Mihir A. Desai
The Wisdom of Finance
Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017
In his engaging and original book The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), Harvard Professor Mihir A. Desai takes on the daunting task of explaining the world of finance through the prism of the humanities, yes the humanities. Using stories from literature, film, music, popular culture and daily life, Desai argues that rather than being an impenetrable jumble of algorithms used to strip the innocent of their money, the core concepts of modern finance can be used to understand how people make everyday decisions small and large about their lives. Diversification, leverage, risk and return, agency costs—all can be seen and explained without dense mathematical formulas. Whether you agree with this effort or not, you will never read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or see Mel Brooks’ The Producers the same way again.
Daniel Peris is Senior Vice President at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh. Trained as a historian of modern Russia, he is the author most recently of Getting Back to Business: Why Modern Portfolio Theory Fails Investors. You can follow him on Twitter @Back2BizBook or at http://www.