readable books about economics

readable books about economics - Extremely Readable Books...

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Extremely Readable Books About Economics (** indicates that the book is widely recognized as a “classic”.) Paul Krugman (formerly MIT, now Princeton) Paul Krugman was once described in The Economist as the “economics profession’s most horribly bright young man”. He is now older but still horribly bright, and in recent years he has become well-known outside the profession mostly from his regular columns in the New York Times . He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, least of all the fools he perceives to be leading the current U.S. administration. The first book below was written in the late 1980s, before he was as famous as he now is. The next two books are collections of his newspaper and magazine articles. All of it is extremely readable, and filled with lots of good insights about economics. Over time, he has become more opinionated (more “normative” and less “positive”) but he is rarely boring. And his views, even if one disagrees with them, are always worth taking seriously and thinking about. I have just recently finished re-reading Pop Internationalism and I am reminded about how good it is and how important it is that people read and understand the basic arguments. The title is Krugman’s derogatory term for the style of analysis that pervades public discourse about the costs and benefits of international trade. What particularly bothers Krugman, for good reason, is the popular notion that countries “compete” against each other in the same way that corporations compete. Understanding why this is not so is important to understand the nature of the benefits from globalization and international trade. Also important are his discussions about why productivity growth in developing countries does not provide a “threat” to living standards in the rich, developed countries. This book really is a “must read”! The Age of Diminished Expectations (1988?) Peddling Prosperity: Economic Sense and Nonsense in the Age of Diminished Expectations Pop Internationalism (1996) Robert Barro (Harvard) Robert Barro is a very smart macroeconomist clearly from the “right wing” of the political spectrum, even among economists. This book is a collection of his very readable magazine and newspaper articles, most of which articulate in some way or another how markets work well and how government intervention often does more harm than good. As smart as he is, he is unfortunately better known (within the profession) for his knowledge of his own intelligence than for his intelligence itself. A genuine shame. Getting it Right: Markets and Choices in a Free Society (1996)
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Alan Blinder (Princeton, former Fed Vice Chairman) On the left-right spectrum among economists, Alan Blinder probably lies near the centre, or perhaps a little to the left of centre (much like Paul Krugman). (Of course, for the population as a whole, this still makes him a lunatic right-winger!) This book, written in the late 1980s, is a lovely description of how good economic policy could be “hard headed”, which means thinking carefully about
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This note was uploaded on 09/12/2008 for the course ECON 219 taught by Professor Ragan during the Fall '08 term at McGill.

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readable books about economics - Extremely Readable Books...

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