifted by the talent and strength of these two individual, however feeling slightly inadequate with your own life achievements! – Jessica Rusit, Director AUD Facilitation

How to be a Super Smart Woman: New Strategies for Superannuation
by Pauline Taylor 

supersmartThe book: RP- $29.95, published 2017.

The review: I am a customer of FIIG's Managed Investment Portfolio Service. Having conducted many seminars for women on retirement planning and superannuation I saw a need for an easy to read guide for women to help them to better understand and manage their finance. This book provides in a very easy to use and accessible way, all the information needed to make Australia’s superannuation system work for any Australian woman. It is in three sections. The first provides an easy to understand guide to the terms and structures of the superannuation system.The middle section contains a chapter for every decade of women's working life from their teens and twenties to their seventies. In this section, the best strategies for maximising and growing super at that particular stage in life and according to varying circumstances are explained in depth. The third section has chapters that explore in detail specific areas on superannuation particularly relevant to women. These include issues after the breakdown of a relationship, superannuation for single women, information about insurance and access to superannuation – Pauline Taylor, Finance and Economics Consultant, FIIG Client

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

alice4.5 stars

The book: RP - $21.99, published 2007.

The review: Still Alice is a gripping read for anyone who has been exposed to a sick relative or anyone suffering Alzheimer’s or Dementia. It deals with the gradual decline of a highly intelligent Harvard lecturer, and bears witness to so much family dynamics and politics. Although at times sad, it is very real and has been a source of great comfort to many of us who sometimes feel these types of diseases are not well understood. I am forever in the debt of the lady who recommended this to me, and hope others find solace in this too. This book helped me realise that ‘health is wealth, both mental and physical’ – Leigh Winton, Head of Portfolio Strategies

More Money than God – Hedge Funds and the making of a new elite
by Sebastian Mallaby

moneythangod4.5 stars

The book: RP - $27.99,
published 2010.

The review: Just a fascinating insight into how the ‘titans’ of modern investing made their money and how they identify and execute on trading opportunities.  Anyone who invests their own, or someone else’s, money should read this, if for nothing else other than it is also very well written and very entertaining -  Jon Sheridan, NSW State Manager



The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape

barefoot5 stars

The book: RP - $19.95, updated 2017.

The review: A perfect late Christmas present for people in your family learning to manage their money.  Pape begins by losing everything and it’s devastating to read about his loss upfront, but that sets his audience on a journey, imagining our own financial disasters and how to recover from them.

Pape is a realist and sets out how to pay down debt, reduce the costs of borrowing, insurance, superannuation while rewarding investors along the way. There are a number of case studies from people who have followed Pape’s path which were interesting – Liz Moran, Director of Education and Research

Intercept – the history of computers and spies by Gordon Corera

intercept5 stars

The book: RP - $22.99, published 2015. 

The review: For those of us who have lived through the computer to the digital age, it’s a cracker. How large organisations and governments left themselves open to third parties helping themselves to massive amounts of information: political, military and commercial. The rise of Russia and China as hacking powers, although they don’t work on public holidays. Not a trench coat or minox camera in sight. I gave it 5 stars. Happy reading – Peter Smith, FIIG Client


Red Notice
by Bill Browder

rednotice4.5 stars

The book: RP – $24.99,
published 2015.

The review: This is a true story about an accidental activist. Bill Browder started out his adult life as the Wall Street maverick whose instincts led him to Russia just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, where he made his fortune investing in grossly mispriced Russian companies through his first of a kind emerging markets hedge fund.

Along the way, he exposed corruption and when he did, he barely escaped with his life. His Russian lawyer wasn’t so lucky: who ended up in jail, where he was tortured to death. That changed Browder forever. He saw the murderous heart of the Putin regime and has spent the last half decade on a campaign to expose it. Because of that, he became Putin’s number one enemy, especially after Browder succeeded in having a law (Magnitsky Act) passed in the United States that punishes a list of Russians implicated in the lawyer’s murder. Putin famously retaliated with a law that bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans – Sam Hunter, Associate Director, Facilitation 

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon 

bone4 stars

The book: RP - $29.99,
published 2013.

The review: The first novel from a new young English writer shows a bit of naïveté at times (and is a bit YA) but the world she creates is so original and rich that I was captured by the concept and the characters almost immediately.  Forget the comparison with JK Rowling – there is a huge long way to go until then – but as the start of a series I will be looking forward to each new book that arrives.  The second one (The Mime Order) is better than the first… -  Jon Sheridan, NSW State Manager


Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

pride4 stars

The book: RP - $9.99, published 1813.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife Jane Austen

The review: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is arguably the most influential financial narrative for women in the modern era so it is my pick for best holiday read for 2018. A man is not a plan! – Bronwyn Delaney, Intermediary Marketing