This is the revised and expanded edition of a new kind of introduction to economics for the general public, without graphs, statistics, or jargon. However, the enlargement of this edition is not just more of the same. In addition to being updated, Basic Economics has also become more international, with the inclusion of economic problems from more countries around the world, because the basic principles of economics are not confined by national borders. Each chapter reflects the experiences of many different peoples and cultures.
©2004 Thomas Sowell; (P)2006 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Clear and concise....Among economists of the past 30 years, [Sowell] stands very proud indeed." (The Wall Street Journal)
"Basic Economics is not only valuable for a general lay-person audience, it would also benefit lawyers, politicians, and, yes, economists, as well." (Washington Times)
Though the things the book discusses are interesting, I feel the contents of the book could have been covered in 1/3 of the time. The authors keeps saying the same thing in several different ways... Probably an abridged version might have been better... but I still dont regret listening to it as it made the fundamentals of economics -- atleast the free market economics clear.
I recently started a Master's program in public policy and have become interested in economics. In class, I felt like I was learning the details without understanding the big picture, and I wanted to get more background information about the main schools of economic thought. When I read the reviews for this book, it seemed like conservatives loved it and liberals hated it. I tried finding a book that had more balanced appeal and couldn't find one, so I decided to listen to this one to get a better understanding of the economic orthodoxy and then to listen to Ha-Joon Chang's "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" to get the opposing view.
As for this book, first of all, the narrator is insufferable. He comes off as a pompous know-it-all. He never stopped irritating me, and it is a long book. However, what he was narrating was interesting, so I gritted my teeth and kept going.
Thomas Sowell has managed to write a very clear and easy to understand book about economics. He is very convincing on some topics. He thoroughly convinced me, for example, that rent control is a bad idea. Also, I work for a nonprofit, and his analysis of the incentives in the nonprofit sector made me chuckle: they sounded very familiar.
At the same time, his analysis occasionally struck me as oversimplified and biased. The following are a few examples:
* He makes the claim that economists have concluded that FDR's policies needlessly prolonged the Great Depression but then doesn't back it up at all. I was actually quite curious to hear the reasoning behind this conclusion, but it was never given.
* He notes that financial markets raised the price of Brazilian debt after the leftwing Luis Inacio Lula da Silva was elected president, implying that a leftist presidency was bound to be an economic disaster (the book was published in 2004). In fact, Lula presided over huge growth, and Brazil has since become a major player in the world economy.
* He argues that private companies run utilities better than the public sector and gives the example of Argentina as a place where private provision of water was a great success. He does not mention Bolivia, where a private consortium took over water provision, hugely jacked up prices, and caused a widespread public revolt known as "the water war."
* He blames the California electricity crisis on the policies of state government without mentioning Enron's manipulation of the energy market.
* He calls into question whether "dumping" can be proved to exist. He cites some examples where it is hard to prove (if I remember correctly, all were in the context of developing nations dumping products on first world markets), but he does not mention the sale of subsidized American agricultural products in Latin American markets, which is widely viewed as dumping. He rails against agricultural subsidies in other parts of the book, so it seems hard to deny that these products are sold below cost.
Overall, I thought it was a very interesting and well-written book that provides a good primer of mainstream economic thought. It was written before the 2008 crisis, so I'm curious whether any of his thinking has changed since then. At the same time, I'm glad I'm also reading Ha-Joon Chang's book because this one seems oversimplified: examples that don't support his overall thesis are glossed over or ignored.
I was hoping for an unbiased book that would just go into the basics of economics. This does cover economic concepts but only as it relates to how great unregulated capitalism is for everyone. While this may be true, and I am not arguing one way or another, I was more interested in learning about economics without a slant (liberal or conservative) so I could form my own opinions.
Overall, this is not a bad book. Just wasn't what I was looking for or expecting.
Very good book. Easy to listen to.
Sowell brings clarity to a subject that is usually poorly understood by most people. The book will take the reader to a different level of comprehension of economics and dispel many well entrenched myths. Should be mandatory reading to anyone in positions of management.
To a beginner, it's a great introductory book to economics. It's full of real-life examples with companies that are well-known and they make the theories easy to understand.
A long-time fan of Dr. Sowell's articles, I greatly enjoyed the way he presents economics principles in such a practical and understandable way. Subjects like commodities markets and the federal reserve that seemed beyond the realm of understanding for mere mortals become almost simple to grasp as the basic principles are presented in a logical and uncomplicated fashion. Wish it was required reading for more public officials, espcially senators running for president who confess not knowing much about the economy.
An retired entrepreneur and educator, who is having trouble staying retired.
This book should be required reading in every high school in the country. It explains very simply why a market economy is the most efficient and thus delivers the highest standard of living for its participants. It points out where much that passes as common knowledge is wrong and why. Even those of us in the business world start to believe some of the common statements in the media about economics as we all here them day in and day out. It was nice to feel grounded again to be reminded how and why the system works and what happens when government tries to circumvent the market. Read it then give it to your kids.
Professor Sowell presents a first-class coverage of economics and why it is important for all members of society to have a core understanding of economic principals.
Excellent overview of economics accessible to anybody, clearly explains why individualism and a free market economy are the foundations of a prosperous society and what happens when you mess with it.
This book is simply a revelation about local, national, and global economics. It challenged many of my beliefs and long held assumptions. I agree with a previous reviewer; this book should be required reading in every high school.
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