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Thread: Recommended Economics Reading List

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    Recommended Economics Reading List

    Since we've had some interesting economic "drive-by" shootings the past few months, I figured that I'd start a thread with recommended economics readings. I'll start off with two books that are about baseball (and economics). While I certainly don't track baseball nearly as close as I did as a kid, these books gave me a completely different look at Major League Baseball.

    Amazon.com: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game: Books: Michael Lewis - This book covers how the Oakland As were able to use advanced statistics to identify inefficients in the market for professional baseball players earlier this decade, allowing them to consistently win division titles despite having a shoestring budget. While economics permeates throughout, the focuses more on the personalities involved, and so it very light on the economics.

    Amazon.com: The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed: Books: J.C. Bradbury - This book is written by an economics professor who blogs at Sabernomics» Economic Thinking about Baseball, and is a great complement to Moneyball. He explores many of the concepts touched on in Moneyball, while providing the regression results and graphs that validate the analysis, often debunking common baseball myths. Additionally, he uses baseball examples to cover many of the basic economic principles as well as market structures.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Senior Contributor FibrillatorD's Avatar
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    Thanks for suggestions. As a devoted fan of the other low-budget success story in baseball, the Twins, I may have a chance at absorbing an inkling of the economic topics covered by way of baseball examples and analogies.

    In due time. For now I'm on second base with the illuminating The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, by the great colonialist himself, Hernando de Soto.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Since we've had some interesting economic "drive-by" shootings the past few months, I figured that I'd start a thread with recommended economics readings. I'll start off with two books that are about baseball (and economics). While I certainly don't track baseball nearly as close as I did as a kid, these books gave me a completely different look at Major League Baseball.

    Amazon.com: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game: Books: Michael Lewis - This book covers how the Oakland As were able to use advanced statistics to identify inefficients in the market for professional baseball players earlier this decade, allowing them to consistently win division titles despite having a shoestring budget. While economics permeates throughout, the focuses more on the personalities involved, and so it very light on the economics.

    Amazon.com: The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed: Books: J.C. Bradbury - This book is written by an economics professor who blogs at Sabernomics» Economic Thinking about Baseball, and is a great complement to Moneyball. He explores many of the concepts touched on in Moneyball, while providing the regression results and graphs that validate the analysis, often debunking common baseball myths. Additionally, he uses baseball examples to cover many of the basic economic principles as well as market structures.
    What I want to know is if he can explain the whole concept of "switch hitting." Personally, I think it's a bunch of superstition.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Lord High Hullabalooster Senior Contributor dalem's Avatar
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    A simple economic primer is the game SimCity too. Can't spend more than you make for long before it all goes mams-up.

    -dale

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    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    Hold on, let me get my shelf:
    For whatever reason, the options aren't working, and I therefore can't post links.
    Anyways, the LIST:
    The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman: An excellent insight in to how globalization is affecting economies worldwide

    Infotopia by Cass Sunstein: Describes how groups of people process information

    Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Just because

    How Capitalism Saved America by Thomas DiLorenzo: An Austrian's view on American economic development.


    This is my brief analysis of the history of 20th century economics.

    EDIT: Eh, this is so-so...
    I. Keynesianism and the Development of Modern Macroeconomics
    It is impossible to understand the promise of supply-side economics without understanding the environment it came from, which was an environment shaped by John Maynard Keynes and his findings.
    The Great Depression was a truly horrible economic event in world history. Millions were thrown out of work, production shrank, and capital formation ground to a halt. The effects of the Great Depression, completely baffling to economists at the time, were so extreme that they swept in Franklin Roosevelt, who had a broad mandate that allowed him to do things that previous presidents could not have dreamed of; for example, FDR was allowed to declare a banking holiday, and managed to pull off most of his New Deal policies without a hitch.
    In the midst of this environment, Keynes rose to fame. In 1936, he published the “General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money,” which became his magnum opus. To simplify, we need not go into specifics of the argument here. It is sufficient to say that, over the next couple years, a new school known as Keynesianism was born, which argued that the Great Depression was caused by a fall in demand. Recessions caused by demand shortages could be dealt with by increasing government expenditures, which would move the economy back into equilibrium. Government intervention is especially important if the economy is slow-to-adjust, as recession could last quite a while. The Keynesians point to the Great Depression as a prime example of this, as GDP in the United States did not return to pre-depression levels until the outset of World War II.
    Keynesianism gained ground rapidly, and become the leading economic theory held by Western officials after the war ended. This is best summarized in the statement “We are all Keynesians now” by Richard Nixon during his Presidency.

