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.

  1. Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A Akerlof, Robert J Shiller
  2. Clever: Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People by Rob Goffee, Gareth Jones
  3. Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson
  4. Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World by Stephen Green
  5. House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street By William D Cohan
  6. How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give in by Jim Collins
  7. Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation by Nandan Nilekani
  8. In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic by David Wessel
  9. Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed
  10. The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, the Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals by Frank Partnoy
  11. The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street by Justin Fox
  12. Supercorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  13. This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen M Reinhart, Kenneth Rogoff
  14. Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, by Tristram Stuart
  15. Why Your World Is about to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin

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