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Stimulate Your Mind, If Not the Economy

Want the answers to today's business gloom and uncertainty? Look no further than some end-of-year book lists. BNET's list (vote here through Thursday) looks poised to feature plenty of books with answers, and two prominent lists that came out late last week do, too.

The New York Times and The Economist just published their selections for top books of 2008, and the business books on the list emphasize explanations for why we make bad decisions, and how our economic mess happened. Too bad the people in charge of the financial system didn't have access to the decision-making books a decade or two ago. Maybe it would have helped.

The New York Times 100 notable books includes

  • "The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers and the Great Credit Crash," by Charles R. Morris;
  • "Predictably Irrational:The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions," by Dan Ariely;
  • "The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives," by Leonard Mlodinow
It also included a popular idea for a way out:

"Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution -- and How it Can Renew America," by Thomas L. Friedman
Finally, there were three business narratives on the list:

  • "A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books," by Alex Beam
  • "Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China," by Leslie T. Chang;
  • "Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause," by Tom Gjelten;
The Economist's Pick of the Pile (subscription required) also cites the "Trillion Dollar Meltdown," the only book to make both lists.

It adds the divining lights of

  • "When Markets Collide: Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change, by Mohamed El-Erian;
  • "The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World," by Tim Harford;
  • "Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness," by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
The Economist gives thumbs up to books on globalization and innovation, as well, with
  • "A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World," by William J. Bernstein;
  • "Capitalism with Chinese Characterisitics: Entrepreneurship and the State," by Yasheng Huang
  • "Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything," by Hal Sirkin, Jim Hemerling and Arindam Bhattacharya
  • "The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World," by Amar Bhide
  • "Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World," by Don Tapscott
And, its favorite corporate yarn:

"The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs," by Charles D. Ellis

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