    II. Disfavor of Keynesianism
    A number of recessions occurred in the post-war period, and, in deference to Keynesian economics, the Federal Reserve pumped out more money and the government ran deficits to bring the economy back into equilibrium quickly. Growth was strong, especially in the 1960s (though US per capita growth actually grew more slowly than the recovering European states and Soviet Union), and political energy concentrated on new movements, such as the blossoming Civil Rights movement, or the Cold War.
    However, the Keynesian consensus had a serious problem. This problem was exactly its strength in the 1930s: it had a heavy emphasis on demand-side shocks, and recommended government and Fed intervention to make recessions bearable. Inflation and real interest rates slowly crawled up as a result of these policies, and, in the United States, government deficits were created in the late 1960s that persist to this day.
    Besides those problems, which were fully expected, the oil price shocks created unexpected problems. A recession caused by a productivity shock, such as what happened when oil prices rose dramatically, is different from a recession caused by a fall in demand. In the former, the recession is necessary to bring the economy back to equilibrium; the economy IS adjusting. In the latter, the economy is in recession because it is not adjusting to the new reality of lower demand by lowering prices.
    The effects were astounding. Expansionary fiscal and monetary policies created even larger deficits all around the world, pushed interest rates even higher, and inflation ran rampant. The inflation was particularly troubling; periods of falling output and rising inflation, while quite possible under the classical framework, were impossible under the Keynesian framework of demand-side shocks. “Stagflation” became the death sentence of Keynesianism.

    III. Supply-Side Economics and the New Hope
    Supply-side economics, in my opinion, should belong to the wider political movement that I call “market backlash.” The underpinning of this movement was an intellectual rebellion against large government intervention domestically, and demands to confront the Soviet Union aggressively in the international arena. Both eventually achieved a big victory with the election of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, which essentially made the two leading powers of the Western world committed to this ideology.
    Before getting ahead of ourselves, we should examine the economic arguments of this movement.
    The basic pillars of the supply-side movement are as follows: a strong emphasis on cutting marginal taxes so as to encourage productivity, an emphasis on monetary over fiscal policy, a policy of inflation targeting (especially trying to target the dollar to the price of gold), and an appreciation for the free market. Taxation will be the focus of this, although it does us well to look at the other pillars.
    The emphasis on marginal taxation is a result of incentives. People, of course, will not work if there is no incentive to work. In regards to labor, the important incentive that government creates is taxation, specifically marginal taxation. The marginal tax is the amount of money government takes on each additional dollar of income that a person earns. If this becomes too high, people will stop working, and the economic wealth of the nation will be harmed. This is in contrast to AVERAGE taxation, which actually raises the amount that people work; higher average taxes make people feel poorer, and thus they will work more. The supply-siders differ from other economists of the time by stressing the importance of marginal taxes over the average tax level. Substantial cuts in the top income bracket will, according to the supply-siders, encourage them to work more, making society wealthier as a whole. Some refer to this as “trickle-down economics.”
    The second pillar is the strong emphasis on monetary policy. This results in large part due to Milton Friedman’s work and his school of thought known as Monetarism (though monetarism is NOT directly related to supply-side economics). While all economists agree on the expansionary or contractionary effects of monetary policy, Friedman, and many supply-siders put a special emphasis on it. Friedman’s own magnum opus, a Monetary History of the United States, claims that monetary policy has been responsible for basically every boom and bust in American history. Especially important is the Great Depression; Friedman shows that the money supply shrunk rapidly in the early years, which caused (or at least made horribly worse) the entire ordeal. While many have taken this as an opportunity to blame the Federal Reserve for causing the Great Depression (which is incorrect, as the monetary base expanded; it was the money multiplier that fell as banks failed rapidly), it has been influential in the argument between fiscal and monetary policy.
    The third policy is inflation-targeting. While monetary policy is influential, most supply-siders believe that monetary policy should be used primarily to keep inflation down. This is extremely important, as inflation distorts cost calculations and therefore reduces economic welfare. It also was an important political issue during the 70s, when double-digit inflation was a reality. As to the specific policy recommendation, supply-siders recommend using gold prices as an indicator; when they go up, it means that the dollar is getting too weak and monetary policy should strengthen it. When gold prices go down, it means the dollar is getting far too strong.
    The fourth policy is a strong respect for free markets. Prior to this period, according to supply-siders, the Western economics were being burdened by extreme amounts of regulation. These regulations had strong effects on everyone; environmental regulations, for instance, made it much tougher to start and grow a business, airline regulation kept prices high, and gas price regulation created shortages and long lines for gasoline. No branch of the economic pyramid was untouched. The supply-siders favored extensive deregulation, believing that the government simply couldn’t help the economy and was preventing economically good transactions.
    The overall effect of this would be to promise price stability, a smoother business cycle, and greater long-run economic growth.
    Last edited by GVChamp; 26 Jun 07, at 21:33.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

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    Post

    It is often said that, statistics is the most abused science man has ever invented.
    Economics would run a very close second I think.

