Your Neighbourhood Economists has an overflowing book shelf loaded with books about all sorts of topics to do with economics. This section on the blog is for ideas on easily accessible books to learn more about economics and what is going on with the economy. Along with some comments, each book gets a ranking (out of five) in terms of how much you might learn from the book (education), whether you might actually enjoy reading the book (entertainment), and how much the book will help understand what is going on at the moment (topical). I will be adding at least a few books a month (with the newest material at the top) as new books make it onto my book shelf and I reread some of my favourites so remember to return to more later.
23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
Education - ★★★★★
Entertainment - ★★★★
One of the best books to explain the gap between economic theory and reality. The book is split into 23 “things” as the title suggests which makes for an easy read - like a collection of short stories about economics. Ha-Joon Chang deals with many of the common problems with economics – “free markets don’t exist” and “free trade is not good for poor countries”. There are several great points that were even new to this long-term sceptic of economics such as “companies should not be run for their owners” or “people in rich countries are paid too much”. More than a few of the topics that the author brings up seem to be too far-fetched but he still manages to convince you of his point in a dozen or so pages. This is a book I would happily recommend to anyone wanting to sort out fact from fiction in economics.
Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz
Education - ★★★★
Entertainment - ★★★★
One of the best authors in terms of easy-to-read and balanced books on economics, Stiglitz is among the few economists who foresaw problems before the global financial crisis. Full of details with lots of about what went wrong and why it was allowed to happen with chapter titles such as “The Great American Train Robbery” and “Avarice Triumphs over Prudence”. The book also offers up sensible solutions to fixing the financial system as well as the bigger jobs of mending an increasingly dysfunctional economy. My favourite bit was Chapter Nine (Reforming Economics) – a topic close to my own heart and essential reading in understanding how the ideas of economics lead us astray.