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Economy 8 book

Washington wants to step up regulation of these complex instruments, hut new rules may not be enough to tame them. Volume 160, Number 1, July 06, 2009

Perkins, a former chief economist at a Boston strategic-consulting firm, confesses he was an "economic hit man" for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business.

“‘As far as I can determine there is only one solution [to the CEO’s demand to save more money]’, the HR representative wrote to her superiors. ‘That would be the death of all existing retirees.’”

It’s no secret that hundreds of companies have been slashing pensions and health coverage earned by millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs- what they call “a perfect storm” of external forces that has forced them to take drastic measures.

But this so-called retirement crisis is no accident. Ellen E. Schultz, award-winning investigative reporter for the , reveals how large companies and the retirement industry-benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks-have all played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits.

A little over a decade ago, most companies had more than enough set aside to pay the benefits earned by two generations of workers, no matter how long they lived. But by exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations, and new accounting rules, companies essentially turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters, and profit centers.

Drawing on original analysis of company data, government filings, internal corporate documents, and confidential memos, Schultz uncovers decades of widespread deception during which employers have exaggerated their retiree burdens while lobbying for government handouts, secretly cutting pensions, tricking employees, and misleading shareholders. She reveals how companies:

Siphon billions of dollars from their pension plans to finance downsizings and sell the assets in merger deals

• Overstate the burden of rank-and-file retiree obligations to justify benefits cuts while simultaneously using the savings to inflate executive pay and pensions

• Hide their growing executive pension liabilities, which at some companies now exceed the liabilities for the regular pension plans

• Purchase billions of dollars of life insurance on workers and use the policies as informal executive pension funds. When the insured workers and retirees die, the company collects tax-free death benefits

• Preemptively sue retirees after cutting retiree health benefits and use other legal strategies to erode their legal protections.

Though the focus is on large companies—which drive the legislative agenda-the same games are being played at smaller companies, non-profits, public pensions plans and retirement systems overseas. Nor is this a partisan issue: employees of all political persuasions and income levels-from managers to miners, pro-football players to pilots-have been slammed.

Retirement Heist

Genre: Non-fiction

Ha-Joon Chang is a heterodox economist and institutional economist specializing in development economics. Currently a Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge, Chang is the author of several widely-discussed policy books, most notably Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective Chang was ranked by Prospect Magazine as one of the top 20 World Thinkers in 2013.

The acclaimed Ha-Joon Chang is a voice of sanity-and wit-in this lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists have spun since the Age of Reagan. uses twenty-three short essays (a few great examples: ) to equip readers with an understanding of how global capitalism works, and doesn't, while offering a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market.

Praise for :

"A lively, accessible and provocative book."- (UK )

"Chang, befitting his position as an economics professor at Cambridge University, is engagingly thoughtful and opinionated at a much lower decibel level. 'The "truths" peddled by free-market ideologues are based on lazy assumptions and blinkered visions,' he charges."-

In his bestselling , Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang brilliantly debunked many of the predominant myths of neoclassical economics. Now, in an entertaining and accessible primer, he explains how the global economy actually works—in real-world terms. Writing with irreverent wit, a deep knowledge of history, and a disregard for conventional economic pieties, Chang offers insights that will never be found in the textbooks.

Unlike many economists, who present only one view of their discipline, Chang introduces a wide range of economic theories, from classical to Keynesian, revealing how each has its strengths and weaknesses, and why  there is no one way to explain economic behavior. Instead, by ignoring the received wisdom and exposing the myriad forces that shape our financial world, Chang gives us the tools we need to understand our increasingly global and interconnected world often driven by economics. From the future of the Euro, inequality in China, or the condition of the American manufacturing industry here in the United States— is a concise and expertly crafted guide to economic fundamentals that offers a clear and accurate picture of the global economy and how and why it affects our daily lives.

Genre: Non-fiction

Elon Musk is the most daring entrepreneur of our time

There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk’s relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as a science fiction fantasy.

In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than fifty hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to three hundred people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies and to paint a portrait of a complex man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation—all while making plenty of enemies along the way.

In 1992, Elon Musk arrived in the United States as a ferociously driven immigrant bent on realizing his wildest dreams. Since then, Musk’s roller-coaster life has brought him grave disappointments alongside massive successes. After being forced out of PayPal, fending off a life-threatening case of malaria, and dealing with the death of his infant son, Musk abandoned Silicon Valley for Los Angeles. He spent the next few years baffling his friends by blowing his entire fortune on rocket ships and electric cars. Cut to 2012, however, and Musk had mounted one of the greatest resurrections in business history: Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity had enjoyed unparalleled success, and Musk’s net worth soared to more than $5 billion. At a time when many American companies are more interested in chasing easy money than in taking bold risks on radical new technology, Musk stands out as the only businessman with enough dynamism and vision to tackle—and even revolutionize—three industries at once. Vance makes the case that Musk’s success heralds a return to the original ambition and invention that made America an economic and intellectual powerhouse. Elon Musk is a brilliant, penetrating examination of what Musk’s career means for a technology industry undergoing dramatic change and offers a taste of what could be an incredible century ahead.

Genre: Non-fiction

The amazing true story of how London became home to the Russian super-rich – told for the first time ever. A dazzling tale of incredible wealth, ferocious disputes, beautiful women, private jets, mega-yachts, the world’s best footballers – and chauffeur-driven Range Rovers with tinted windows. A group of buccaneering Russian oligarchs made colossal fortunes after the collapse of communism – and many of them came to London to enjoy their new-found wealth. Londongrad tells for the first time the true story of their journeys from Moscow and St Petersburg to mansions in Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Surrey – and takes you into a shimmering world of audacious multi-billion pound deals, outrageous spending and rancorous feuds. But while London’s flashiest restaurants echoed to Russian laughter and Bond Street shop-owners totted up their profits, darker events also played themselves out. The killing of ex-KGB man Alexander Litvinenko in London to the death – in a helicopter crash he all but predicted – of Stephen Curtis, the lawyer to many of Britain’s richest Russians, chilled London’s Russians and many of those who know them. This is the story of how Russia’s wealth was harvested and brought to London – some of it spent by Roman Abramovich on his beloved Chelsea Football Club, some of it spent by Boris Berezovsky in his battles with Russia’s all-powerful Vladimir Putin. Londongrad is a must-read for anyone interested in how vast wealth is created, the luxury it can buy and the power and intrigue it produces.