Top Five Books for Introducing Economics
Books that will help you understand the most complex aspects of economics. What are the laws of the world of finance? How to behave on the modern market? What stereotypes in the field of economics are long overdue to get rid of? How do economic mechanisms influence our lives? Famous economists answer these and other questions. Curious examples and accessible presentations will fascinate even those who have never been interested in this topic.
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. «Why Nations Fail»
The question about the reasons for the wealth of some nations (which Adam Smith asked in his opus magnum) has not yet been definitively answered. Moreover, various examples of "economic miracles" (Singapore, Taiwan, Japan) and "economic disasters" (Argentina, Zimbabwe, Greece) of the 20th century cast doubt on the existence of a single answer that would be true for all countries.
Two well-known American economists in their book carefully analyze almost all factors that can influence the economic development of countries (in particular, geographical location, availability of natural resources, cultural characteristics) and offer their answer. According to Acemoglu and Robinson, the prosperity or poverty of countries is determined by economic and political institutions - the "rules of the game" in the interaction between government and society.
This serious work, based on many studies and scholarly articles by the authors themselves, is very popularly and easily written and is aimed at the general reader.
Sylvia Nasar. «Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius»
Sylvia Nazar, a professor of business journalism at Columbia University, became famous for her book "A Beautiful Mind. The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash," in which the biography of mathematician and economist John Forbes Nash was told in parallel with a fairly accurate account of his scientific research - and on which the Oscar-winning movie "Mind Games" was made. In his next book, Nazar tackles the even more difficult task of showing the development of economic science throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through the prism of the biographies and views of prominent economists (from Alfred Marshall and Joseph Schumpeter to Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson). This highly engaging, albeit controversial, account of how economic theories contribute to economic development shows how thorny the road to the great goal of transforming the lives of all people on the planet for the better.
Terry Pratchett. «Making Money»
This is not an economic work, but a fantasy novel from the Discworld series, but in between it raises the question of what money is, the unambiguous answer to which economic scientists still do not know.
Pratchett's novel, for one thing, plays with a real-life hydraulic model of the economy: its hero is the creator of the Bulker, a computer that represents a model of the national economy:
"...The flow of money flows and their impact on society are modeled by the flows of water inside a glass matrix, which is the "Bulker." The geometric shape of the tubes, the operation of the valves, ingenious, as I call them, pipettes and carefully calibrated pumps allow the Bulker to simulate the most complex transactions. In addition, we can vary the initial conditions widely to explore the inherent properties of the system. For example, we can use Bulker to find out what happens if a city's labor force is halved. To do this, all you have to do is reconfigure just a few valves instead of running out into the street and killing people."
Mechanisms that reproduced real economies and in which the role of money flow played by the flow of water, back in the late XIX century, Irving Fisher built, and the most famous was a hydraulic computer MONIAC Olban William Phillips, modeling the British economy. The novel also does an excellent job of illustrating some of the points of different theories of money, as well as diametrically opposed ideas of what money is. All in all, this book is worth reading even if you haven't heard anything about The Flat World.
Tim Harford. «The Undercover Economist»
As rightly noted in one of the reviews, this book is a vivid representative of works from the series of "not boring about serious" and "just about complicated". Harford explains many important economic ideas in a fascinating and accessible way, using as a starting point for his observations the phenomena that everyone encounters in everyday life. Thus, the example of the price of a cup of coffee is used to discuss how and what is affected by resource constraints in the real economy (and very different kinds of resources at that - the price of a cup of coffee is determined last of all by the price of coffee beans and the work of the barista), while an ordinary trip to the supermarket shows how price discrimination against customers is practiced in practice - and it's not always bad, as one might think from the term alone.
From this book you will learn what information the price of a product contains and how to use it correctly, what can happen if the seller and the buyer have different information, how auction theory works, and why the US government made 100 times less than it had planned in the auction of cell phone licenses and the British government made 10 times more than it had expected, and much more. By the way, in 2014, this book had an equally exciting sequel: The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run - or Ruin - an Economy.
Ha-Joon Chang. «Economics: The User’s Guide»
In his previous book "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism", Ha-Joon Chang, Professor of Economics at Cambridge, explains that 95% of economics is common sense. This book is written from the same perspective: it briefly and very clearly outlines the stages of the development of capitalism (from 1500 to the present day), discusses the main concepts and terms used by economists (gross domestic product and gross national product, sustainable economic growth, unemployment, inequality and poverty), describes the characteristics of the different schools of economic thought (from Austrian and Marxist to neoclassical and Keynesian), and analyzes the roles of the state and the market in the economy. This book can be an excellent starting point for the study of economics, a supplement to any macroeconomics textbook, or a reference book on the history of economic thought.