• Briefly Noted
  • From the Bookshelf

    “The Wall Street Journal Complete Estate Planning Guidebook” (Crown Business, 2011) gives a comprehensive overview of strategies for protecting and passing on your wealth. Included in the book are discussions about wills, living wills, taxes, trusts, life insurance, probate and charitable contributions.

    The breadth of the topics covered made it difficult to discuss any single strategy or trust in depth. Yet author Rachel Emma Silverman deserves credit for pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of various products and strategies. For example, she points out that an irrevocable trust can minimize estate taxes, but it can also be costly and complex. This is a good book for learning about the various estate planning options and developing a checklist of questions to ask when researching those topics further. It is not a thorough and detailed reference book on the subject, however.

    A nice inclusion is a selection of links to useful websites, such as Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? (www.yellowpieplate.umn.edu). This site gives guidelines on how to talk about inheritance. Silverman also includes links for useful services such as finding estate lawyers (www.actec.org; click on “Fellows”) and arranging for the care of pets (2ndchance4pets.org).

    Investors wanting to track China’s economic growth will enjoy reading “Understanding China’s Economic Indicators: Translating the Data Into Investment Opportunities” (FT Press, 2012). This book provides in-depth explanations of China’s economic reports.

    Author Tom Orlik walks readers through each data point, explaining what they measure and how they are calculated. He conveniently gives a brief overview that lists how much potential market impact a particular indicator has and where readers can find English or Chinese news about the data.

    The author does not shy away from problems with China’s economic data. Rather he addresses the issue in the first chapter, and then carries on the conversation as it applies to specific indicators. For example, he points out two instances where the country likely overestimated and underestimated its economic growth. Orlik describes the quality of China’s reporting as “increasingly reliable and comprehensive,” while also acknowledging that “some data points are more reliable than others.”

    Though this is not a book that will appeal to every investor, it is a worthy read for those who are interested in economic data or investing in Asia.


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