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Book Sessions


Book Presentation George Akerlof / Matthieu Ricard

Nobel laureate George Akerlof and Buddhist Monk, Translator for the Dalai Lama and Founder of the NGO Karuna-Shechen Matthieu Ricard recently released new books and will present their respective books at the GES 2015. Both books focus on non-rational concepts in human behaviour and the relevance of these concepts in economic contexts. Both books show a new image of humanity in economics. An image that is not called homo oeconomicus:

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller (released in September 2015, Princeton University Press)

Standard economics is predicated on rationality, operating with the presumption that buyers understand what they want and make rational decisions. However, in market economies, hidden realities and complications exist. Buyers don’t always know what is best for them, and are susceptible to sly psychological and informational tactics. And whenever there is profit to be made, sellers will try to take advantage by exploiting gaps in buyers’ knowledge, or lack thereof. Rather than being essentially benign and always creating the greater good as economics textbooks attest, markets are inherently filled with tricks and traps and will “phish” us as “phools.”

In Phishing for Phools the authors offer a coherent and compelling explanation of why markets, for all their bounty, can and do lead to undesirable outcomes, often resulting in widespread economic distress. Akerlof and Shiller bring their argument to life through dozens of stories that show how phishing affects everyone, in almost every walk of life. We spend our money up to the limit, and then worry about how to pay the next month’s bills. The financial system soars, then crashes. We are attracted, more than we know, by advertising. Our political system is distorted by money. We pay too much for gym memberships, cars, houses, and credit cards. Drug companies ingeniously market pharmaceuticals that do us little good, and sometimes are downright dangerous.

Cover Akerlof

Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World by Matthieu Ricard (released in June 2015, Atlantic Books)


In Happiness (January 2015), Matthieu Ricard demonstrated that true happiness is not tied to fleeting moments or sensations, but is an enduring state of soul rooted in mindfulness and compassion for others. Now he turns his lens from the personal to the global, with a rousing argument that altruism - genuine concern for the well-being of others - could be the saving grace of the 21st century.

Altruism is, he believes, the vital thread that can answer the main challenges of our time: the economy in the short term, life satisfaction in the mid-term, and environment in the long term. Ricard's message has been taken up by major economists and thinkers, including Dennis Snower, Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz, and George Soros.

Matthieu Ricard makes a robust and passionate case for cultivating altruistic love and compassion as the best means for simultaneously benefitting ourselves and our society. It's a fresh outlook on an ardent struggle - and one that just might make the world a better place.

Cover Ricard



Book Presentation Adair Turner

Last year at the Global Economic Symposium, Adair Turner, Chairman of the Governing Board at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and former Chairman of the Financial Services Authority (UK), provided his expertise on “Climate and Competitiveness”, ”The New Global Financial Architecture” and on “Economics after the Crisis” – the title of his last book, released in 2013. At the end of October he will release a new book and he will showcase it at the GES 2015:

Between Debt and the Devil by Adair Turner (release date October, 27th 2015, Princeton University Press)

Adair Turner became chairman of Britain's Financial Services Authority just as the global financial crisis struck in 2008, and he played a leading role in redesigning global financial regulation. In this eye-opening book, he sets the record straight about what really caused the crisis. It didn't happen because banks are too big to fail—our addiction to private debt is to blame.

Between Debt and the Devil challenges the belief that we need credit growth to fuel economic growth, and that rising debt is okay as long as inflation remains low. In fact, most credit is not needed for economic growth—but it drives real estate booms and busts and leads to financial crisis and depression. Turner explains why public policy needs to manage the growth and allocation of credit creation, and why debt needs to be taxed as a form of economic pollution. Banks need far more capital, real estate lending must be restricted, and we need to tackle inequality and mitigate the relentless rise of real estate prices. Turner also debunks the big myth about fiat money—the erroneous notion that printing money will lead to harmful inflation. To escape the mess created by past policy errors, we sometimes need to monetize government debt and finance fiscal deficits with central-bank money.

Between Debt and the Devil shows why we need to reject the assumptions that private credit is essential to growth and fiat money is inevitably dangerous. Each has its advantages, and each creates risks that public policy must consciously balance.

Cover Turner