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Economics Books That You Have Liked


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What have you found thought provoking and worth a read?

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I also enjoyed "Boring people talking about different types of crap coffee" but I can't find a link to that - it may be out of print, which shows you the priorities of the young nowadays!

ps has anyone read this? What did you think?

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For making me think, the book I'm currently reading:

Debt: the first 5000 years

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1933633867

In terms of worth a read, given the website we are on it has got to be "When money dies"

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1906964440

Oh and a special mention to "The mystery of banking" by Murray Rothbard. That's an enjoyable book about fractional reserve banking which is probably the highest praise you could give any economics book :)

I've also got two von Mises books I need to get around to someday. Theory of money and credit and Human Action. The latter is a lovely box set, well worth the money if you like books. I got a couple hundred pages through both and went off to something else, have to admit they are a touch on the dry side for me.

[edit for spelling]

Edited by Captain Mandrake
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Money for Nothing by Roger Bootle

Karl Marx biography by Frances Wheen (if only it because it made me realise how hypocritical socialism has been from its very beginnings, couched as they were in some concern for the workers but also for the egotism of the leaders)

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The Story of the Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "but what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15 - 20 years."

"But what then?" Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!"

"Millions - then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

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  • 5 weeks later...

Sort of in order, stuff that I would recommend

After the great complancence, Ewald Engelen et al.

The academic sociology that creeps in will get some people's backs up "bricolage" and "nomadic war machines" but it is very broad in conception taking in a lot of politics but also sharp on detail where it matters. There is for example the actual structure for Deutsche Bank's "Jazz" CDO and a pretty thorough attempt to demolish the idea that a large financial sector in the UK is the good news that City boosters make it out to be.

The truth about markets, John Kay

Pre-2008. Kay's academic credentials are pretty solid. It puts some flesh on the bones of markets as viewed by extreme market liberals.

All the devils are here, Bethany McLean & Joe Nocera

For my money the best of heavier books on the 2008 Financial Crisis aimed at a general audience

Paper promises, Philip Coggan

Plenty of history - great antidote to the idea that fiat money isn't as flaky as hell.

Griftopia, Matt Taibbi

The Rolling Stone guy. Very funny. Lots of industrial language. What's not to like

23 things they don't tell you about capitalism, Ha-Joon Chang

Whereas John Kay in "The truth about markets" seems to be basically arguing that things are more complicated than the market liberals would like to believe, Chang is actually trying to dismantle some of the arguments that favour a particular brand of contemporary capitalism. If you're a proper old school market fundamentalist, they'll be plenty here to wind you up but I found it more illuminating than Peter Schiff wittering on about rotten fish.

The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson

History, obviously, but good to be reassured that our present financial madness is neither new nor particularly mad in the grand scheme of things, yet.

Debt: The First 5,000 years, David Graeber

Not going to be everyone's cup of tea as it is essentially anthropology but for my money, fascinating. Seeing as the next decade at least is going to be a story about debt, if you're interested in what debt means, this is gold. Just full of ideas and perspectives which for most readers, self included, will be totally novel.

Whoops, John Lancaster

Noted by others - this is the one to recommend to people who are interested, but not really that interested - if you know what I mean. Short, readable. His thesis about the collapse of Communism is hardly nailed down but on the technical stuff he's solid.

Fool's gold, Gillian Tett

Interesting for the perspective on the creation of the market in credit derivatives. I doubt we've heard the last of them yet.

The return of depression economics, Paul Krugman

Krugman's advocacy of deficit spending makes him a divisive figure but provided you can make your peace with his theoretical perspective this is an interesting walk through of recent crises around the world with real or apparent similarities to our present unpleasantness with a sh!t ton of crummy lending.

Fault lines, Raghuram G. Rajan

Along with Nouriel Roubini and Steve Keen, Rajan has made it big in publishing on the basis of being identified as one of the economists who "saw it coming". He doesn't waste a word and as former chief economist of the IMF everything is written with a bit more of a global perspective, which makes a nice change from waiting for the latest Land Registry data.

Personal AVOID list

How an economy grows and why it crashes, Peter Schiff

This is an overtly political tract masquerading as a book about things that are supposedly so simple that all you need it the right cartoon book in order to understand them. Also there just isn't much in there. Again, if you were wanting a book to recommend to someone who just wasn't that interested in order to explain why fiat money is different to bars of gold, this probably wouldn't do any harm.

Debunking economics, Steve Keen

There may be a good book for the lay reader to be written about the shortcomings of the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Model of classical economics and the mission of a plucky band of dissident academic economists to do it in, but this isn't it. I'm in no position at all to judge the technicalities, it's just the book is bloody murder to read. A Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" for the twenty-first century, I suspect.

Currency wars, James Rickard

Coggan is just much, much better. About half of this describes Rickard's weekend war-gaming a currency war at the Pentagon - and he fails to bring much to the party as a writer.

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I enjoyed reading through your mini reviews because many of your comments matched my opinions of the books both of us have read. I was therefore a bit surprised with this:

The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson

History, obviously, but good to be reassured that our present financial madness is neither new nor particularly mad in the grand scheme of things, yet.

Whilst reading his putrid turgid prose, were you aware of how shocking Ferguson's real world investment and economic commentary has been i.e. GOLD IS FINISHED EXCEPT PERHAPS AS JEWELLERY (circa 1999), or Fergusons tenure as chief economic adviser to and investment branch of Lehman spanning a period of time in which their share values plummeted.

