Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/4/1
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Finally! A book about economics that wont put you to sleep. In fact, you wont be able to put this bestseller down. In our challenging economic climate, this perennial favorite of students and general readers is more than a good read, its a necessary investmentwith a blessedly sure rate of return. Demystifying buzzwords, laying bare the truths behind oft-quoted numbers, and answering the questions you were always too embarrassed to ask, the breezy Naked Economics gives readers the tools they need to engage with pleasure and confidence in the deeply relevant, not so dismal science.This revised and updated edition adds commentary on hot topics, including the current economic crisis, globalization, the economics of information, the intersection of economics and politics, and the historyand futureof the Federal Reserve.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to gain an understanding of basic economics with little pain and much pleasure.--Gary Becker, 1992 Nobel Prize winner in Economics
Bravo, Charles Wheelan, for doing the impossible: making the study of economics fascinating, comprehensible, and laugh-out-loud funny.--Deborah Copaken Kogan, author of Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War
Translates the arcane and often inscrutable jargon of the professional economist into language accessible to the inquiring but frustrated layman. . . . Clear, concise, informative, [and] witty.
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To quote Charles Wheelan (the authur): "This book is not for economics for dummies; it is for smart people who never studeid economics(or only have a vague recolection of doing so)."
If the above quote describes you then I fully recommend this book to anyone looking to increase thier knowledge on the subject of economics.
A word of warning (for socialists): Charles Wheelan is obviously an ardent capitalist and, as a result, the whole book was pro-capitalist and anti-everything else.
It has fundamentally changed my view on what constitutes an ideal government with regards to being a good promoter of a strong and thriving economy; that we need to be especially vigilant against corruption and over-regulation (corruption feeds off over-regulation, and both lead to lower economic growth). Trade, in the long-run, makes us all better off (rich and poor countries alike). This was an especially poignant argument in light of the current presidential race where Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both anti-trade.
Dr. Wheelan's arguments, taken as a whole, are neither conservative or liberal. He strikes a good balance in seeking the truth about how modern economies work, and more importantly, what makes them work better. For example, he makes the general argument that marginal rate tax-cuts can lead to more investment and economic activity, which in turn grows the economy. However he debunks the misguided (at best) political arguments that tax-cuts also lead to higher revenue.
I was also enlightened by his points about professional organizations (ABA, AMA, teacher's unions) and the barrier's to entry they artificially impose that can actually result in poorer outcomes. His example about "Cadillac lawyers" was amusing and make me think about high prices for legal services. Teacher's unions seek to protect their own at the expense of providing children a better education by lobbying for teacher certification requirements that research shows don't help children succeed (e.g. people with Phd's not legally allowed to teach high school). He makes a good argument for lowering these barriers of entry, along with eliminating absurd tenure rules that protect and reward under-performing teachers, to incentivize smart, competent people to enter become teachers.
These are just a very few examples in the book. As someone who has leaned left most of my life, I found Dr. Wheelan's book challenging, but refreshing. It challenged a lot of my preconceived notions of what good governance and policy means. But by no means is it a tea party manifesto. It's somewhere right in the center, where logic and rationality live.
What I also liked about this volume was the way in which it extended economic analysis to many areas of social / human behavior, but then would go no further, i.e., the author recognizes that economic analysis informs much of our public policy debates but cannot settle value-laden issues. For example, in his chapter on "Productivity and Human Capital", subtitled "Why is Bill Gates so much richer than you", he acknowledges that economics can tell us about the production of income and the creation of wealth, but can't really tell us how that income and wealth should be distributed. (Some prominent economists are on record as claiming that distribution issues are irrelevant.) This book maintains that these value-oriented issues are determined in the political process as shaped by our religious, moral, and cultural backgrounds.
I enjoyed this book very much. But I would challenge the author on two points: (1) He asserts that social security is a "pyramid scheme." While pay-as-you-go financing may superficially resemble a pyramid scheme, there are fundamental differences that any actuary at the SSA could tell you. Pyramid schemes are inherently unsustainable because of the geometric progression of the pool of investors. A pay-as-you-go system does not require increasing multiples of later-round investors but simply a stable relationship between workers and beneficiaries. Long-term economic growth and population growth would contribute to its sustainability. Our current problems refer to the demographic "bulge" of the baby-boomers which should disappear with their passing, (2) With regard to intellectual property (IP) the author (no surprise) comes down strongly for long-term protection for IP as an inducement to its creation, as opposed to less stringent protection that encourages the dissemination and use of IP. Obviously, there's a trade-off between creation and dissemination, but the current stress on protection may inhibit economic growth and innovation. How many firms pay (or refuse to pay and thus not use the IP) royalties for the use of "patents" that many would consider belong in the public domain? Do we really need copyright protection for 70 years after the author's death? Just one man's opinion.
I learned so much from this book, and my thinking about economic issues has a more solid framework for having read it. I’ve learned to evaluate and appreciate the vast intricacies that the impact of proposed “fixes” that float around the news would have, and now appreciate the power of productivity in remedying many of life’s difficulties. I highly recommend this book. It gives you ideas to ruminate on well past the pages, and plus it is enjoyable and thus easy to read.