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Signals: The Breakdown of the Social Contract and the Rise of Geopolitics Hardcover – January 20, 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing Limited (January 20, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781487405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781487402
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By Graham H. Seibert TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a wide ranging book by a woman who has an amazing breadth of experience herself. Raised in a government family in Washington DC, she has been exposed to politics and economics all of her life. She has read extremely widely and cites an impressive number of very good sources in this book.

It is not obvious to me, not having encountered Malmgren before, that she could be immediately pidgeonholed as a neocon or libertarian, and certainly not a progressive, statist or person of the left. She is an independent thinker and these are her own opinions.

A major concern is the way in which the global growth of governments, and central banks in particular, is changing society. There is simply too much debt and it will be difficult to discharge without breaking the social contract. That would be the core message of the book.

The book has somewhat of shortcoming in that it is poorly edited. There are usages that should not have slipped through. More significant are errors in fact that simply should not occur. For instance, she has Einstein playing with vacuum-tube radios in his youth. It should be evident to somebody with some knowledge of history that radios were not invented until Einstein's early adulthood. Other similar problems of fact crop up throughout the book. They do not detract from her thesis, but they do impact her credibility.

That is the end of a short review. Long review follows.

Malmgren has had a very privileged vantage from which to see the world and form broad opinions. She grew up in Washington DC, the daughter of an advisor to Presidents of the Kennedy through the Reagan eras. She has a background in economics and a lifelong exposure to politics.

The book addresses several interconnected themes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disclosure: I know Dr Malmgren and have had the chance to discuss numerous economic and market subjects with her. I respect her for her intelligence and integrity, even when I disagree with her.

Dr Malmgren’s treatment of everyday ‘signals’ that describe economic activity and attitudes is a refreshing change from the normal economic sleep aids that most academicians write. Malmgren takes technical economic subjects and presents them for the average reader in such a way that requires little education in classic economics. Maybe one of the best things that can be said about the book is that economic curiosity is enough to make the book enjoyable.

"Signals" in many ways reminds me of Gladwell’s books, ‘Tipping Point’ and ‘Outliers’. It takes the reader through series of observations and allows them to ‘see’ the environment more clearly. The use of real world examples helps to frame the discussion and make serious points while at the same time grounding the subject in reality.

Whether one approaches economics from the Keynes or Hayek perspective, “Signals” provides the reader with a means of observation that can help determine both local and global economic trends. These trends are important to understand whether you are an investor, business owner, government official, or just someone thinking about their economic well-being.

As another reviewer wrote, I believe that Dr Malmgren should consider an annual update either in print or through a website presence that would allow for both observation and discussion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Pippa Malmgren has written a wise and worldly assessment of the geopolitical and economic environment in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

I, for one, hope that it will earn a place as a perennial, akin to Theodore H. White's "The Making of the President" series. Such a series -- one, apparently, not considered by the author in this volume -- would work to inform those of us who are engaged in our day-to-day lives of the earth-shaking and even life-altering events - "Signals" - that happen all around us but that few of us notice.

Unlike pundits and prognosticators, Dr. Malmgren mostly doesn't presume to tell us what to think about these signals, or even what they may be, other than by example. Instead, she encourages us to find and assess the signals we encounter from our own unique perspective, and to act on them. These different views, she illustrates, create the buyers and sellers that make the market and the economy.

Dr. Malmgren asks us to adopt a perspective: are we "freshwater" (leaning toward little or no government intervention in the economy) or "saltwater" observers (who think government should intervene to save the marketplace from itself)? Are we somewhere in the middle? Do we like USDA meat inspectors but loathe the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency? Do we cheer for bank regulators or cry when those same regulators impose rules that choke off lending?

After we have adopted a perspective, Dr. Malmgren asks if we can balance our appetite for risk, our "hubris", with our fear of disaster, our "nemesis". That balance, she writes, is the midwife of the innovation that she calls "edgework", the ultimate driver of the growth we so sorely need.

Dr.
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