Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science / Edition 1

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“Explains our global economy in a way that is (gasp!) actually entertaining.”—Book Magazine
Finally! A book about economics that won’t put you to sleep. In fact, you won’t be able to put this bestseller down. In our challenging economic climate, this perennial favorite of students and general readers is more than a good read, it’s a necessary investment—with a blessedly sure rate of return. Demystifying buzzwords, laying bare the truths behind oft-quoted numbers, and answering the questions you were always too embarrassed to ask, the breezy Naked Economics gives readers the tools they need to engage with pleasure and confidence in the deeply relevant, not so dismal science.
This revised and updated edition adds commentary on hot topics, including the current economic crisis, globalization, the economics of information, the intersection of economics and politics, and the history—and future—of the Federal Reserve.
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Editorial Reviews

Burton G. Malkiel
“Wheelan has an anti-Midas touch. If he touched gold he would turn it to life. —Burton G. Malkiel, from the foreword”
“Explains our global economy in a way that is—gasp!—actually entertaining.”
Explains our global economy in a way that is—gasp!—actually entertaining.
Chicago Tribune
“Translates the arcane and often inscrutable jargon of the professional economist into language accessible to the inquiring but frustrated layman. . . . Clear, concise, informative, [and] witty.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393324860
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Wheelan is the author of the internationally best-selling Naked Economics and Naked Statistics and a former correspondent for The Economist, and founder of The Centrist Party. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his family.

Burton G. Malkiel is the Chemical Bank Chairman's Professor of Economics Emeritus at Princeton University. He is a former member of the Council of Economic Advisers, dean of the Yale School of Management, and has served on the boards of several major corporations, including Vanguard and Prudential Financial. He is the chief investment officer of Wealthfront.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Burton G. Malkiel ix

Introduction xvii

Acknowledgments xxvii

1 The Power of Markets: Who feeds Paris? 3

2 Incentives Matter: Why you might be able to save your face by cutting off your nose (if you are a black rhinoceros) 30

3 Government and the Economy: Government is your friend (and a round of applause for all those lawyers) 54

4 Government and the Economy II: The army was lucky to get that screwdriver for $500 80

5 Economics of Information: McDonald's didn't create a better hamburger 104

6 Productivity and Human Capital: Why is Bill Gates so much richer than you are? 126

7 Financial Markets: What economics can tell us about getting rich quick (and losing weight, too!) 148

8 The Power of Organized Interests: What economics can tell us about politics 175

9 Keeping Score: Is my economy bigger than your economy? 191

10 The Federal Reserve: Why that dollar in your pocket is more than just a piece of paper 218

11 International Economics: How did a nice country like Iceland go bust? 243

12 Trade and Globalization: The good news about Asian sweatshops 270

13 Development Economics: The wealth and poverty of nations 294

Epilogue Life in 2050: Seven Questions 317

Notes 327

Index 339

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Malkiel, Burton G.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 52 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2011

    Great Read!!

    For anyone looking for a way to gain some basic knowledge of economics without the grsphs this is your book. I read it years ago in paperback and am excited to read it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Want to know economics... read this.

    One of the most well written economics books that removes the technical terms and describes economics in layman's terms. If you want to grasp economics in a easily read way, this book is for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    Wheelan's work is straightforward enough for a beginner (it has, in fact, been used as an Honors Economics textbook in high school) and detailed enough to not seem overly simplistic. The author leads one through the basic ideas and concepts of economics (with much relevant contemporary data) and teaches one to think like an economist. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wishes to find an enjoyable introduction to this "dismal" science.

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    Dismal science? Not anymore!

    NAKED ECONOMICS came out long before the banking/housing crisis, but the pages on the S&L crisis were a blueprint for the latest finacial debacle. If only the U.S. government had learned its lesson the first time, we would be in a different place today. This book, as it came out long before, does not address that 2007 crash, but the logical progression of comparable behaviors, shown here, leads the reader to an intuitive grasp--not one filled with incomprehensible numbers and mathematical processes--of the issues. Intuition is the key, but there is nothing mystical about it. Wheelan helps the lay person to see economics and understand the behind-the-scenes working of it. An economist who shuns the so-called virtues of "share the wealth," Wheelan reinforces the idea that capitalism ultimately generates wealth and choice, and it tends to provide a better life for almost all, as a result. A free market means that cost cutting will cost jobs, but, over time, progress, not stagnation, is the result. He is not afraid to say, though, that such ideas are always more acceptable in the abstract than when they happen to us. That is a serious issus, seriously addressed. My animosity toward by boards of corporations when they give CEOs huge stock options was transformed by his explanation of the rationale behind such decisions, and their benefit for me, the shareholder in a corporation over which I have no control. I am no less antagonistic toward CEOs for getting so much for doing so little, and for creating a wealth gap that is unconscionable, but at least I now understand the motivation behind the decision. This "dismal" science never really was that, but it seemed a far cry from transformational. Not any longer, because Wheelan knows how to write in a way that challenges the ideas and energizes the mind of the reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    I am the kind of person who likes to have a basic idea of promin

