Christmas Economics Books

This Christmas, along with the usual socks, ties, and shoe polishing kits (no, not really), my presents given and received included quite a few economics books, and book vouchers. Here are the ones I got as presents–which ones do you think we should all look at in the next few months? Put a link (and just one link, as comments with more than one link need to be approved) in the comments.

The Battle of Bretton Woods. This book by Benn Steil shows us the story of how Bretton Woods negotiations evolved, how Keynes and US bureaucrat Harry Dexter White fought over the design of the post war international economy, and how White turned out, in the end, to be a Soviet spy. The book is riveting so far.

Political Arithmetic: Simon Kuznets and the Empirical Tradition in Economics. This book is a scientific biography of Nobellist Simon Kuznets and a trip through the development of national income accounting. The writing is somewhat turgid in places, but in fairness, it is hard to make the NIPA sexy.

The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value. This is an attempt to understand why prizes proliferate in modern society, and why they are so important as signalling devices. The writing is great and it is an ambitious work of sociology.

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Author: Stephen Kinsella

Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Limerick.

13 thoughts on “Christmas Economics Books”

  1. The origin of wealth by Eric Beinhocker on Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics
    yeha
    also the great rebalancing by michael pettis
    yeha

  2. also paul blusteins new book off balance, which im only party through, is good to boot, its basically a modern day version of ben steils book, without the goldbuggery !! (although I havent read steil, tbf)

  3. The Unwinding: an inner history of the new America by George Packer

    Includes an interview with Peter Thiel who observes about Facebook, Twitter etc that “you have dizzying change where there is no progress”.

  4. not that the book is in response to steil, but as a counterweight to steils monocausal, ideologically driven narrative (from what i can tell)

  5. @ seafoid

    Peter Thiel would like to see more significant breakthroughs but manufacturing which accounts for about 70% of US business R&D and 10% of non-farm employment, is part of Silicon Valley’s history not the present.

    New services often come after devices (smartphones need flash chips) while for a libertarian, there is a reality that the federal government is the main funder of blue-sky research.

    The biggest chunk of US business R&D is in drugs; 37% of German business R&D is in the automotive sector.

    As often happens in life, there is a gulf between the idealism and the reality.

    Facebook rails against NSA surveillance but it takes a user about 6 page accesses to adjust privacy settings.

    Adrian Wooldridge, management editor and Schumpeter columnist, The Economist, wrote last month that the geeks have turned out to be some of the most ruthless capitalists around. A few years ago the new economy was a wide-open frontier. Today it is dominated by a handful of tightly held oligopolies. Google and Apple provide over 90% of the operating systems for smartphones. Facebook counts more than half of North Americans and Europeans as its customers.

    Schumpeter said that the lords of cyberspace have done everything possible to reduce their earthly costs. They employ remarkably few people: with a market cap of $290bn Google is about six times bigger than GM but employs only around a fifth as many workers. At the same time the tech tycoons have displayed a banker-like enthusiasm for hoovering up public subsidies and then avoiding taxes. “The American government laid the foundations of the tech revolution by investing heavily in the creation of everything from the internet to digital personal assistants. But tech giants have structured their businesses so that they give as little back as possible.”

  6. A little confused by the post,books we are stockpiling to read or have read?
    Anyway I’m going with what I’m planning on reading as opposed to a best of last week/month/year.
    Numerous comparisons btw 1913 and today have been made piquing my interest from a financial and economic point of view.One my BFF’s is a book reviewer and kindly dropped off a large selection off economic/financial books on this era.Should I provide a list that she suggested worth reading?
    Clearly,also Meltzer given the bday..vol 1and 2.
    http://www.amazon.com/History-Federal-Reserve-Volume-1913-1951/dp/0226520005

  7. @Michael
    It’s hard to take big tech protestations of NSA innocence seriously. They’ll do anything to secure the grail of profitable personalised advertising.Facebook reminds me of a book by Neil Postman called “amusing ourselves to death”. The new economy is very jobs light and they don’t pay much in taxes either.

  8. As an intro I would recommend Where Does Money Come From? published by the New Economics Foundation in the UK.

    For a great book on how our monetary system is the root of many of our problems and how we could gradually move towards a system in which the central bank create the entirety of the money supply I would recommend Positive Money’s Modernising Money: Why our monetary system is broken, and how we fix it.

    A shorter, free version of this book is available here.

    Happy reading.

  9. “Keep from all thoughtful men” described Kuznet’s actions also in some detail.
    But for me it made Kuznet looking like some megalomaniac statistician.

    One of the worst, empty books I ever read.

    Given the renewed interest in Ordnungspolitik, Jens Weidmann recommened all politicians to have it under their pillow:

    Walter Eucken` s “The Foundations of Economics” is worth to mention, not exactly cheap at $90, but hey, if you compare it to

    Foundations of Economics by Eucken, Walter. (Springer,2011) [Paperback] (Jan 2, 0011) coming at $ 302,

    its a bargain : – )

    I just bought the German original for 7.7 Euro

  10. Santa brought me a brilliant book on economics …. I simply cannot recommend it hightly enough for enlightened hibernian citizen_serfs of the odious financial system …

    GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES by J.L.C & W.C Grimm

    e.g. The Golden Goose; Prudent Hans; The Robber Bridegroom; The Bremen Town Musicians; Clever Grethel; The Death of the Hen; & amongst other empirical and theoretical delights – The Vagabonds.

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