Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Economic writing after my own heart

I have just learned of a new book that I believe every AB reader could relate to.

DON’T BUY IT: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense about the Economy


An excerpt from the book summary:

This concise, entertaining book shows us how wrong-headed metaphors and deceptive language have muddled our economic thinking, and how better word choice alone can win the debate.
Today the term “dismal science” seems almost too kind: too many of today’s economic arguments deserve the mantle of mysticism.
Below are a few quotes from a an excerpt of the preface of the book.
Mainline thinking about the U.S. economy is starting to resemble Scientology: beyond a coterie of high-profile, high-income believers, the more those of us outside the fold learn about the teachings, the wackier the whole enterprise sounds.
Members who attempt to leave either orthodoxy—in one case a church and in the other a market-worship orientation—are shunned and ostracized.
In a nutshell, the overriding message is twofold: it’s your fault that the Economy sucks, but there’s not much you can do to improve it. This storyline must sound achingly familiar to Christians. The blame for damnation to hell lies with you and you alone. Yet though prayer and piety are good ideas, only God determines who merits redemption. Economic salvation is out of your hands, but that’s no excuse to quit your night job or start spending on luxury items like college.
I find this next statement most inline with my thinking when for years here at AB I have asked: What do we have an economy for?
In most domains, policies must be advertised as serving our national interests, but when GDP talk rolls around, this is no longer the case. We’re here to please the economy, not the other way around.
I’ll send this one to my daughter to add to my “gift list”. It’s a list of books she can consider when she wants to give me a gift.

Economic hitman

by Mike Kimel

Cross posted at the Presimetrics blog.

I guess when you’re a very not famous (co-)author like yours truly, people start contacting you with information about their books. I got an e-mail today from another currently very not famous author plugging his book, and I found it to be an interesting concept.

The book is called The Economics of Ego Surplus by Paul McDonnold, and it is a “novel of economic terrorism.” This website allows you to read the first 54 pages of the novel. I personally read about ten or so, and decided to order the rest of the book. (Note – I don’t know Paul McDonnold, never heard of him before he sent me an e-mail, and am getting nothing out of this. He did want to send me, maven that I am, a free copy of the book but I am sending him a check.) FWIW, its not so polished that it doesn’t come across as a first novel, but on the other hand, it smoothly blends in some economics/finance with a Dan Brown-style conspiracy. Put another way – it reads like the bestseller I picked up at the airport a couple of weeks ago before getting on a plane with the added benefit of dealing with a field I find interesting. Put yet another way, it reads like books by Paul Erdman, who I used to read for fun back in college and grad school. For those of us who like our economics/finance, and enjoy the occasional (for me, time is a major constraint these days, and thus we’re mostly talking when I travel) thriller its nice to see another example of the two combined.

Can you think of other examples from this genre?

The Capitalist & The Entrepreneur

One of the nice things about going to the Kauffman Foundation this year was meeting up again with Peter Klein of Organizations and Markets, who was my first economics professor.* (I liked him as soon as I found out one of his first publications dealt with “moral hazard” and the Designated Hitter.)

Peter has a book out from the Mises Institute, The Capitalist & The Entrepreneur. Subtitled Essays on Organizations and Markets and carrying blurs from Business and Law people as well as the obligatory G-Mu professor (Adam Smith Award winner Peter Boettke), the book, as with Klein himself, is likely well-conceived, sharply written, and worth arguing with and about.

Not to mention that, at $12 from Mises, it’s very reasonably priced.

I’m certain I’ll have more later, after I get a chance to read it. But it seems exactly the type of book that should be getting more discussion here.

*On hearing this, Andrew Samwick said, “But you two are at opposite ends of the spectrum.” What I Should Have Said then I say now: “I said he was a good teacher. I never said I was a good student.”