Basic Economics / Edition 1by Thomas Sowell
Pub. Date: 05/30/2003
Publisher: Basic Books
At last, there is a citizen's guide to economics-for those who want to understand how their country's economy works but have no interest in graphs, jargon, or equations. Sowell reveals the general principles behind any kind of economycapitalist,
From one of America's best-known economists, the one book anyone who wants to understand the economy needs to read.
At last, there is a citizen's guide to economics-for those who want to understand how their country's economy works but have no interest in graphs, jargon, or equations. Sowell reveals the general principles behind any kind of economycapitalist, socialist, feudal, etc. In readable language, he helps the reader critique economic policies in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the goals they proclaim. With clear explanations of the entire field, from rent control and the rise and fall of businesses to the international balance of payments, this is the first book for anyone who wishes to understand how the economy functions.
"Voters by the millions want to know basic economics, not for passing tests, but for grading politicians, and for understanding how the world works.... They have waited a long time for this book, by one of the nation's best and most trenchant minds."
-Michael Novak, American Enterprise Institute
Author Biography: Thomas Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. He writes on economics, history, social policy, ethnicity, and the history of ideas. Sowell's writings include a syndicated column appearing in 174 newspapers and a column in Forbes. He lives in Stanford, California.
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Table of Contents
What is Economics? 1
Prices and Markets 9
The Role of Prices 11
Price Controls 38
An Overview 62
Industry and Commerce 87
The Rise and Fall of Businesses 89
The Role of Profits-and Losses 108
Big Business and Government 138
An Overview 162
Work and Pay 181
Productivity and Pay 183
Controlled Labor Markets 207
An Overview 237
Time and Risk 255
Investment and Speculation 257
Risks and Insurance 282
An Overview 307
The National Economy 323
National Output 325
Money and the Banking System 342
Government Functions 364
Government Finance 393
An Overview 419
The International Economy 431
International Trade 433
International Transfers of Wealth 457
An Overview 480
Special Economic Issues 493
Myths about Markets 495
"Non-Economic" Values 518
Parting Thoughts 544
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Anyone not familiar with the work of Thomas Sowell would be well advised to check out the blurbs on the back of the dust jacket of Basic Economics, where praise flows from conservative bastions like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times and the American Enterprise Institute. Take this as a warning that, even though Sowell¿s book does offer an excellent plain-English explanation of fundamental economics, its real mission is to explain how many societal catastrophes are caused by government policies he deems faulty. In so doing, he takes aim at minimum wage standards, rent control and, through his spirited defense of international trade, the anti-globalization crowd. But no matter which side of the ideological fence you occupy, we suggest reading this book for its insightful distillation of some of our most passionate political debates down to their economic essentials.
This book is easy to understand and is easy reading. If you are learning or just want a better understanding, It is a perfect choice.
I'm an MBA with a background in engineering. I have an OK understanding of centrally planned economies verses consumer driven economies. This book provides excellent historically examples showing the effects of the political/economic model a country has on the quality of life of it's people.
Simplicity in teaching requires much understanding and scholarship, none of which is more apparent than with "Basic Economics." Economics is simply the study of human behavior in a market environment, which is exactly how Dr. Sowell presents his case. A rare find in the Economics world where simple ideas consume many a page. The 14th Century Franciscan William Ockhams' idea that the easiest explanation is most likely the best is proven once again.
This truly is a MUST READ. Dr. Sowell is a master of the English language and clearly explains the nuances of economics with thoughtful organization and down to earth examples. Basic Economics pulls back the curtains on political "solutions" and shows why capitalism offers society the best chance to maximize benefits available to all of it's members.
This is the basics of Economics and the free-market system, what has worked, what hasn't and why. My only complaint is that it was not more technical and detailed. However, for someone that is looking for an introduction or just someone who wants to learn the overall workings the economic system and policies in a clear, VERY easy to understand format then this book is for you. I said in the subject that this was required reading because the author also points out past (and present) political policies in that politicians deceive the public (whether intentionally or not) with policies that are emotionally popular even though they make no economic sense and it lot of cases actually cause the situation they are trying to prevent. Very interesting and enlightening.
Dr. Thomas Sowell has taken a rather challenging and complex subject - economics -and explained it in a manner that is easy to understand and interesting to boot. For the student of economics, this book will give you a better appreciation and understanding of all the typical subjects covered in an economics course - (1) Scarcity, (2) Demand and Supply, (3) Prices, (4) Competition, (5) Money, (6) World Trade, etc. For the average adult, this book explains in an accessible manner how and why businesses, households, and governments interact in producing goods and services to meet people's needs. Basic Economics is written without any of the intimidating economic and financial jargon present in other books treating this subject. The numerous historical examples of economic forays run amok make this book a fascinating read. Dr. Sowell provides case after case, covering different nations at different times, of governmental or social policies that were meant to produce one set of results but that gave rise to completely unintended, even harmful, results. He then provides examples of the demise of many formerly dominant American firms - companies that lost vast market share and fell into decline just because they failed to adjust their business strategies to best counter the competition or to meet the changing needs, wants, and other circumstances of the consuming public; to wit: White Castle Hamburgers overtaken by Mc Donald's because the latter had drive-thru windows; A&P Supermarkets, a cost-cutting leader, overtaken by Walmart, a more effective cost-cutter. Finally, Dr. Sowell exlains how examining economic incentives helps to understand why societies, government institutions, private firms, etc., behave the way they do. He gives plenty of evidence in support of consumer sovereignty, free markets, and minimal government intrusion in the marketplace. He also gives numerous examples of the failures common to centrally planned economies, such as the former Soviet Union's. If you want to understand a whole lot about the way the world operates, or make informed decisions about the likely consequences of government programs, such as rent control or social security, you must read this book.