My favorite books that have novel geo-economic analyses why oil crises & global banking crises happen at the same time

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a business journalist writing about Arab finance and oil at a time when few women were in that industry. Rather improbably, perhaps, I became well-known for correctly predicting trends – geopolitical and geo-economical. In my thirties, I shifted to the academy, becoming a director of energy research at Rice University in Houston and subsequently a sought-after advisor to government, corporations, and financial institutions. I wrote my first paper on oil crises while in high school (winning third prize in a state term paper contest) and have never left the subject. Now more than ever, the public needs to understand the real facts behind oil and financial crises. 

I wrote...

Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold

By Amy Myers Jaffe, Mahmoud A. El-Gamal,

Book cover of Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold

What is my book about?

Yet again, the world is experiencing global oil and banking crises amidst geopolitical turmoil. In the book, Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold, leading energy expert Amy Myers Jaffe and her co-author econometrician Mahmoud El-Gamal, lay out the thesis that there is a repeating cycle of global financial crises that is tied to the boom-bust oil price cycle and related ebbs and flows of petro-dollars to authoritarian regimes inclined to military excesses. 

Jaffe and El-Gamal lay out how transfers of wealth to and from the petro-states of the Middle East and Russia have more than once resulted in a perfect storm of financial market bubbles, inflation, and geopolitical conflict that all eventually become enmeshed into a global financial crisis.   

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Partial Hegemony: Oil Politics and International Order

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did I love this book?

Most international relations scholars see oil as a side show that doesn’t fit into their big picture balance of power paradigms.

Colgan breaks the mold to narrate how the history of oil crises reveals core truths about international relations and how different-sized countries can use coercion within a subsystem to assert influence over larger powers.

Colgan attacks his field’s Mearsheimerisque, longstanding premise that military security and strategic considerations exclusively drive geopolitical relations. Instead, he utilizes oil geopolitics as a subsystem to show how countries coerce each other through a larger variety of means (military, economic, and leadership selection, to name three) with a wider variety of goals.

In my view, Colgan’s subsystem model allows for a deeper understanding of what motivates countries and what tools they have to influence each other to gain strategic benefits.   

By Jeff D. Colgan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Partial Hegemony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The global history of oil politics, from World War I to the present, can teach us much about world politics, climate change, and international order in the twenty-first century.

When and why does international order change? The largest peaceful transfer of wealth across borders in all of human history began with the oil crisis of 1973. OPEC countries turned the tables on the most powerful businesses on the planet, quadrupling the price of oil and shifting the global distribution of profits. It represented a huge shift in international order. Yet, the textbook explanation for how world politics works-that the most…

Book cover of Oil, the State, and War: The Foreign Policies of Petrostates

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did I love this book?

There are many books that attempt to demonstrate a link between oil and war, and anyone who watches the news knows intuitively that such a link likely exists.

Ashford’s book lays out in brilliant detail how oil wealth is in some cases largely spent on military equipment (p. 74 to 81 covers Russia’s military modernization) and rightly asks the question if all this purchasing of armaments creates a “lubricant” to war. But she keeps open the option that the oil wealth-war connection is not destiny.

In closing chapters, she offers a few cases where oil states have chosen to use “soft power” and muses in the end that as oil’s days eclipse with the energy transition, the oil-war connection might similarly fade.  

By Emma Ashford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Oil, the State, and War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive challenge to prevailing understanding of international implications of oil wealth that shows why it can create bad actors

In a world where oil-rich states are more likely to start war than their oil-dependent counterparts, it's surprising how little attention is still paid to these so-called petrostates. These states' wealth props up the global arms trade, provides diplomatic leverage, and allows them to support violent and nonviolent proxies. In Oil, the State, and War, Emma Ashford explores the many potential links between domestic oil production and foreign policy behavior and how oil production influences global politics.

Not all petrostates…

Book cover of Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did I love this book?

One of the disadvantages to writing a book with any economics in it is just that, readers need to know a little economics to get the most out of your book.

But to grasp how oil and the dollar interact and why we wind up in repeating financial crises, you don’t have to go back and reread Keynes and Irving Fischer (on interest rates). In 2009, Nobel Prize-winning economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller wrote this easy-to-read and easy-to-understand book that critiques traditional economics (e.g. it’s dependence on “rational” actors) and dissects the building blocks one needs to know to grasp the ins and outs of economic cycles.

Importantly, they explain why people continue to believe they can make a fortune by investing at the top of the market (the confidence multiplier and contagion). Their book leads the reader through the basics on how bubbles (irrational exuberance) and panics ensue and what the role of regulators should be to prevent them. 

