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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets

Book Description

Why Going Against the Grain Pays.

Bestselling author Bill Bonner has long been a maverick observer of the financial and political world, sharpening his sardonic wit, in particular, on the vagaries of the investing public. Market booms and busts, tulip manias and dotcom bubbles, venture capitalists and vulture funds, he lets you know, are best explained not by dry statistics and obscure theories but by the metaphors and analogies of literature.

Now, in Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets, Bonner and freelance journalist Lila Rajiva use literary economics to offer broader insights into mass behavior and its devastating effects on society. Why is it, they ask, that perfectly sane and responsible individuals can get together, and by some bizarre alchemy turn into an irrational mob? What makes them trust charlatans and demagogues who manipulate their worst instincts? Why do they abandon good sense, good behavior and good taste when an empty slogan is waved in front of them. Why is the road to hell paved with so many sterling intentions? Why is there a  fool on every corner and a knave in every public office?

In attempting an answer, the authors weave a light-hearted journey through history, politics and finance to show group think at work in an improbable array of instances, from medieval crusades to the architectural follies of hedge-fund managers. Their journey takes them ultimately to the desk of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank and to a cautionary tale of the current bubble economy. They warn that the gush of credit let loose by Alan Greenspan and multiplied by the sophisticated number games of Wall Street whizzes is fraught with perils for the unwary. Boom without end, pronounces The Street.  But Bonner and Rajiva are more cynical. When the higher math and the greater greed come together, watch out below!

Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets ends by giving concrete advice on how readers can avoid what the authors call the public spectacle of modern finance,  and become, instead, private investors -  knowing their own mind and following their own intuitions. The authors have no gimmicks to offer here -   but instead give a better understanding of the dynamics of market behavior, allowing prudent investors to protect themselves from the fads and follies of the investment markets.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Foreword
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. Do‐Gooders Gone Bad
    1. Blue Bloods in Black Shirts
    2. World Improvers
    3. Still Trying to Hustle the East
    4. Caliphs and Crusaders
    5. Notes
  5. Love in the Time of Viagra
    1. Flattering Frauds
    2. Love in the Time of Viagra
    3. The Downfall of Marriage: The Pursuit of Happiness
    4. The Downfall of Marriage: Brazil
    5. The Mating Game
    6. Corporate Heights
    7. Portrait of the Artist as a Scalawag
    8. Monkey Business
    9. The Ties That Bind
    10. Bright Shining Lies
    11. Notes
  6. The Transit of Venus
    1. Two Kinds of World Improvers
    2. America's Revolt against the Gods
    3. The American Brain: The Flaw in the Design
    4. No Room for No
    5. Basic Instincts
    6. Word Games
    7. The Intuitive Mind
    8. Real Heroes
    9. Notes
  7. The Devil Made Them Do It
    1. Extraordinary Popular Headlines
    2. Witchy Women
    3. Witness for the Persecution
    4. The Hammer of Witches
    5. How to Make A Turkey Stew
    6. Old McMartin Had a Crèche
    7. History of a Hysteria
    8. Notes
  8. Words of War
    1. On the Self‐Importance of Scribblers
    2. The Potomac Militerati
    3. Swindling the Home Crowd
    4. Slimed by the Limeys: British Propaganda in World War I
    5. Waffling about Belgium
    6. Notes
  9. War and Remembrance
    1. Poppycock
    2. In Praise of Blockheads
    3. The London Blitz
      1. London Blitz: Beginning the Bombing
      2. The London Bombings: What the Wehrmacht Never Was
    4. Ivan's War
    5. Pericles: “I Shall Begin with Our Ancestors”
    6. Notes
  10. Empire of Delusion
    1. Stage One of a Public Spectacle—Lies
      1. Rainbow Warriors: The Chosin People
      2. Sailors Designed by Benetton
      3. Showing the Heathen How to Live
    2. Stage Two of a Public Spectacle—Farce
      1. Clueless in Baghdad
      2. Offshore Assets
    3. Stage Three of a Public Spectacle—Disaster
      1. Signs of the Times
      2. Creating Terrorists with Grudges
    4. Full Spectrum Dumbbells
    5. Notes
  11. Heroes of the Revolution
    1. Radical Che
    2. The Way of All Cash
    3. Don't Cry for Evita
    4. The Late, Great Helmsman
    5. Notes
  12. The Number Game
    1. The Magic Number
    2. Why Men Go Ape
    3. All Men Are Different (and Damn Well Better Stay That Way)
    4. Notes
  13. The Flat Earth Society
    1. The Madness in His Methods—9/11 and 7/11
    2. The Angelic Empire
    3. Erin Risen
    4. Notes
  14. What the Yonghy‐Bonghy‐Bo Didn't Know
    1. The Market Comes to Madras
    2. Jekyll and Hyde
    3. The Tao of Jones
    4. Black Swans and Fat Tails
    5. On the Cleverness of Cauliflower
    6. Developmentally Disabled
    7. Do‐Gooding Doo‐Doo
    8. Notes
  15. Fin de Bubble
    1. Where the Buck Starts
    2. The Temptations of St. Alan
    3. Wreck of the Tech
    4. Alan, the Technicolor Turncoat
    5. Mr. Bubbles
    6. Nothing Fails Like Success
    7. Money Heaven
    8. Macroeconomics for Dummies
    9. Notes
  16. The Million‐Dollar Trailer
    1. Flimflam Spam
    2. What Goes Up Must Come Down
    3. Notes
  17. Central Bank Bamboozle
    1. Not Your Father's Boom
    2. I, Greenspan
    3. Notes
  18. The Mother of the Mother of All Bubbles
    1. A Hedge Too Far
    2. Hedge, I Win; Fails, You Lose
    3. Low in the Water
    4. The Highwaymen
    5. Notes
  19. How Not to Be Chumped by Wall Street
    1. So You Really Want to Be Rich?
    2. How Much Is Rich?
    3. Confessions of a Newsletter Man
    4. Steering Clear of the Mob
      1. Don't Go Looking for Trouble
      2. Never Expect the Market to Give a Sucker an Even Break
      3. Don't Be a Patsy
      4. Never Get Too Far from the Facts
      5. Never Buy Tuna Unless It's on Sale
      6. Never Buy What Someone Else Really Wants to Sell
      7. Never Buy What Everyone Else Is Rushing to Buy
      8. Don't Do Anything
    5. Notes
  20. The Dupe of Hearts
    1. One and One Make Eleven
    2. Empire of Experts
    3. Law and Disorder
    4. Noble Rot
    5. Moments of Glory
    6. Pilate Error
    7. Omnes Gentes Alleluia
    8. Notes