Money! Money! Money!

The Future of Money
By: Bernard Lietaer
Publisher: Random House
Price: $34.95
Money, the root of all evil? Bernard Lietaer suggests rather that it is “the root of all possibilities”. This thoughtful book focuses on the possible impact of four converging megatrends which, he predicts, will collide over the next 20 years.
Climate change and loss of biodiversity; unprecedented growth in the number of elderly (the Age Wave); monetary instability; and an information revolution will, by 2020, compact in way that will precipitate monetary, environmental and social crisis. That is, unless something is done about the money component.
Lietaer offers new, cautionary, but not entirely pessimistic scenario of the next 20 years. His advocacy of sustainability is firmly fixed on the need to overhaul and entirely re-think the role and relationship the world has with money.
The book is not about how to make, invest or spend money. “There are already plenty of books about all that.” It is about the concept of money and how different money systems shape different societies. We are, he warns, going to have to “change as much in our consciousness about money over the next 20 years as we have over the past 5000 years”.
The author’s credentials are impeccable. Central banker, currency funds manager, consultant and academic, Lietaer has spent most of his distinguished career working with, making, losing and trying to understand the function of money.
The book argues that it is not just the lack of money that is precipitating present world trends and preventing us from addressing current challenges. It is the “limited functionality of our money and monetary system” that is major force behind our present disorders.
Lietaer outlines and argues his case cogently, with care and with compelling evidence. most interesting read whether you subscribe to the theory or not. mind expander.

The Mystery of Capital
By: Hernando de Soto
Publisher: Random House
Price: $27.95
Subtitled “why capitalism triumphs in the west and fails everywhere else”, The Mystery of Capital is almost the antithesis of the book reviewed above. It is no less interesting, and equally elegantly argued. De Soto is not monetarist – he is committed capitalist, with dramatically different spin on the economic argument.
De Soto suggests that property ownership is the key to ending poverty – but it only works if the poor can use their property to generate further wealth. He attempts to demonstrate that the stumbling block that prevents the rest of the world from benefiting from capitalism is its inability to produce capital.
The poor everywhere are, in fact, rich in assets according to de Soto. The problem is they “hold these assets in defective forms: houses built on land whose ownership rights are not adequately recorded, unincorporated businesses with undefined liability, industries located where financiers and investors cannot see them”. Because the rights to these possessions are not adequately documented the assets cannot readily be turned into capital, traded or used as collateral for loan and used as share against an investment.
In the West, by contrast, every parcel of land, every building, every piece of equipment and so on is represented in property document that is the visible sign of vast hidden process that connects all these assets to the rest of the economy.
De Soto writes with conviction and clarity and attempts to explain what he thinks capital is and why it does not benefit five sixths of mankind. He also proposes solution: enabling the poor to turn the vast assets they possess into wealth. surprisingly subversive and important contribution to critical debate.

Retire Young Retire Rich
By: Robert T Kiyosaki with Sharon L Lechter
Publisher: Tech Press
Price: $34.95
A rash of money rather than management books hit my desk in recent weeks. This one hardly needs an introduction. It is sequel to last year’s top selling Rich Dad Poor Dad and another in the series. It will probably prove just as successful – for the author.
Not my kind of book I’m afraid but, for those bent on becoming rich it no doubt contains the odd helpful hint. Books like this take real commitment – both to read and to live by.
It purportedly shows how Robert Kiyosaki and his wife “started with nothing, and retired financially free in less than 10 years”.
The first four books in the Rich Dad series were primarily about the power of cash flow. This one is about leverage. According to the promotion material it focuses on three important forms of leverage which are: the leverage of your mind, your plan and your actions.
Good luck and good fortune.

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