Economics for Dummies?
September 5, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Looking for good resources on economic theory for the previously non-inclined? Particularly interested in New Institutional Economics (Williamson, North) and Commons Economics (Ostrom). Probably need some grounded in the orthodox stuff as well?
posted by lalalana to Education (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
That's pretty broad and not sure what you mean by orthodox stuff. I liked the The Worldly Philosophers for a basic over view of classical thinking. I'm an international development guy and in that vain I would add Hernando de Soto and Bill Easterly to your list. Best development book I have recently less theory based in Poor Economics by Banerjee and Duflo. Haven't read Milton Friedman's Free to Choose, but probably good if you want a new-classical view. Check out some econ blogs too, I learn a lot of this type of stuff reading marginal revolution.
posted by akabobo at 11:40 AM on September 5, 2012

Worldly Philosophers and New Ideas From Dead Economists are my favorite recommendations for starting econ theory. Reading both is probably redundant, but either one is a good "first" book.
posted by Lifeson at 11:58 AM on September 5, 2012

I don't think any of these authors are really unapproachable even for a newbie -- North and Ostrom certainly not, nor is Coase (who you didn't mention but ought to try his "Theory of the Firm" article as that's in large part the foundation that neoinstitutionalism is built on). I haven't looked at Williamson recently enough to remember.

Honestly, I'd recommend just having something that can read wikipedia with you to query when you hit concepts that you don't quite grok and they're not telling you about. WTF is this marginal cost crap? Why do these prisoners have a dilemma? Etc.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:30 PM on September 5, 2012

Coincidentally, Marginal Revolution University was announced today. Their first course will be developmental economics, rather than the stuff you've mentioned, but it should be interesting.

The related Econolib blog has a set of topics that will delve into a number of economic ideas. Russ Roberts EconoTalk podcast is usually interesting, and is a good look at the economic way of thinking. There should be episodes touching on the topics you've mentioned (they have a search function, for example). Mind you, these George Mason University (generally) economics blogs take a very Hayekian view of things.
posted by chengjih at 2:26 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: These are great! I'll check out the recommendations.

ROU_X is right that there's a lot of grok and and wikipedia has been my friend.
posted by lalalana at 5:01 PM on September 5, 2012

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