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R. Shiller draws a map of modern finance and connects the dots between our daily lives (and goals) and financial institutions, deals and innovations. The author, though he has warned of flaws in our system before, takes a hopeful tone here that the stakeholders in this society (we people) can innovate, nudge and wrestle finance into a better form for the future. (Sometimes the tone is almost cheery, making me chuckle as I can't help myself hearing the words as if spoken by the psychotic 1980's investment banker character Patrick Bateman in 'American Psycho,' making his absurdly cheery little speeches to dinner companions,) A fine companion book to this with different angles on the same topics is a deeply thought-out, yet amazingly clarifying, similar print book, 'Financing the Future' by F. Allen and G. Yago. It too is very worthwhile. If only I had read something like this in early college -- my life would have been different, as in, light-years ahead in understanding what's going on. Yes, one can criticise this approach and tone, but listening through this (finance's best case for itself) first would do a lot of people a lot of good.
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At many times his arguments or comments can come off question-begging.
In attempts to humanize finance, at times he attempts to imply that the general public's frustrations with financial institutions and high-financiers are based on some misguided jealousy or personal dissatisfaction rather than conscience of a perpetually unjust and non-inclusive system.
At the same time, he does a masterful job of effectively explaining 1) what the hell is going on 2) history of the financial system and how it has benefited society 3) how it can be improved to help everyone.
This man is undoubtedly an expert on the subject matter, and those both familiar and unfamiliar with the financial services industry can benefit from the quality of the content in this book.
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