By George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Animal Spirits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The global financial crisis has made it painfully clear that powerful psychological forces are imperiling the wealth of nations today. From blind faith in ever-rising housing prices to plummeting confidence in capital markets, "animal spirits" are driving financial events worldwide. In this book, acclaimed economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller challenge the economic wisdom that got us into this mess, and put forward a bold new vision that will transform economics and restore prosperity. Akerlof and Shiller reassert the necessity of an active government role in economic policymaking by recovering the idea of animal spirits, a term John Maynard Keynes…

Book cover of Liar's Poker

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did I love this book?

The one thing I don’t like about most economics books is that they are overly antiseptic and highly divorced from the machismo gambling culture that drives speculative behavior in the first place and leads to the kinds of conditions that eventually create financial catastrophes.

My writing on economics is highly colored by the fact that I worked on Wall Street as a financial journalist at the height of the high-rolling, cocaine-rich, Salomon Brothers 1980s. But pick any subsequent bubble – Enron, Scion, FTX, the tech founder clients of SVB – it ultimately follows the same betting and bluffing storyline.

If you want to understand commodity markets, start by understanding the people who drive them. For that, there’s no better writer than Michael Lewis and no better book than his semi-autobiographical original effort, Liar’s Poker. The reason I prefer Liar’s Poker the most is not only because it covers the period of my youth, but because it is a first-hand account.

For Liar’s Poker, we get Michael Lewis’ front-row account, instead of a more dispassionate narrative based on interviews and documents.  

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Liar's Poker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Lewis was fresh out of Princeton and the London School of Economics when he landed a job at Salomon Brothers, one of Wall Street's premier investment firms. During the next three years, Lewis rose from callow trainee to bond salesman, raking in millions for the firm and cashing in on a modern-day gold rush. Liar's Poker is the culmination of those heady, frenzied years-a behind-the-scenes look at a unique and turbulent time in American business. From the frat-boy camaraderie of the forty-first-floor trading room to the killer instinct that made ambitious young men gamble everything on a high-stakes game…

Book cover of Market Madness: A Century of Oil Panics, Crises, and Crashes

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did I love this book?

For as long as I can remember, the oil industry has been saying oil is a finite resource and we are only a few years away from running dry.

It may be confusing to fathom how an industry can keep repeating that meme and have it continue to be believable. The key is understanding the cyclical nature of oil exploration and development and how the long lead time it takes to drill for new oil can lag behind a sudden burst of economic prosperity that creates more demand for energy virtually overnight. In essence, every oil shortage will eventually be temporary.

Market Madness is one of the few oil books that gets that right and uses history to prove its point. The book takes you back to the time of Andrew Carnegie and doesn’t get sucked into the idea that “easy to find” oil will eventually run out, empowering the Middle East more permanently.

When oil is expensive, we find new technologies and fuels to reduce dependence. That process is accelerating now. Putting the shift away from oil into the context of its historical booms and busts helps us avoid the false narratives and disinformation of the big oil powers going forward.   

By Blake C. Clayton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Market Madness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stock market booms are cause for celebration. But when oil prices soar because supplies are failing to keep up with demand, the response is nearly always apocalyptic. Predictions of the end of oil can create anxiety on Wall Street and in Washington, stoking fears that production has hit a ceiling and prices will rise in perpetuity. Yet these dire visions have always proven wrong.

Market Madness is the story of four waves of American anxiety over the last 100 years about a looming end to oil reserves. Their sweeping pattern-as large price increases lead to widespread shortage fears that eventually…

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The Good Woman's Guide to Making Better Choices

By Liz Foster,

Book cover of The Good Woman's Guide to Making Better Choices

Liz Foster Author Of The Good Woman's Guide to Making Better Choices

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved reading and its ability to take you far away to a distant time and place and lift you up. As a kid, I never left the house without a book, and the ones that made me laugh were my go-to's. I believe the ability to make people laugh is a truly special talent, especially while making the text relatable, so the reader’s always asking, wow, what would I do in that situation? My readers often tell me that my writing sounds just like me, which is wonderful because there’s no need to pretend. You will always know what you’ll get with me!

Liz's book list on make you laugh and leave you smiling

What is my book about?

A heart-warming and hilarious novel about the highs and lows of marriage, fraud, and goat’s cheese.

Libby Popovic is a country girl who’s now living a golden life in Bondi with her confident financier husband Ludo, and their two children. When Ludo is jailed for financial fraud, and Libby’s friends and family lose tens of thousands of dollars as a result, she feels agonisingly complicit.

Matters go from atrocious to worse when her possessions and home are repossessed, Libby is sacked, and a priceless family heirloom is wrecked. While camping out at the family goat farm, Libby must re-evaluate her life choices. How will she crawl out of financial ruin? Can she make amends? And can she save her family from falling apart?

The Good Woman's Guide to Making Better Choices

By Liz Foster,

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