Resources and Books on the Economic Way of Thinking

George Mason University economist Russell Roberts has authored a series of essays entitled “Ten Key Ideas: Opening the Door to the Economic Way of Thinking” that are well worth reading.  The 10 key ideas include the following: 1. Incentives Matter, 2. Understanding Costs, 3.How Markets Work, 4. How Prices Emerge, 5. Comparative Advantage, 6. The Division of Labor, 7. The Extended Order of Cooperation, 8. Externalities, 9. How Politicians Behave, and 10. What Politicians Can and Cannot Do.

There are also a number of popular books on the “Economic Way of Thinking” that I can recommend.  For starters, there’s Roberts’ own book, entitled “The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity” (also consider listening to the hourlong Roberts on the Price of Everything podcast for some background and context for the book).  The best selling book entitled “Freakonomics” by Levitt and Dubner is definitely worth considering.  “Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan, “The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford, and “Armchair Economist: Economics & Everyday Life” by Steven Landsburg are also good reads!

Health Care Reform Readings for today (8/14/2009)

Here are links to two articles on health care reform that I read earlier today.  I particular like John Cochrane’s ideas about market-based mechanisms for addressing pre-existing conditions.  Earlier this week, a WSJ editorial entitled “The Truth About Health Insurance” noted, among other things, that “University of Chicago economist John Cochrane also argues that in a more rational individual insurance market, people could insure not merely against medical expenses but also against changes in health status. This kind of insurance would cover the risk of premiums rising as you get older and your health condition changes.”

  • The Great ‘Prevention’ Myth, by Charles Krauthammer
    Charles Krauthammer takes issue with the conventional wisdom that prevention serves the dual purposes of saving lives while saving money.  Like most conventional wisdom, this is wrong; overall, preventive care has been shown to increase medical costs.
  • What to Do About Pre-existing Conditions, by John H. Cochrane
    WSJ: “Most Americans worry about health coverage if they lose their job and get sick. There is a market solution.”

Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Longlist

Here’s the “longlist” for the 2009 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. Apparently this list will get whittled down to a “shortlist” on September 17, and the “winner” will be announced at the end of October at a gala event in London.

I have read only two of the books on the list (cf. items 5 and 11 below), so it looks like I have some catching up to do!

The ft.com article entitled “Reading into financial crises past, present and future” provides a useful synopsis of these books.