What We Are Reading Today: A Crisis of Beliefs: Investor Psychology and Financial Fragility

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Updated 17 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: A Crisis of Beliefs: Investor Psychology and Financial Fragility

Authors: Nicola Gennaioli and Andrei Shleifer

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 caught markets and regulators by surprise.
Nicola Gennaioli and Andrei Shleifer walk readers through the unraveling of Lehman and the ensuing meltdown of the US financial system, and present new evidence to illustrate the destabilizing role played by the beliefs of home buyers, investors, and regulators. Using the latest research in psychology and behavioral economics, they present a new theory of belief formation that explains why the financial crisis came as such a shock to so many people— and how financial and economic instability persist.
A Crisis of Beliefs is a must-read for anyone seeking to navigate today’s unpredictable financial waters.


What We Are Reading Today: Reading Old Books by Peter Mack

Updated 26 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Reading Old Books by Peter Mack

In literary and cultural studies, “tradition” is a word everyone uses but few address critically. In Reading Old Books, Peter Mack offers a wide-ranging exploration of the creative power of literary tradition, from the middle ages to the 21st century, revealing in new ways how it helps writers and readers make new works and meanings.

Reading Old Books argues that the best way to understand tradition is by examining the moments when a writer takes up an old text and writes something new out of a dialogue with that text and the promptings of the present situation. 

The book examines Petrarch as a user, instigator, and victim of tradition. It shows how Chaucer became the first great English writer by translating and adapting a minor poem by Boccaccio. 

It investigates how Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser made new epic meanings by playing with assumptions, episodes, and phrases translated from their predecessors. It analyzes how the Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell drew on tradition to address the new problem of urban deprivation in Mary Barton. 

And, finally, it looks at how the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, in his 2004 novel Wizard of the Crow, reflects on biblical, English literary, and African traditions.

Drawing on key theorists, critics, historians, and sociologists, and stressing the international character of literary tradition, Reading Old Books illuminates the not entirely free choices readers and writers make to create meaning in collaboration and competition with their models.