Alan Greenspan might be wearing out his welcome with all his proclamations for pay since leaving office, and his obvious (and sad) missing of the limelight. But the man was a giant force in the economy for two decades. Enough said. Plus, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (The Penguin Press) is surprisingly well written -- surprising considering his famously droning speaking style.
Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes
Here's the single factor that separates most good investors from the bad: the good take advantage of real trends, while the bad follow too many false ones. The business media complicate this by constantly running stories about trends, thanks to a few anecdotes and a catchy hypothesis. Mark Penn is a lot of things. He is the Clinton adviser who recently ran into a heap of trouble when he trumpeted Barack Obama's youthful cocaine use ... and kept trumpeting it as he was apologizing for it. Penn is also a pollster who purportedly identified the soccer mom phenomena. This year he also came out with a book called Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes. While many of the trends seems no more based in fact than the ones you see in your average newspaper, the book serves as a rare clearinghouse for trend ideas that can serve as a good starting point for investors.
The Wolf of Wall Street
And no year is complete without a look at Wall Street's underbelly. Few applied more dirt to Wall Street's underbelly than Jordan Belfort, known as a low man in a high place. He was the "Wolf of Wall Street," master of the bucket shop. His book is The Wolf of Wall Street: Stock Market Multimillionaire at 26, Federal Convict at 36, I Partied Like a Rock Star, Lived like a King, and Barely Survived My Rise and Fall as an American Entrepreneurial Icon (Bantam), and though I would not believe a word of it, I also would not risk missing it. Belfort is nothing if not a good storyteller and the dark side of Wall Street is an essential part of any year's literary canon.