A World of Chance: Betting on Religion, Games, Wall Street / Edition 2

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Overview

Although financial markets often try to distance themselves from gambling, the two factors have far more in common than usually thought. When, historically there were no financial institutions such as banks, lotteries constituted the ways by which expensive items were disposed of, and governments raised money quickly. Gambling tables fulfilled roles that venture capital and banking do today. “Gamblers” created clearinghouses and sustained liquidity. When those gamblers bet on price distributions in futures markets, they were redefined as “speculators.” Today they are called “hedge fund managers” or “bankers.” Though the names have changed, the actions undertaken have essentially stayed the same. This book shows how discussion on “chance,” “risk,” “gambling,” “insurance,” and “speculation” illuminates where societies stood, where we are today, and where we may be heading.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Did you know that the modern insurance industry is a direct outgrowth of gambling? Did you know that poker provided one of the most important sources of capital for penniless Western frontiersmen in the United States? Did you know that major opera houses of Europe began as gambling halls with the theaters attached (history, if not always the quality of music, repeats itself in Las Vegas)? Do you know the real reason the NFL resists the legalization of sports betting in America? For the fascinating answers and insights into the politics, the finance, and the economics of that over-maligned pastime, gambling, and, yes, including the surprising role it has frequently played in finance – read A World of Chance. The odds are strong that you will love it." - Henry G. Manne, Dean Emeritus, George Mason Law School

"A World of Chance undermines our usual view of 'economic man' and substitutes the angst-ridden, uncertain denizen of a world that offers no certainties and requires risk-taking as a matter of survival.... For providing a theoretical foundation for the counter-intuitive behavior of American taxpayers, the Brenners deserve the Nobel Prize in economics." - Asia Times

"No one since Joseph Schumpeter has done more than Reuven Brenner to put risk-taking and innovation at the center of economic theory." - Laury Minard, Forbes

"...a fine, freshly produced reference for those presenting the argument about pros and cons of gambling versus Wall Street and how they compare in the 21st Century." - Howard Schwartz, The Gamblers Bookshop

"A World of Chance puts up a stout defense of gambling both as a form of entertainment and source of hope.... The book does an excellent job of disassembling all the bogus arguments for keeping lotteries and other forms of gambling under state control, and in particular highlights the self-interested nature of the assault on internet gaming, which is a threat neither to national security nor public morals." - Peter Foster, National Post

"The relationship between gambling and finance (let alone religion and politics) eludes even the most erudite among us because it is clouded in misunderstanding, prejudice and good, old-fashioned politics. Reuven Brenner, Gabrielle A. Brenner, and Aaron Brown have written several books in praise of gambling. In this book, they draw insights from sociological theories of gambling and propose a risk-taking model of expected utility. They use it to disentangle the relationship between fortune and providence, democracy and autocracy, chance and mobility. It is a tall order, but... they succeed admirably." - Nikolaos Zahariadis, Perspectives on Politics

Praise for Gambling and Speculation:
"Brenner is one of the freshest writers I have read in economics, willing to introduce himself into his prose and express (sometimes outrageous) opinions. I like to read him." - Richard C. Rockwell, Social Science Research Council

Praise for Rivalry:
"This is an important book. Schumpeter would have been impressed." - Graham Bannock, Business Economist

Asia Times
A World of Chance undermines our usual view of "economic man" and substitutes the angst-ridden, uncertain denizen of a world that offers no certainties, and requires risk-taking as a matter of survival ... Permit me to leave the thought that for providing a theoretical foundation for the counter-intuitive behavior of American taxpayers, the Brenners deserve the Nobel Prize in economics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521884662
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/4/2008
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Reuven Brenner holds the Repap Chair in the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and is a partner in Match Strategic Partners. The author of seven other books, including Gambling and Speculation (Cambridge University Press, 1990, with Gabrielle A. Brenner) and Rivalry: In Business, Science, Among Nations (Cambridge University Press, 1987), he examines what makes societies and firms leapfrog over others or fall behind them. The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Times of London, Asia Times, and Smart Money have reviewed his books. He has also served as a consultant to companies such as the Bank of America, Bell Canada, and Knowledge Universe, and he has worked with financial institutions throughout North America. Brenner has also been a frequent commentator in leading media around the world. Forbes Global's columnists have put two of Professor Brenner's titles on their list of recommended books for all time and profiled him in a cover story titled 'Leapfrogging'. He has served on the board of several companies, received a Fulbright Fellowship and the Killam Award, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Gabrielle A. Brenner is Associate Professor of Economics at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Montreal, Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago and has written about risk taking, entrepreneurship, and anti-trust. Professor Brenner worked at Lexecon and has also served as a consultant to the World Bank, UNIDO, and CIDA.

Aaron Brown is risk manager for AQR Capital Management in Greenwich, CT. He holds degrees in applied mathematics from Harvard University and finance from the University of Chicago. He has worked as a trader, portfolio manager, head of mortgage security, and risk manager for such Wall Street firms as Morgan Stanley and Citigroup; taught finance at Fordham and Yeshiva universities; and ran a public mutual fund. Mr Brown is the author of The Poker Face of Wall Street.

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Table of Contents

1. From religion to risk management - what do you do when facing uncertainty?; 2. Anything wrong with gambling as a pastime?; 3. Are you rich? Risk-taking, gambling, and the leapfrogging instinct; 4. Betting on futures; 5. Gambling - as banking: poker, junk bonds and central banks; 6. 'Lottery is a taxation, and Heav'n be prais'd, it is easily rais'd'; 7. Politics and prohibitions, or, what's a good tax anyway?; 8. How gamblers and risk-takers correct the future; Appendix 1. Gambling and risk-taking: the leapfrogging instinct; Appendix 2. Human nature and the 'civilizing' process; Appendix 3. A statistical profile of gamblers.

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