Books on economy
March 30, 2008 8:43 PM   Subscribe

What is a good intro book on economy?

I recently watched Money as Debt, and have to say that I didn't know much about how money is created, how banks operate, etc.

I am looking for books that explain all facets of economy, specially if they have a critical analysis of the current setup (I did feel that Money as Debt may have been somewhat one-sided). Maybe with the writing style of current non-fiction books like Freakonomics.
posted by raheel to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Brad DeLong recommends Doug Henwood's Wall Street, which is now freely available online.
posted by tew at 9:01 PM on March 30, 2008

I would urge you to get a standard principles of economics textbook. It’s good to understand the views and ideas of mainstream economists before getting too involved in the critiques. There are lots of good principles texts out there (Mankiw, Krugman/Wells) but a really great one is Principles of Economics by Robert Frank and Ben Bernanke. (used copies are pretty cheap). This book has great examples and stories.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 9:30 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

David Warsh of Economic Principals strongly recommends Partha Dasgupta's Economics: A Very Short Introduction.
The primer I have enjoyed most, the one I would recommend to a friend who wanted to learn how economists think about the world right now, is one that passed almost completely unnoticed into the stream, perhaps because it is so slight. But then, that is the point of Economics: A Very Short Introduction, by Partha Dasgupta, the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at Cambridge University. He boils down everything that’s ordinarily included in a thousand-page introductory text, and more, to 160 graceful but undersized pages. (The book is one of an interminable list of Very Short Introductions — to everything from Anarchy, Anglicanism and Animal Rights to Schizophrenia, the World Trade Organization and, coming soon, Chaos — from Oxford University Press.)
posted by cgc373 at 9:42 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have recommended Philip Coggan's The Money Machine to several friends, to uniformly positive reviews.

It is mainly London-focused however the discussions about, for example, the links between inflation and interest rates are fairly universal.
posted by mooders at 12:14 AM on March 31, 2008

I know you want a book but personally I have found a subscription to The Economist to be a great introduction to the field. They have some basic explanatory articles as well as a tendency of cover some of the interesting niche subjects beloved of books like Freakonomics. Every so often they get things spectacularly wrong (iraq invasion=good idea, global warming=made up, 1999 oil prices=in terminal decline) - but hey - that's Economics.
posted by rongorongo at 2:45 AM on March 31, 2008

I find economics interesting, but long ago I decided the whole thing was too complex to really ever understand. So, I treat it like I do physics - I only read the popular books and watch the Nova specials. All the fascination without the need to do math. Same goes for economics. The best book I have ever read on the topic is New Ideas from Dead Economists. It is a primer on all the great economists and their thought. It interjects some humanity into the abstract wonders of monetary policy and the like. At the end of reading it you will not only know the various economists and their schools of thought, but you will also understand the historical growth of economics as a field. Oh, and it includes a chapter on Marx just for giggles.
posted by boubelium at 2:54 AM on March 31, 2008

This is a great book for a non-economist 'The Worldly Philosophers' by Robert Heilbroner. Easy to read, and a great historical perspective. My wife and I read it on a round the world trip. Seemed like a worthy thing to do, but was actually just really good.
posted by steve3001 at 3:21 AM on March 31, 2008

I can recommend two books on that topic. They are 'Economics: A Self-Teaching Guide' by Steve Slavin, and 'Basic Economics: A Citizens Guide to the Economy' by Thomas Sowell.

These are both educational and enlightening books, yet easy to intellectually digest. Thomas Sowell's book will especially have you thinking very clearly about the world around you.
posted by hardbodymaker at 3:50 AM on March 31, 2008

Naked Economics is engaging and somewhat similar to Freakonomics in style, but not in structure.

And it's funny.
posted by zazerr at 7:01 AM on March 31, 2008

Paul Krugman, The Age of Diminished Expectations (1994).
posted by russilwvong at 9:57 AM on March 31, 2008

P.J. O'Rourke's commentary on Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations". Smith is some heavy reading, and O'Rourke makes makes a creditable stab at summarizing it in his own snarky style.
posted by willconsult4food at 2:55 PM on March 31, 2008

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