Allianz’s main economic advisor admits himself to be an admirer of Keynes’s ‘The General Theory’ and Caroline Criado’s ‘Invisible Women’. Two works that fight against excessive polarization.

It has been very difficult for me to choose just two books that have influenced me throughout my existence. Even a larger number, say five or ten, would have been difficult. In fact, anything under twenty forces me to make a pretty arbitrary cut. That said, and being an inherent follower of the rules, I was asked for two and I am going to provide two.

The first is a book that I found when I was 19, in my freshman year of college, and not by choice. John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money was required reading for an economics major at Cambridge. It soon went from being an imposition to me taking it frequently, and not just for my studies.

Beautifully written, The Theory Genera l (as commonly known) has both depth and width. It has been used and abused by many; interpreted and misinterpreted in too many ways, enough of which erode its key ideas. However, it managed to revolutionize the economic and political thinking of the day , and it remains highly relevant today almost 90 years after its initial publication.

The more I read of this transformative book, the more I appreciate it for its insights and guidance that go far beyond economics. It incorporates elements of behavioral finance and psychology. The amazing presentation pivots are brilliantly done (just compare Chapters 12 and 22 with the rest of the book). Through simple but powerful examples, he brings to life some rather complicated economic concepts. And he’s an important advocate for humility and open-mindedness.

The second book is more recent (2019) and also very impressive. Invisible Women: Exposing bias data in a world designed for men, ( Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men ) Caroline Criado-Perez, provides a well documented explanation, complete and brilliantly argued why are there are so many gender biases. After all, we not only continue to live in a world created for men. It is also a world designed by men.

This book, very entertaining and attractive, opens the eyes of many. It powerfully complements important work done elsewhere on implicit biases, blind spots, and the multifaceted case of great diversity and inclusion. It’s a must-read for many, including business leaders and government officials.

I can’t say how many times I’ve used the ideas in the book to alert people to how much more needs to be done to overcome long-standing and damaging obstacles to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

I can’t say how many times I’ve used the ideas in the book to alert people to how much more needs to be done to overcome long-standing and damaging obstacles to diversity, inclusion, and equity. In many of these cases, surprisingly, in fact too many, it is as if a light bulb is turned on when people hear the stories that Mrs. Criado-PĂ©rez has researched and presented in the book.

These two books, especially when read together, can do good in a world struggling with excessive polarization, marginalization, and alienation. They can help open minds at a time when society is facing multiple generational challenges, be it recovering from Covid-19 or fighting climate change and inequality.

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