Social. Political. Economic. Career| Seyed Ibrahim

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The Global Thinkers Book Club, and My Comments

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An article from Foreign Policy lists the top 2010 books read by global elite. It turns out some of these are good for us, the common man. The mere mortals too can benefit. Here is the URL

My Comments on a few books:

1. I liked some points mentioned from “The Upside of Irrationality”. It says

I hope you also recognize the upside of irrationality — that some of the ways in which we are irrational are also what makes us wonderfully human (our ability to find meaning in work, our ability to fall in love with our creations and ideas, our willingness to trust others, our ability to adapt to new circumstances, our ability to care about others, and so on). Looking at irrationality from this perspective suggests that rather than strive for perfect rationality, we need to appreciate those imperfections that benefit us, recognize the ones we would like to overcome, and design the world around us in a way that takes advantage of our incredible abilities while overcoming some of our limitations.

Think about it: How rational is/was our decision in choosing our spouses 🙂

2. “This Time Is Different” has fantastic points. It argues,

No matter how different the latest financial frenzy or crisis always appears, there are usually remarkable similarities with past experience from other countries and from history. The instruments of financial gain and loss have varied over the ages, as have the types of institutions that have expanded might­ily only to fail massively

It is a sort of deja vu for me. It reminds me of the arguments advanced by those who would buy the ‘internet’ companies’ stocks (popularly called ‘.com stocks’). When saner voices reminded them of the ridiculous valuations, they’d say “Internet is different”. People were classified into .com investors (smarts) and dinosaurs (block-heads). (The insanity didn’t last and the tables were turned). Remember,,

I worked at one. Its stock, whose face value was $10, opened at $65 and moved to i think $83 on the opening day itself. WSJ interviewed the CEO and it appeared on Page 1. Parties, smiles, jubilation were the order of the day until the management informed you “You know how bad the economy and our company is. Today is your Last Day here”, your new BMW was seized (you wished you didn’t trade that old Accord, Camry …) , and your home mortgage was in trouble.

This mentality can be seen in military adventures too. An example is invading Afghanistan. Here are some invasions and failures (From Encyclopædia Britannica)

  • Alexander the Great overthrew the Achaemenids and conquered most of the Afghan satrapies before he left for India in 327 BC. A nomadic raid about 130 BC ended the Greek era
  • Genghis Khan invaded the eastern part of ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn’s empire in 1219. Soon after ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn’s death, his energetic son Jalāl al-Dīn Mingburnu rallied the Afghan highlanders at Parwan (modern Jabal os Sarāj), near Kabul, and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mongols under Kutikonian
  • We know the story of Soviet invasion and retreat. And still, the US thought “This time is different. We are more powerful. We can quickly win Afghanistan”. The Americans are staying (or, bleeding) longer than the soviets.

3. Will we learn from the earlier dotcom bubble and the recent economic, housing, financial engineering trouble (Please see for the chart describing the origins of this crisis) ? Can we avoid these troubles in the future? Raghuram Rajan (former IMF chief economist and now a finance professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business) writes in his famous book, “Fault Lines”:

There are deep fault lines in the global economy, fault lines that have developed because in an integrated economy and in an integrated world, what is best for the individual actor or institutions is not always best for the system. Responsibility for some of the more serious fault lines lies not in economics but in politics. Unfortunately, we did not know where all these fault lines ran until the crisis exposed them. We now know better, but the danger is that we will continue to ignore them

When the next boom comes, i hope we won’t be carried away with “This is different”.

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  1. Yes that is helpful for me and clear details about the Hijra of our prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

    Abdirahman Adan

    Jan 12, 2016 at 8:42 am

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