June 1, 2010

REVIEW: Naked Economics

Where was Charlie Wheelan (D '88) when I took Econ 01?

In the foreword to Wheelan's acclaimed 2002 pop-economics book Naked Economics, Princeton University professor Burton Malkiel sums up the author best: “Charles Wheelan is the man with the anti-Midas touch... If he touched gold he would turn it to life.”

For casual observers of 'the dismal science', Naked Economics takes your hand and walks you through a basic understanding of market-theory frameworks, all in a light and conversational tone. Wheelan explains why everyone should love government (as a necessary correcting and regulating force in the market) and outlines which uses of it would be most efficient. He explains why it is that Bill Gates makes more money than you or I and uses that example to bolster later conversations about value and scarcity. He detailed the differences between fiscal and monetary policy and shows you why and when governments would use each.

I would stress that Naked Economics is a book for lay-people. It's explanatory powers are vast, as is its potential to make economically illiterate people literate. But most of us who have taken elementary economics classes (and certainly economics majors) will find this book merely an enjoyably-written rehashing of what they already know. Those looking for a nice refresher class, however, will find the book tremendously useful.

Read it (if you don't know about basic economics)
Skim it (if you do)
Toss it

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