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A Journey in Finance through books and movies

  1. The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Making and Breaking of Nations

The Reckoning is about the history of accounting, which is why I went into it with bated breath and low expectations, but it turned out to be quite exciting. Having studied accounting in the past, it can understandably be a difficult subject to romanticise but this book takes a step forward to that. Soll takes us from the early days of bookkeeping all the way to modern global finance, showing us how financial accountability has been a crucial factor in the rise and fall of nations. But don’t worry if you’re not a financial wizard – Soll has got you covered. He explains complex financial concepts in a way that’s easy to understand, making this book accessible to all. He discusses the development of bookkeeping, the evolution of accounting practices, the rise and fall of financial empires, the role of taxation, the impact of sovereign debt, the effects of currency manipulation, and much  more.The Reckoning is not just a history lesson – it’s a call to action. Soll argues that financial accountability should be a top priority for any nation’s governance, and that countries must be held accountable for their financial decisions in order to ensure the well-being of their citizens.highlights the need for greater transparency and accountability in financial decision-making at both the national and international levels, and provides suggestions for how policymakers and citizens can work together to achieve these goals. All-in-all, a solid read if you are curious about the importance behind Accounting.

2. Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men 

This one is for the women in finance, and the enlightened men. Caroline wages a war on the partriarchy in data through chapter on chapter of real-world instances of its problems. 

Perez is a force to be reckoned with and her research is meticulous and eye-opening. She delves into the gender data gap and how it affects everything from medical research to public transportation. It is surprising how little we know about women’s bodies and how often women are misdiagnosed or not given appropriate treatment simply because they were not included in medical research. But it’s not just in the medical field where the gender data gap is having disastrous consequences. Perez also explores how women are affected by urban design and transportation policies that don’t take into account women’s safety concerns. From poorly lit streets to inadequate public transportation, women are often left to fend for themselves in ways that men are not.

What’s truly refreshing about this book is that Perez doesn’t just point out the problems, she offers concrete solutions. She argues that we need more data on women’s lives and experiences, and we need to ensure that women are included in the design and implementation of policies and products.

This book made me appreciate data so much more, how it can be immensely useful when used correctly, and as dangerous when used with a wrong understanding. Perez’s book is a call to action to work towards a more just and equitable world. 

3. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

“the poor are no less rational than anyone else—quite the contrary. Precisely because they have so little, we often find them putting much careful thought into their choices:They have to be sophisticated economists just to survive.”

Banerjee and Duflo ask the real questions in this gripping and devastative portrait of how poor people actually live. What is especially great about this book is that you don’t need a knowledge of economics or finance to be immersed in it, the authors keep you engaged with fact and research based writing and eliciting thought-provoking questions like, Why Schools Fail? What are the hazards of being poor? And are there really a billion hungry people? If you are interested in Developmental and Experimental Economics, this is the one for you. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s extensive research, conducted through the Poverty Action Lab and fieldwork, offers a unique and insightful perspective on the behaviour and circumstances of the poor. Drawing on evidence from randomized control trials, the authors offer practical solutions to help lift individuals out of poverty and guide them towards a better future. Overall, Poor Economics is a well-researched and accessible book that challenges readers to rethink their assumptions about poverty and development. 

4. Rogue Trader (1999)

If you enjoy true stories, financial controversies, or Ewan McGregor then you’ll love this film. Based on the true story of Nick Leeson, an employee of Barings Bank who ends up accumulating $1.4 billion in losses hidden in account #88888, this movie provides insights into derivative trading, along with of course, a lot of drama. Rogue Trader is one of those movies that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go until the end. Ewan McGregor’s performance as Nick Leeson is nothing short of brilliant, capturing the character’s charming ambition and eventual spiral into greed and deceit. You can’t help but feel sorry for the guy as he frantically tries to cover up his mounting losses with increasingly risky and fraudulent schemes.

The film perfectly captures the cutthroat world of high finance, where the only thing that matters is making a profit, no matter what the cost. The tension builds throughout the movie as Leeson’s lies become harder and harder to maintain and his actions become more and more reckless. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, wondering what he’ll do next.

But Rogue Trader isn’t just a thrilling ride – it also offers a sobering reminder of the devastating consequences of unchecked ambition and greed. Leeson’s actions not only led to the collapse of Barings Bank but also had a ripple effect that impacted the lives of countless employees and investors. It’s a poignant commentary on the dangers of putting profits above all else.

5.  Moneyball

Directed by Bennett Miller and starring Brad Pitt in a career-defining performance, the film tells the true story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and his quest to build a winning baseball team with a limited budget. Pitt brings charisma and depth to the role of Beane, capturing his intensity, his frustrations, and his unwavering determination to prove his critics wrong. 

What sets Moneyball apart from other sports films is its focus on the behind-the-scenes mechanics of team-building. The film explores the use of data analysis and statistical modeling to identify undervalued players and build a team that can compete with the big spenders, hence telling us how economics can be used outside the textbook. It’s a fascinating insight into the world of sports management and a testament to the power of innovation in any industry. The film highlights the use of sabermetrics, a data-driven approach to analyzing baseball players, and how it can be used to build a successful team on a budget. It also shows the challenges faced by Beane and Brand from traditionalists in the baseball community who rely on subjective evaluations of players rather than objective data.

The film’s pacing is superb, with Miller skillfully balancing the on-field action with the more cerebral aspects of Beane’s job. The baseball scenes are shot with a visceral energy, while the dialogue-heavy scenes crackle with wit and intelligence, the perfect film for when you want to watch something uniquely innovative. 



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