    I am the kind of person who likes to have a basic idea of prominent things that are discussed among "fancy people" during dinner parties or casual lunch conversations. With this book you are able to gain a basic understanding of what it means to think like an economist. It reads more like a humor book than a textbook, and the ideas he presents can really get you thinking. I recommend this book to anyone even if the are not planning on ever studying economics because even if you don't study it, it still exists and you should know about it. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012


    This was really good, got me really excited to be an econ major next year. Probably a little to simple at some parts if you already know a bit about economics, though at other parts some concepts can be tough to grasp. A really great read all around and a good starting point for looking into other works :) highly recommend

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  • Posted December 17, 2011

    Great info for the non-economist

    I breezed though this book and re-read it to make sure that I had understood some of the finer points that had been made. Until now, economics had to do with how much money I had in my checking account (never enough <G>) but now I've got at least enough to discuss the subject more intelligently. The only problem I had with the book was that I sometimes got pretty chilly sitting around reading the book sans clothes. I recommend this book for anyone who would like to have more than just a basic idea of what economics are and how they function in our daily lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

    Great read!

    Just a terrific explanation of the science of economics in plain simple language that makes it easy to understand. Updated version is timely given our present world economic challenges. The explanation of the role that public policy plays in managing the economy is very well written without being political. Highly recomend!

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  • Posted November 17, 2011

    I used this in class

    This book helped me get an A- in a subject I barely understood!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2009

    I would recommend...

    I Liked this book, but it wouldnt be something i would suggest to someone who knows nothing about economics. It jumos back and fourth which works out for me, just i know some students at my school who would get confused. It was readble just not my kind of avarage book.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    A great intro that never talks down to the reader!

    This tome is well-written, interesting, and quite relevant despite the earlier publishing date. It would be interesting to see an updated version considering the economic mess that we are currently experiencing. Economic choices & ideas are cogently disseminated,allowed to be explained, illustrated with good examples, and reviewed later on when needed. I would recommend this for anyone, maybe less so for an economist except as a guide to some breezy & interesting writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

    If you want to learn something about Economics.

    This novel was well written, but confusing. I found the book somewhat informative but felt like it was a little unorganized. Many of the topics jumped around from place to place, stating different instances and aspects of economics, so much that it was almost overwhelming. <BR/>The book was humorous, but not so entertaining that I was drawn in. I believe that the book is a good read for those who have a interest in economics and the way it works in the world, but I would not reccomend this book to someone who has just been introduced to economics.

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  • Posted November 28, 2008

    What got me started.

    I've had this book for years, and I continue to find myself picking it up and re-reading ti from time to time. I did that just recently saying I wish more teachers introduced Economics to students this way. It inspired me to start a blog for that very reason, helping kids understand Economics a little more by what they know and I'm doing that with a game called World of Warcraft. I created The WoW Economist, and a lot of my reasons for writing on the topics and the way I write on the topic started with this book.

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  • Posted November 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A great economics book.

    Fantastic book. Perfect mix of economic concepts and interesting stories. I've seen it used successfully in econ classrooms and I will be attempting to do the same. Interesting from page one. I'm an unashamed fan of the author's Yahoo! Finance column; even though I don't agree with everything he posts there, it always, always gives me stuff to think about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2004

    highly recommended!!!

    Naked Economics is an edifying and highly enjoyable read. Well written, funny, serious, and easy to understand. This is the type of book that every American should read (especially opponents of free trade).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2004

    I learned more from this than 2 Econ classes!

    The main reason i picked this book up was because I always had a top-level interest in economics, but have never found a book to explain it. This should replace the high school text books - If I walked out of High School with this book under my belt I would have been more business and politically driven. If I walked out of COLLEGE with this book under my belt instead of my basic econ class I would have had more of a clue as to what I was doing with my credit cards and savings, as well as gotten a heads up before starting my business... Very enjoyable - highly recommended, a great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2002

    Weighty Book, Simple as 123

    Excellent book for anyone who wants to get a grasp on economics in general. Charles Wheelan's writing style is what struck me the most. Very elegant, yet simple language used to explain complex topics. I would highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2002

    American-style capitalism!

    As the Krokus review states, there is a lot of material covered in this book. It reviews much about macroeconomics that a standard undergraduate text would cover, and then some more, but with better examples. Indeed the examples are very current and make the book very timely. However, I fear in a few years those examples may not mean much and presently a few of the comparisons may be puzzling to non-americans who lack the common cultural reference points. Still, it IS an easy book to read. The chapters are short, interesting, and build a little on each other. I particularly learned from the federal reserve chapter (10). Chapters 11 and 12 recap the book very nicely -and expand on it- with great examples. I did not like the simple references to the "rock-throwing thugs in Seattle and Genoa" (page 200), and throughtout, but it's part of the coverage on trade & globalization. I look forward the reading more on some topics by researching the intersting material in the book's footnotes. I do wish he had given more footnotes with his examples, as I would have liked to see the research behind many items presented - very intersting book. The book clearly shows "how to think like an economist" and that is its goal, I believe - and no charts or graphs, just good examples. This book should be very interesting for foreign readers who wish to understand american-style capitalist thought. I hope it gets translated into Spanish, Chinese, and other languages. Makes me want to read more about deflation - are we headed there?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews

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