"The economy isn't] a bunch of rather dull statistics with names like GDP (gross domestic product)," notes Tim Harford, columnist and regular guest on NPR's Marketplace, "economics is about who gets what and why." In this acclaimed and riveting book-part expos , part user's manual-the astute and entertaining columnist from the Financial Times demystifies the ways in which money works in the world. From why the coffee in your cup costs so much to why efficiency is not necessarily the answer to ensuring a fair society, from improving health care to curing crosstown traffic-all the dirty little secrets of dollars and cents are delightfully revealed by The Undercover Economist."A rare specimen: a book on economics that will enthrall its readers . . . It brings the power of economics to life."
-Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics
"A playful guide to the economics of everyday life, and as such is something of an elder sibling to Steven Levitt's wild child, the hugely successful Freakonomics."
-The Economist "A tour de force . . . If you need to be convinced of the everrelevant and fascinating nature of economics, read this insightful and witty book."
-Jagdish Bhagwati, author of In Defense of Globalization
"This is a book to savor."
-The New York Times "Harford writes like a dream. From his book I found out why there's a Starbucks on every corner and] how not to get duped in an auction. Reading The Undercover Economist is like spending an ordinary day wearing X-ray goggles."
-David Bodanis, author of Electric Universe "Much wit and wisdom."
-The Houston Chronicle
From Publishers Weekly
Nattily packaged-the cover sports a Roy Lichtensteinesque image of an economist in Dick Tracy garb-and cleverly written, this book applies basic economic theory to such modern phenomena as Starbucks' pricing system and Microsoft's stock values. While the concepts explored are those encountered in Microeconomics 101, Harford gracefully explains abstruse ideas like pricing along the demand curve and game theory using real world examples without relying on graphs or jargon. The book addresses free market economic theory, but Harford is not a complete apologist for capitalism; he shows how companies from Amazon.com to Whole Foods to Starbucks have gouged consumers through guerrilla pricing techniques and explains the high rents in London (it has more to do with agriculture than one might think). Harford comes down soft on Chinese sweatshops, acknowledging "conditions in factories are terrible," but "sweatshops are better than the horrors that came before them, and a step on the road to something better." Perhaps, but Harford doesn't question whether communism or a capitalist-style industrial revolution are the only two choices available in modern economies. That aside, the book is unequaled in its accessibility and ability to show how free market economic forces affect readers' day-to-day.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Harford exposes the dark underbelly of capitalism in Undercover Economist. Compared with Steven Levitt's and Stephen J. Dubner's popular Freakonomics (*** July/Aug 2005), the book uses simple, playful examples (written in plain English) to elucidate complex economic theories. Critics agree that the book will grip readers interested in understanding free-market forces but disagree about Harford's approach. Some thought the author mastered the small ideas while keeping in sight the larger context of globalization; others faulted Harford for failing to criticize certain economic theories and to ground his arguments in political, organizational structures. Either way, his case studies--some entertaining, others indicative of times to come--will make you think twice about that cup of coffee.
Copyright (c) 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
In this book, Eric Hobsbawm chronicles the events and trends that led to the triumph of private enterprise and its exponents in the years between 1848 and 1875. Along with Hobsbawm's other volumes, this book constitutes and intellectual key to the origins of the world in which we now live.
Although it pulses with great events--failed revolutions, catastrophic wars, and a global depression--The Age of Capital is most outstanding for its analyis of the trends that created the new order. With the sweep and sophistication that have made him one of our greatest historians, Hobsbawm indentifies this epoch's winners and losers, its institutions, ideologies, science, and religion.
In this grand-scale narrative history, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist H. W. Brands brilliantly portrays the emergence, in a remarkably short time, of a recognizably modern America.American Colossus captures the decades between the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century, when a few breathtakingly wealthy businessmen transformed the United States from an agrarian economy to a world power. From the first Pennsylvania oil gushers to the rise of Chicago skyscrapers, this spellbinding narrative shows how men like Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller ushered in a new era of unbridled capitalism. In the end America achieved unimaginable wealth, but not without cost to its traditional democratic values.
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
ONE OF THE ECONOMIST'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS' TOP BOOK "An intelligent explanation of the mechanisms that produced the crisis and the response to it...One of the great strengths of Tooze's book is to demonstrate the deeply intertwined nature of the European and American financial systems."--The New York Times Book Review From a prizewinning economic historian, an eye-opening reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its ten-year aftermath) as a global event that directly led to the shockwaves being felt around the world today. We live in a world where dramatic shifts in the domestic and global economy command the headlines, from rollbacks in US banking regulations to tariffs that may ignite international trade wars. But current events have deep roots, and the key to navigating today's roiling policies lies in the events that started it all--the 2008 economic crisis and its aftermath. Despite initial attempts to downplay the crisis as a local incident, what happened on Wall Street beginning in 2008 was, in fact, a dramatic caesura of global significance that spiraled around the world, from the financial markets of the UK and Europe to the factories and dockyards of Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, forcing a rearrangement of global governance. With a historian's eye for detail, connection, and consequence, Adam Tooze brings the story right up to today's negotiations, actions, and threats--a much-needed perspective on a global catastrophe and its long-term consequences.
