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a good populist book on economics - easy reading

Discussion in 'UK politics, current affairs and news' started by Jon-of-arc, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. Jon-of-arc

    Jon-of-arc Trigger warning - BANG!

    Suggestions appreciated. Bonus points for it being up-to-date (post credit crunch...), funny, and not marxist. Just something which explains the way the current system works (and doesn't work...), in an easily digestible format.
  2. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

  3. ResistanceMP3

    ResistanceMP3 www.ResistanceMP3.org.uk

    Doesn't exist.
  4. Kanda

    Kanda Diving wanker

  5. Jon-of-arc

    Jon-of-arc Trigger warning - BANG!

    any recommendations out of that lot? I'm gonna start with butchers link as that's free, but it does seem to falter in the "up-to-date" section, and also has a quote from marx right at the start (though people do say "proper" economists agree with a lot of what marx says, so fair enough, I suppose...). Also, I aint got no kindle, so will be reading from a computer screen...
  6. Kanda

    Kanda Diving wanker

    No... there's plenty of customer reviews there though.
  7. KeeperofDragons

    KeeperofDragons Crazy dragon lady

    The Gods That Failed - there might be an updated version, on reading the authors seem to be Keynesian - nowt wrong with marxist authors quite a few have a background in economics, No Way To Run an Economy by Graham Turner is excellent - mind you I've yet to read anything by an economist that's not packed with graphs - economists love their graphs :D
  8. dennisr

    dennisr the acceptable face

    capital vol one :)
  9. 8115

    8115 sitting down is bad for you

  10. articul8

    articul8 Dishonest sociopath

    John Lanchester's "Whoops"
  11. youngian

    youngian Well-Known Member

    Paul Mason's Meltdown is jargon light and written with journalistic rigour as the banking crisis unfolds.
    dennisr likes this.
  12. Dusty Bint

    Dusty Bint banned Maurice Picarda alter-ego Banned

    Anything but Freakonomics. It is very, very thin on content and promises far more than it delivers, like a channel 5 documentary built out of ten juicy clips, each of which gets aired six times over the course of an hour to an overenthusiastic voiceover. Whoops is very good but then John Lanchester is a card-carrying novelist and tells the story beautifully.
  13. sumimasen

    sumimasen Celebrity-endorsed

    Free lunch, can't remember the author. I found that digestible.
  14. flypanam

    flypanam Slip the leash and the chain

  15. GarfieldLeChat

    GarfieldLeChat fucking awesome but wrong


    pretty much covers what you'd need to know and also tells you preciely why, how and who is to blame for the current issues... that or watch the latest episode of newsroom...

    basically what you need to know is that after the great depression in the 1930's they passed a law to prevent the gamblers (investment banks) from the banking services (domestic banking, your wages and cash card). this law said you can be a gambler or a banker but not both. this act was called the Glass Steagall act.

    This firewall prevented the gamblers from getting their hands on your cash to make bets with, in effect they could lose their shirt and we wouldn't give a toss or have any effect on us... This lead to the largest period of stability we've know in the industrial revolution the biggest growth in living standards and an ever growning middle class where even conditions for the working classes realtively speaking improved, better homes, better jobs, better health care, better technology, etc, etc, etc...

    Then in order to stop one of the largest Investment banks from receiving a crippling fine (amongst other things like other banks getting antsy about their profits and their bets we're drying up) Clinton got rid of this and all of a sudden a groups of gambling addicts had unfettered access to your cash in your current account and started making bet's and bets on bets as quickly as they were able... if you ever seen the elation, caution thrown to the wind of a gambling addict when they find a new cash line you'll know why what happened next happened...

    as with most gambling the house always wins and in this case when the addicts were cut off the world came to a shuddering halt the addicts were kicked to the kerb the house said no more credit for anyone we've made such losses having to stomach these terrible poor gamblers and their behaviour all the time of course keeping the chits which were placed. In order that the financial Vegas didn't dry up and shut up shop thus killing off the banking side of you and I the govts had to cover the 'loses' of the casinos for the tabs run up by the gambling addicts, other wise none of us would get paid...

    the 'new' idea of 'ring fencing' the banks from the gamblers which is due to come in in around 2018 will not as is being implied be a modern Glass Steagall in fact it'll make it easier for the gamblers to turn around and say not our problem when they get cut off.

    people should be much more angry than they are about this because in effect we've said that a bunch of criminal gamblers can fuck the world over again and again and again and no one has the cojones to say fuck off son to them...
  16. Jon-of-arc

    Jon-of-arc Trigger warning - BANG!

    I read the sequel, Superfreakonomics. Interesting enough (especially the bit about the experiment to teach monkeys how to use money at the end...), but does nothing to explain the global capitalist economy and how it functions. It seemed more concerned with "microeconomics" than "macro", which is what I want to learn a bit more about.
  17. Falcon

    Falcon Well-Known Member

    It depends what you are interested in. Finance and economics are, of course, different subjects and the financial crisis is only one of many aspects of dysfunction arising from our wonky conception of economics. So you are interested in economics, primarily, because you won't understand the financial crisis until you understand the economic one. Then you'll want to distinguish carefully between the existing economic paradigm (broadly, "neoclassical economics", which doesn't work) and its candidate replacements (variously, "green" economics, "new" economics, "biophysical" economics, etc.) It's hard to do because, being a paradigm, almost everything you will find will interpret the problem in terms of neoclassical economic assumptions. It's a bit like trying to diagnose what's wrong with astrology by applying astrology, where everyone currently believes in astrology. So, unfortunately, "good populist book on economics" is an oxymoron - they are entertaining, but any passing resemblance to reality is coincidental.

    "Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a finite planet" is an excellent general introduction to the economic problem. "The New Economics: A Bigger Picture" will give you some helpful perspectives. If it is the financial crisis that interests you, "The Crash Course: The unsustainable future of our economy, energy and environment" is accessible. "Debunking Economics" is the canonical critique of the contemporary economic paradigm, but you might find it hard work if you have no economic background.
  18. dennisr

    dennisr the acceptable face

    Oh a "canonical critique of the contemporary economic paradigm" - that sounds like a nice simple introduction....
  19. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    And it's not about economics...
    Falcon likes this.
  20. xenon

    xenon ·≈0

    Some general introductory stuff I've read.
    Basic Economics by Thomas Sowle
    Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt

    They're coming from the Chicargo School side of things. The stuff neo liberal economics is built on AIUI. Second one's quite old but gives you the generalities.

    Coming from a different directionn, bit of mith busting.
    23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha Joon Chang.
  21. Wolveryeti

    Wolveryeti Young Lethargio

    The problem with these kinds of populist books like Freakonomics is that they jump around a lot and focus on weirdness rather than giving any insight into how the basics of the economy works and how the different research strands fit together.

    With this in mind, I would recommend Paul Krugman's undergraduate textbook (link) as a good primer because PK is damn good economist and communicator of economic ideas. The book reflects this, with a focus on real-life examples - not just churning out abstract mathematical models.

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