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Profile for Stuart Parkinson, The Top Note > Reviews

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Stuart Parkinson, The Top Note

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Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency
Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency
Price: £8.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and thought-provoking, 26 July 2017
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This is a real eye opener of a book, and I am so glad that I picked it up off the proverbial e-shelf.

Something has changed about the news and the media. The advent of the Internet started it, I think. I realised it years ago. I don't think the traditional media outlets have gone rogue or turned bad. But I can believe that their Internet-driven financial woes have caused them to compromise too often to be vulnerable to the "fake news" label, which they are - for now - very much stuck with. If you aren't paying attention to the Breitbarts of the world right now, you will struggle to understand how things have changed.

Either way, I find it hard to believe that a country like the USA ends up with a President like Donald Trunp without manipulation on somebody's part. This book makes me think that Russian involvement is mostly just a smokescreen; the real manipulation was probably almost purely domestic.


The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery
The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery
Price: £9.49

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting take on an important but possibly overlooked issue, 26 Jun. 2017
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When it comes to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/2009, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is more or less rightly accredited with having done "whatever it takes" in terms of monetary policy to stop the rot. But what about former President Barack Obama, and his input with respect to fiscal policy?

This book makes the point that - unlike Ben Bernanke - former President Obama came up short. And he didn't just come up short relative to Mr Bernanke at the Fed, but also with respect to his predecessor, President George W Bush, who plied the economy with far more stimulus in the wake of the 2000 Market Crash than President Obama did in 2009 or 2010.

The book does rather drag on a bit at times. And its conclusion isn't the sharpest I've ever read. But the issues raised are interesting ones nonetheless, and they are issues that haven't already been done to death elsewhere.


Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street
Makers and Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street
Price: £13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It's good but it's not earth-shatteringly good, 26 Jun. 2017
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This isn't a brilliant book by any means in terms of its own content and its own story. It was most useful for me for its links to other material, and in that sense the author is clearly well read.

For example, to state that many developing countries experiencing of "hyper-inflation" thanks to the spike in commodity prices in 2010 is quite wrong from an economics perspective. Probably the author didn't realise that hyper-inflation has a precise definition in economics, which no countries will have endured thanks to the commodity price gyrations of recent years.

On the other hand, there is some good stuff about how companies nowadays focus only on profits. I wasn't aware that share buybacks were only permitted under law as recently as 1982. And I hadn't read the story about how Detroit was bankrupted by its dealings with Wall Street, and where - unlike AIG and all the rest - it wasn't bailed out (though the car companies were).

So it's a good book but not a brilliant book. It is well written and so it is relatively light to read (i.e. one can read it rather than having to study it to pick up the book's main points). And somebody at Amazon must have REALLY loved the book because it was "recommended" to me for months on end before I finally bought it (so advertising does work, clearly!).


Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal: Why You Should Ditch Your Morning Meal For Health and Wellbeing
Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal: Why You Should Ditch Your Morning Meal For Health and Wellbeing
Price: £4.74

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening, 20 Jun. 2017
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This is an interesting book and well worth reading. The advice of food nutritionists must rank as badly as that of economists, looking back at the past fifty years - the low fat craze of yesteryearlooks downright wrong with the benefit of hindsight and new research.

I've tried fasting for the past few weeks and it has been great, so far: taste buds and appetite seem to adjust really quickly to new conditions. I'm losing weight 1kg per week lately and it feels relatively effortless.

So much for the most important meal of the day: breakfast now seems to be the opposite.

Bon Appetit!


The Global Securities Market: A History
The Global Securities Market: A History
Price: £36.57

5.0 out of 5 stars An epic effort, 16 Jun. 2017
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This is a remarkable history of almost epic proportions in terms of its comprehensiveness and attention to detail. I think its main conclusion is to say that securities markets evolve fastest - and perhaps even "best" - when governments stay out of the way. That certainly is a central reason behind the secret of London's long-run success as a global financial centre.