How America's high standard of living came to be and why future growth is under threat
In the century after the Civil War, an economic revolution improved the American standard of living in ways previously unimaginable. Electric lighting, indoor plumbing, motor vehicles, air travel, and television transformed households and workplaces. But has that era of unprecedented growth come to an end? Weaving together a vivid narrative, historical anecdotes, and economic analysis, The Rise and Fall of American Growth challenges the view that economic growth will continue unabated, and demonstrates that the life-altering scale of innovations between 1870 and 1970 cannot be repeated. Gordon contends that the nation's productivity growth will be further held back by the headwinds of rising inequality, stagnating education, an aging population, and the rising debt of college students and the federal government, and that we must find new solutions. A critical voice in the most pressing debates of our time, The Rise and Fall of American Growth is at once a tribute to a century of radical change and a harbinger of tougher times to come.-- "Socialism Today"
Winner of the 800-CEO-READ Business Book Award in Current Events and Public Affairs In an era when faith in government and its institutions is quickly eroding, the businesses of Silicon Valley are stepping in to fill the gap. With outsize supplies of cash, talent, and ambition, a small group of corporations have been gradually seizing leadership--and consumer confidence--around the world. In Silicon States, renowned futurist and celebrated international think-tank leader Lucie Greene offers an unparalleled look at the players, promises, and potential problems of Big Tech. Through interviews with corporate leaders, influential venture capitalists, scholars, journalists, activists, and more, Greene explores the tension inherent in Silicon Valley's global influence. If these companies can invent a social network, how might they soon transform our political and health-care systems? If they can revolutionize the cell phone, what might they do for space travel, education, or the housing market? As Silicon Valley faces increased scrutiny over its mistreatment of women, cultural shortcomings, and its role in widespread Russian election interference, we are learning where its interests truly lie, and about the great power these companies wield over an unsuspecting citizenry. While the promise of technology is seductive, it is important to understand these corporations' possible impacts on our political and socioeconomic institutions. Greene emphasizes that before we hand our future over to a rarefied group of companies, we should examine the world they might build and confront its benefits, prejudices, and inherent flaws. Silicon States pushes us to ask if, ultimately, this is the future we really want.
What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality--the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth--today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.
A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.
Throughout time, from ancient Rome to modern Britain, the great empires built and maintained their domination through force of arms and political power. But not the United States. America has dominated the world in a new, peaceful, and pervasive way -- through the continued creation of staggering wealth. In this authoritative, engrossing history, John Steele Gordon captures as never before the true source of our nation's global influence: wealth and the capacity to create more of it.This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
"Do we really need yet another book about the financial crisis? Yes, we do--because this one is different....A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the mess we're in."
--Paul Krugman, New York Times Book Review
--St. Louis Post-Dispatch A lively history of ideas, The Myth of the Rational Market by former Time Magazine economics columnist Justin Fox, describes with insight and wit the rise and fall of the world's most influential investing idea: the efficient markets theory. Both a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book of the Year--longlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award and named one of Library Journal Best Business Books of the Year--The Myth of the Rational Market carries readers from the earliest days of Wall Street to the current financial crisis, debunking the long-held myth that the stock market is always right in the process while intelligently exploring the replacement theory of behavioral economics.
An Amazon Best History Book of 2019A splendid and beautifully written illustration of the tremendous importance public policy has for the daily lives of ordinary people. --Ryan Cooper, Washington Monthly Over the last generation, the United States has undergone seismic changes. Stable institutions have given way to frictionless transactions, which are celebrated no matter what collateral damage they generate. The concentration of great wealth has coincided with the fraying of social ties and the rise of inequality. How did all this come about? In Transaction Man, Nicholas Lemann explains the United States'--and the world's--great transformation by examining three remarkable individuals who epitomized and helped create their eras. Adolf Berle, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's chief theorist of the economy, imagined a society dominated by large corporations, which a newly powerful federal government had forced to become benign and stable institutions, contributing to the public good by offering stable employment and generous pensions. By the 1970s, the corporations' large stockholders grew restive under this regime, and their chief theoretician, Harvard Business School's Michael Jensen, insisted that firms should maximize shareholder value, whatever the consequences. Today, Silicon Valley titans such as the LinkedIn cofounder and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman hope "networks" can reknit our social fabric. Lemann interweaves these fresh and vivid profiles with a history of the Morgan Stanley investment bank from the 1930s through the financial crisis of 2008, while also tracking the rise and fall of a working-class Chicago neighborhood and the family-run car dealerships at its heart. Incisive and sweeping, Transaction Man is the definitive account of the reengineering of America and the enormous impact it has had on us all.