Perhaps you omitted to mention that Niall Ferguson is a servile establishment **** crawler whose opinions and theories are always invariably adapted so as to harmonise themselves with whatever ruling status quo that he is trying to suck up to?

Surely you simply forgot to state that Niall Ferguson needs to have his fat swollen fkn head lobbed in a cement mixer?

It really bothers me how many people fail to see through this pompous know-all propagandist establishment mouthpiece. Recommending Ferguson for those wishing to read up on economics is a bit like recommending Fox News to those wishing to read up on US foreign policy.

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Perhaps you omitted to mention that Niall Ferguson is a servile establishment **** crawler whose opinions and theories are always invariably adapted so as to harmonise themselves with whatever ruling status quo that he is trying to suck up to?

Surely you simply forgot to state that Niall Ferguson needs to have his fat swollen fkn head lobbed in a cement mixer?

It really bothers me how many people fail to see through this pompous know-all propagandist establishment mouthpiece. Recommending Ferguson for those wishing to read up on economics is a bit like recommending Fox News to those wishing to read up on US foreign policy.

Yeah - I suppose that the book does need a health warning on that marker. And I'll also buy the argument that he's a company man. That said I found the book covered a lot of ground where his prejudices weren't front and centre and where the historian's perspective - for example the relationship between bond issuance, bond speculation and wars - brought something to the party.

That said, I take your point. He's definitely got an axe to grind.

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  • 1 month later...

One I have read (and it is a LOOONG read:

Ayn Rand

"Atlas Shrugged".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_Shrugged

"The book explores a dogmatic dystopian United States where many of society's most productive citizens refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations and go on strike."

Ayn was even rumoured to have had an affair with Alan Greenspan.

This book was said to have inspired a lot of the silicon valley entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs.

One I haven't read yet:

The New Few by Ferdinand Mount

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-New-Few-British-Oligarchy/dp/1847378005

One that I have read and it explains a lot about why mainstream economists get it very wrong:

"New Paradigm in Macroeconomics:

Solving the Riddle of Japanese Macroeconomic Performance" by Prof Richard Werner."

More of a textbook "Modern mainstream economics is attracting an increasing number of critics of its high degree of abstraction and lack of relevance to economic reality. Economists are calling for a better reflection of the reality of imperfect information, the role of banks and credit markets, ......"

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  • 1 month later...

The big con. Clearly written and did more than any book to help me understand just how it all happened re derivs etc.

The Dying of Money is the original book on what happened in the Weimar years and WHY. I am beginning to wonder if when Money Dies is some sort of revisionist copy. If you can find it - its hands down THE book to read on the subject.

Road to Serfdom, although l haven't finished it - books like that are so dense.

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  • 2 months later...

Yeah - I suppose that the book does need a health warning on that marker. And I'll also buy the argument that he's a company man. That said I found the book covered a lot of ground where his prejudices weren't front and centre and where the historian's perspective - for example the relationship between bond issuance, bond speculation and wars - brought something to the party.

That said, I take your point. He's definitely got an axe to grind.

Got to say I too found The Ascent of Money a dull old dog. But the DVD of the telly series is a lot easier to digest, provided you can stand the sight of N. Ferguson looming large in every other shot! Also, the title. Surely the book was conceived as a celebration of Anglo-Saxon financial supremacy but betwixt cup and lip.. a reality bitch-slap.

On the other hand, I absolutely love Steve Keen's Debunking Economics. The chapters rubbishing Bernanke and Krugman are worth the price of admission alone.

Charles Ferguson's book-of-the-documentary Inside Job should be everyone's reading list. The crimes, the confessions, the politically motivated exculpations. Not one constituency of the moral swamp escapes his attention - pols, banksters, central banksters, academic economists, Wall Street shills. Righteous indignation.

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  • 8 months later...
  • 1 month later...

another vote for Atlas Shrugged - very good

The Crash of 2008 And What It Means: The New Paradigm For Financial Markets by Soros, George

Accounting for Growth: Stripping the Camouflage from Company Accounts by Smith, Terry

Barbarians at the Gate by Burrough, Bryan

Edited by JPJPJP
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  • 3 weeks later...
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I would like to recommend Where Does Money Come From? published by New Economic Foundation.The second edition seems to be a recent update so it feels very "current". Not too long either so easily digestible for the layman such as myself.

+1

Whilst Positive Money take a lot of stick on the boards for their proposed solutions to our present problems, "Where does money come from?", (authored by people who are closely associated with Positive Money), when read first and foremost as a primer on how our historically novel monetary system actually works is a crucial read, (somewhat dry and technical in parts, but what else would you expect from an approachable treatise on our monetary system!).

If you're someone who is (understandably) sceptical about critiques of fiat money that suggest that the tenner in your pocket is not quite what you always thought it was, then you'll take comfort from that fact that most striking claims are taken straight from the mouths of central bankers. The people who administrate the system know how it works - the fact that our naive conception of it misses the details is hardly their problem!

IMO anyone who professes to have an interest in house prices but can't find the time to get to grips the idea of money, the history of money as realised in human societies and last not but not least how the idea of money is realised in our society is taking a somewhat clownish approach to the problem. After all, when we say prices, we mean money prices.

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