What We’re Reading in June
Monte Largo’s staff are notorious bookworms, so we’re happily participating in the Summer reading season. Here are a couple of books we’re reading this month that helped us find connections between personal finance and other important subjects.
The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, by Peter Singer
This book is among the recommended reads by one of our favorite personal finance bloggers, Mr. Money Mustache. The book offers readers a stark challenge to significantly increase the percentage of our income that we spend on charity. This argument might be jarring to those of us focused on maximizing our savings rate to achieve financial independence, but author Peter Singer’s reasoning complements financial goals like frugal living and wise investing by attempting to answer two important questions: 1) “How much of our disposable income is reasonable and ethical to spend on charity?” and 2) “How should we spend our charitable dollars most effectively?”
The answers to these questions are surprising but well supported by academic research. Peter Singer argues persuasively that wisely targeted charitable giving can produce significant positive results for those suffering from extreme poverty. His book rightly reminds us that we should be just as thoughtful in our charitable donations as we are in any other investment decision we make.
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, by Michael Lewis
This is the second book by Michael Lewis that we’ve read (the first was The Big Short, which covered the mortgage bubble that led to the 2007 financial crisis). As always, Michael Lewis writes about surprising and shocking stories from the most human perspective possible.
In detailing the history of High Frequency Trading in the US and the key players instrumental in exposing its questionable business model, Lewis reminds us why we believe so strongly in our core values. There are ways to make money without a scam or by bending the law. Despite the bad actors who will try and occasionally succeed at front running or hoodwinking investors, there are those who strongly believe in stopping these activities. At Monte Largo, we believe that there are many simple, ethical paths to wealth that are more rewarding in the long run for the average investor. We’re glad that Lewis is drawing attention to the problematic aspects of high frequency trading, and we’re encouraged that small investors have a voice in a financial industry which can often seem lacking in moral duty to the clients it serves.