Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Recommendations

One of my best students this semester in the introductory macro course requested a summer list of books to read. She based this request on her reading of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of the World Trade

I can think of a number of excellent books with insight and, unless I note otherwise, tremendously accessible and readable.

The books that follow are in no particular order, but you might consider starting with one of the first three

Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets John McMillan Ridley, Matt The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.

Seabright, Paul. (2010) The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger Marc Levinson This is an amazing book - Levinson is a journalist, but this is a very nice lay view of technological change, innovation, creativity as told through a single good.

John Steele Gordon - all of his books are amazing, he is an historian rather than economist. I would start with Empire of Wealth, but look at his amazon author page, his book on the Transatlantic cable is superb and his short history of the National Debt (Hamilton's Blessing) is a must read.

Jay Dolan - he is a journalist - I would start with Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.

I would suggest PJ O Rourke On the Wealth of Nations. Since reading Smith's Wealth of Nations is daunting, work (well worth the effort, but still a real sweat and tears effort) this is a hilarious and accurate view of the essentials of this important book.

Peter Bernstein - I would start with Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk but they are all great and perhaps more challenging than any other book on this list.

You must read Milton Freedom - Capitalism and Freedom

You must read Frederick Hayek - The Road to Serfdom

You must read Thomas Sowell A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

Marc Aronson Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky He also has a really interesting book on the history of the world through Cod. Who would have thunk?

DeSoto, Hernando (2000) The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.

DeSoto's book is a very accessible, well known and important book on the potential for lesser developed countries to progress through an unleashing of creativity and talent. I think you would enjoy this one.

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World... by Arthur Herman. Really helps you to learn about the context of Adam Smith and his contemporaries - I found it a great read and learned a ton.

Thinking, Fast and Slow Paperback by Daniel Kahneman Kahneman won the nobel and this is an amazing intro into the foundations of behavioral economics. I suspect you would really enjoy this and, after reading this read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

Frank, Robert H. The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations of Everyday Enigmas

Sylvia Nasar The Grand Pursuit. She wrote A Beautiful Mind which became the interesting Russell Crowe movie of the same name.

A one hour discussion by Nasar

Ed Glaeser The Triumph of the City.

Moretti The New Geography of Jobs

The next 3 are real fun, quick reads with applications of the economic way of thinking that are provocative and fun.

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated) Charles Wheelan

The Undercover Economist Paperback by Tim Harford

The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life by Steven E. Landsburg and/or More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics .

Biographies that are amazing (both are quite long)

Thomas McCraw - Prophet of Innovation (life of Joseph Schumpeter)

JEremy Edelman - LIve of AO HIrschmann

This link will lead you to a blog I used to run with tons of info on books you might find interesting

I don't know if you are into podcasts (you could listen when you ride), but EconTalk is amazing -

I listen every week, but if I had to recommend one episode, it would be Mike Munger on Milk

His episodes on recycling, fair trade and middlemen are hilarious and might challenge your beliefs about these ideas. His economic analysis of recycling is also found in Landsdale's the armchair economist and, if you have never seen this Penn and Teller, you might laugh - it is from their show Bullshit, so you might find it offensive - they really through around the F Bomb. But the "experiment" they show in the episode reflects the costs and . . . costs of recycling.

Dan Benjamin is mentioned in the Penn and Teller episode and he is another great writer.

Reason TV and Drew Carey

Carey makes a key point in measuring well being here. This is an idea in Benjamin Friedman's book The Moral Consequences of Growth

This is the author and book referenced by Carey in the TV episode

Cox, W. Michael and Richard Alm (1999) Myths of the Rich and Poor: Why We're Better Off Than We Think.

There are a ton of great blogs to follow economics

This is not just economics, a wide range of topics.

David Warsh is an economic journalist

Marginal Revolution (note the link to MRUniversity, a no monetary cost set of college classes

The Coordination Problem with Pete Beottke

Not on economics

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

Pinker, Steven (2011) The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

These are a tad more challenging economics (not summer reading) but worth the effort

Lal, Deepak (2006) Reviving the Invisible Hand: The Case for Classical Liberalism in the Twenty-first Century.

Hirschman, Albert O. (1977) The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph

Friday, December 27, 2013

Political Economy and Economic History

The next annual meeting of the Economic History Association (EHA) will take place in Columbus, Ohio, on September 12-14, 2014. The theme of the meeting will be "Political Economy and Economic History." The Program Committee (John Wallis, University of Maryland, chair, together with Dan Bogart, Karen Clay, and Tracy Dennison) welcomes submissions on all subjects in economic history, though some preference will be given to papers that specifically fit the theme.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Slim Majority of History PhDs Hold Tenure-Track Jobs

The study, jointly produced by Maren Wood and Robert Townsend, is generally positive about the job prospects of history PhDs. Of the nearly 2,500 PhDs for whom data was collected, only two were actually unemployed, and, as the authors dryly noted, no PhDs “occupied the positions that often serve as punch lines for jokes … as baristas or short-order cooks.” - See more at:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

At Thanksgiving, Big Grocery & Big Labor Attack Wal-Mart

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who will visit a Wal-Mart on the biggest shopping weekend of the year, don’t be surprised if you encounter protestors agitating for “workers’ rights.”

But you may be surprised how those protestors got there. They are not union organizers, per se, although many represent unions and other community organizing groups. They are associated with calls for wage increases and improved working conditions – even though 23,000 people just turned up for 600 positions at a Wal-Mart under construction in Washington, D.C. As Business Insider notes, it’s harder to get a job at this one Wal-Mart – only 2.6 percent of applicants are accepted – than it is to get into Harvard, where 6.1 percent get in.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Apply now - World Poverty and Economic Growth Conference

World Poverty and Economic Growth Conference March 27-29, 2014

FTE Members Only Conference in Partnership with The World Bank

FTE’s 2014 Professional Teachers Association “Members Only” Conference will explore “World Poverty and Economic Growth.”

The conference will be held March 27-29, 2014, at the World Bank facilities in Washington, D.C. and the Key Bridge Marriott hotel in Arlington. Participants will hear presentations by World Bank staff experts and special speakers John Wallis, David Dollar, and Christopher Coyne. Participants will also take part in group discussion on the topic.

Selection for participation is by application only and will be limited to 45 participants. (Required readings will be sent to successful applicants with acceptance notification.)


Complete the online application form found in the link above. (FTE reserves the right to set qualifications and select program participants. See program details.) In addition to the qualifications of individual applicants, the selection process will consider group composition, including such factors as diversity of teaching experience, age and geographic location; teaching assignment, and involvement in FTE programs. If there is a large pool of qualified applicants, some random selection from the pool may take place

No payment is necessary for application. Selected participants will be required to pay a $100 registration fee and provide a $100 refundable deposit within twelve days of notification of selection

Application is not considered complete until the applicant has received a confirmation of submission from the FTE. Note: If you choose to submit the application by mail, please print the online application and send to:

Ken Leonard

FTE Northwest Office

32110 58th Pl. S.

Auburn WA 98001