    There are of course some other university courses one could undertake that have the word "science" attached to them that would take first place.
    One is the study of Political science, an oxymoron if I ever heard one, therefore diqualified.

    Many years ago when I studied economics I remeber being shown an article on economics that said "The study of economics is a process of cretinization".

    The guy who wrote that was a senior lecturer in economics from the university of Sydney.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by captain; 29 Jun 07, at 15:32.

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    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    http://www.standupeconomist.com/clips/AIR_Yoram_med.mp4
    Shek, this has no intellectual value, but it is too hilarious to not go in this thread.
    It's Economics comedy
    Last edited by Shek; 29 Jun 07, at 19:11.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

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    I showed the video towards the end of the semester, and most everyone loved it. Here's the website for the comedian economist. Also, hope you don't mind, but I'm going to replace your YouTube link to the video with the higher quality video link from Dr. Bauman's website.

    The world's first and only stand-up economist
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    I showed the video towards the end of the semester, and most everyone loved it. Here's the website for the comedian economist. Also, hope you don't mind, but I'm going to replace your YouTube link to the video with the higher quality video link from Dr. Bauman's website.

    The world's first and only stand-up economist
    Works for me
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    What I want to know is if he can explain the whole concept of "switch hitting." Personally, I think it's a bunch of superstition.
    Gunnut,

    Switch hitting is real. Having stopped playing at the junior high level, pitchers weren't throwing curve balls yet, but that is supposedly the biggest difference, as batting against an opposite handed pitcher will produce a ball curving into your hitting zone as opposed to away from you. It also adds some game theory into short-relief pitching situations. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, you may bring in a relief pitcher with a higher ERA if the batter is hits from the same side of the plate as the pitcher pitches (i.e, match up a right-handed batter and a right-handed pitcher). However, I don't have the stats on this. I'll have to try downloading the data at the end of the summer and run the stats.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    The next recommended book is a very short read (just over 110 pages) that can be done in a night.

    Amazon.com: The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protection (3rd Edition): Books: Russell Roberts

    The book lays out very simply why free trade benefits nations as a whole and exposes the fallacious reasoning behind political arguments for protectionism.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    The following two books are a great and fun survey of economics principles and concepts by looking at the real world. Not a single graph or equation to be found, so you won't get bogged down in equations.

    Amazon.com: The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, Why the Poor Are Poor--And Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!: Books: Tim Harford

    Amazon.com: Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science: Books: Charles Wheelan
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Here's another recommend economics reading. It's another sports economics book that looks at a few sports, although the last half of the book focuses on basketball and why Allen Iverson is overpaid, the Lakers were smart in keeping Kobe, that MJ is the best player in the modern era, and why Kevin Garnett would be a great acquisition (quite prescient).

    Here are links to the book and the authors' blog:

    Amazon.com: The Wages of Wins: Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport (Stanford Business Books): David Berri,Martin Schmidt,Stacey Brook: Books

    The Wages of Wins Journal
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Here's another recommend economics reading. It's another sports economics book that looks at a few sports, although the last half of the book focuses on basketball and why Allen Iverson is overpaid, the Lakers were smart in keeping Kobe, that MJ is the best player in the modern era, and why Kevin Garnett would be a great acquisition (quite prescient).

    Here are links to the book and the authors' blog:

    Amazon.com: The Wages of Wins: Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport (Stanford Business Books): David Berri,Martin Schmidt,Stacey Brook: Books

    The Wages of Wins Journal
    If you're into sports economics, I recommend this college professor's blog on it. Pretty good, he gets mentioned in articles linking sports with money (especially public stadium funding).
    The Sports Economist

    Bit of a contrarian currently, so for the real economy, I recommend The Big Picture
    Last edited by rj1; 28 Mar 08, at 05:20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rj1 View Post
    If you're into sports economics, I recommend this college professor's blog on it. Pretty good, he gets mentioned in articles linking sports with money (especially public stadium funding).
    The Sports Economist
    rj1,

    Thanks, this blog is one of the three main sports econ blogs out there. There are actually about eight authors that contribute to it, which is why is has the biggest breadth of topics. The other two main ones are Sabernomics» Economic Thinking about Baseball, which focuses mostly on baseball, and the Wages of Wins Journal, which is mostly basketball-centric.

    If you're looking for a site that has a lot of sports econ type stats, Rodney Fort's webpage is a good one to go to.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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