I'll admit there is also a certain amount of repetition in this book, which does also trail off a bit in the post WWII years. But it is still well worth a five-star rating in terms of its attention to detail and the number of "I never knew" that moments I encountered along the way.


Fooling Some of the People All of the Time: A Long Short (and Now Complete) Story
Fooling Some of the People All of the Time: A Long Short (and Now Complete) Story
by David Einhorn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed but also a bit drawn out at times, 29 May 2017
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David Einhorn succeeds in this book in making me feel a bit more sympathetic towards short-sellers. And I've got to admire the detailed knowledge he evidently assembled on his targets. But that detail also makes this book a bit dull at times.

Nonetheless, this is a worthwhile read, and it is rather troubling to think about how many of these "rogue" companies are getting off scott-free for each one that is finally caught out.


The Index Revolution: Why Investors Should Join It Now
The Index Revolution: Why Investors Should Join It Now
by Charles D. Ellis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Short and interesting; but also missing quite an important point, 25 May 2017
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This is a short, informative, and thought-provoking book.

Passive investing in equities beats active investing, says the author. And the statistics seems to match. I got it.

It's ironic, though, that an author so steeped in the manifold changes in the economic and financial landscape of the past fifty years doesn't stop to think about how they might change further in the future. The equity market today isn't what it was twenty five years ago: agreed. Equally, it will be different twenty-five years from now. How? Well, for one thing, it may be the the 'market' return from owning common stock is becoming increasingly poor through time. Why? Because High Yield Bonds, Private Equity, Venture Capital, Activist Investors (a la Elliott Advisors) are all in the process of "stealing" returns that historically accrued to common stockholders, for one thing. For another, perhaps there is something in the process of marking-to-market (and being able to mark-to-market) investments that makes their return characteristics poorer (less risk, less return: right?).

So this is a really interesting little book. And the author is absolutely right to point out and to describe in greater detail how the seismic shift from active- to passive-investing has taken place in the recent past. But he doesn't say so much about the future, and to think or even to infer it will be a simple continuation of the recent past, is almost certain to be wrong.

It's no different from "past performance is not guide to future success", as I think about it. And that makes it really ironic that the author doesn't stop to point it out.


Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought
Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought
Price: £24.69

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant if at times slightly annoying, 21 May 2017
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This is a five star book in terms of its main, and original, point: that the much-vaunted Efficient Markets Hypothesis of high finance is incomplete. I also really like the point that economics took a very noticeable turn towards mathematics & physics in the mid 20th Century, away from other disciplines, and that its subsequent limits and limitations were very much shaped by this evolution.

Equally there are times in this book where it is quite a slog, while the end of the book is just the bit of the book where the words run out, as opposed to ending with any kind of discernible summary, recap, or conclusion.

Overall, though, this is a highly thought-provoking and original book, and very much worth a read.


Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House

4.0 out of 5 stars It beats PJ O'Rourke's latest book, at least, 15 May 2017
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This is entertaining enough and over quickly enough to be worth a read. A bunch of the humour was lost on me (as a Brit), and the style of the book certainly won't be to everyone's liking. I don't think I counted too many deep insights (or any, actually). But at least it is a good reminder that, whoever the people and whatever they do at work, they are still regular people underneath all the veneer.


Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign
Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign
Price: £10.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read of important events, 12 May 2017
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This book threatens to get a bit repetitive in places but on the whole it does just about keep moving at a fast enough pace to keep one's attention. I also appreciate the fact that the authors reserve the end (i.e. the night of the Presidential election itself) until the end, rather than starting the book with it and then backtracking.

There are quite a few mentions of Mrs Clinton's unsuccessful run for President in 2008, and the obvious mistakes that were made, but without actually really saying what they were (a bit annoying if you don't actually know, like me).

Overall, though, this is a well written account of important recent history, and so definitely a worthwhile read.


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