I read an inhuman number of books (partly due to the amount of time I spend on planes and in airports), and one of the things I like to do is to informally keep track of the most (and least) timely and/or prescient books I come across. For the dot-com bubble, for example, one of the most timely/prescient books was Bob Shiller's Irrational Exuberance (published in March 2000), and the least timely/prescient book was, obviously, Kevin Hassett and James Glassman's Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market (published in October 1999). For the current financial crisis, here are the most timely and/or prescient books I've come across so far:

Too Big to Fail: The Hazards of Bank Bailouts, by Gary Stern and Ron Feldman (March 2004)
House Prices and the Macroeconomy: Implications for Banking and Price Stability, by Charles Goodhart and Boris Hofmann (March 2007)
Systemic Financial Crises: Resolving Large Bank Insolvencies, edited by Douglas Evanoff & George Kaufman (June 2005)
Fragile Finance: Debt, Speculation and Crisis in the Age of Global Credit, by Anastasia Nesvetailova (December 2007)
And here are the least timely and/or prescient books I've come across:
Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust—And How You Can Profit from It, by David Lereah (February 2006)
The Complete Guide to Flipping Properties, 2nd Edition, by Steve Berges (January 2008)
This one is a little too early, but the title is just too good to leave off the list: Real Estate Riches: How to Become Rich Using Your Banker's Money, by Dolf de Roos (October 2001)
The David Lereah book in particular is pure comedic gold. I'm sure there are lots more books in the "least timely and/or prescient" category, but I generally don't browse the Personal Finance/Self-Help books (which is where the really crazy books are usually located), so I haven't come across them. I'm more interested in books that are incredibly timely and/or prescient anyway, because there will always be yahoos writing ridiculous get-rich-quick books, but it's much harder to accurately anticipate events.


Michael Panzner said...

Have you ever read Financial Armageddon? See: http://www.financialarmageddon.com/2009/02/a-breakingviews-the-doomsayer-who-got-it-right-byedward-chancellor-----the-least-useful-investment-books-are-those-which.html

Economics of Contempt said...

I haven't actually. It's one of those books that I've never gotten around to reading because I've read so much about the book that I feel like I've read it already. (If that makes any sense.)

Now that you've reminded me, I do actually own a copy, and I see that it's just under 200 pages, so I'll knock it out on my flight this afternoon.

Just out of curiosity, when did you finish writing the book? The copyright on my copy says 2007, but I assume there was some sort of lag in the publication process. It's more interesting if you know when, specifically, the author was making his forecasts.

Michael Panzner said...

Sorry about the delayed reply (I usually visit your site using Bloglines reader, so I missed your response). I handed in the revised manuscript in October 2006, and started writing it in the spring of 2006.

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