venerdì 31 ottobre 2008

LETTURE: "Cold Steel" by Tim Bouquet & Byron Ousey

Cold Steel: The Multi-billion-dollar Battle for a Global Industry
Tim Bouquet & Byron Ousey (Little Brown Book Group)

/Cold Steel/ is the gripping story of the world's biggest and most hard-fought industry takeover of recent years, an epic corporate battle that would send shockwaves through the political corridors of Europe, excite the world's financial markets, enrich thirty hedge funds and transform the global steel industry. In 2006, the two largest steel-producers went head to head in a bitter battle for total market domination. Lakshmi Mittal, a Calcutta-born industrialist who had raised himself up from humble beginnings to become the world's fourth-richest man, proposes a friendly merger with rival Arcelor, a pan-European company whose interested parties include the governments of Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium. Arcelor's mercurial CEO, Frenchman Guy Dolle, firmly refuses, and the scene is set for a massive hostile takeover involving billions of dollars of finance, government and shareholder manoeuvring, and accusations of jingoism and double-dealing. Cold Steel brings to life the cut and thrust of big business at war.

Tim Bouquet is a journalist writer, editor, broadcaster and traveller who contributes to leading titles including the /Telegraph Magazine/ and The Times Magazine. He wrote the first British magazine profile of Lakshimi Mittal for the /Daily Telegraph Magazine/, with the full cooperation of and access to the Mittal family and senior figures at Mittal Steel.

Byron Ousey is a managing director with Gavin Anderson, an international financial public relations consultancy that specialises in advising governments and major cooperations on takeovers and mergers. During the Mittal-Arcelor battle he advised the Luxembourg government on their communications strategy.

LETTURE: "A Splendid Exchange" by William Bernstein

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Has Shaped the World from Prehistory to the Present
William Bernstein (Atlantic Books)

Few historical enquiries tell us as much about the world we live in today as the search for the origins of world trade. As Adam Smith observed, man has an intrinsic 'propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another.' From the dawn of recorded history there has been vigorous long-distance commerce. Archaeologists have even found evidence of the prehistoric conveyance over long distances of strategic materials such as obsidian and stone tools. To demonstrate how profoundly trade influences our lives try to imagine Italian cuisine without the tomato, or a cafe anywhere in the world beyond coffee's birthplace in Yemen. /A Splendid Exchange/ sets out to establish just what drove early man to trade and to examine its profound influence on the world we know today. William Bernstein goes on to suggest that an analysis of one of the globe's most ancient forms of communication might teach us about how to avoid seemingly new anxieties about globalisation and the flattening of the world.

/A Splendid Exchange/ challenges assumptions on both sides of the great ideological divide over free trade.

William J. Bernstein is a financial theorist. He is known for his research in the field of Modern Portfolio Theory and for his self-help finance books for individual investors who wish to manage their own equity portfolios. Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry and an M.D. in neurology; he practiced neurology until retiring from the field. He currently lives in Oregon, USA.