Subject: Re: Recommendations for Basic Economics Guide.
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 21:15:37 +0900

>>>>> "xela" == xela  <Alex> writes:

    xela> Both are by Prof. Timothy Taylor of Macalaster College, (a
    xela> first-tier liberal arts school in Minnesota).  He must be a
    xela> hell of a lecturer in person to come through so well on tape
    xela> while I'm driving in Boston traffic.  They're "Economics"
    xela> and "Legacies of Great Economists" (personally, I found that
    xela> I could make a lot more sense out of economics by
    xela> understanding the historical context in which economic ideas
    xela> developed, and if I were doing it again, I'd listen to
    xela> "Legacies" first);

If that's the Tim Taylor I think it is, I wonder if he got his PhD
yet?  The guy I'm thinking of _was_ one hell of a lecturer, got the
Stanford U. GTA award once, and was always too busy communicating
economics to write his dissertation.  (Didn't stop him from publishing
a half-dozen articles I know of, but that doesn't make a dissertation.)

In other words, the fact that he took a while to get the sheepskin[1]
should be considered in his favor :-) and I highly recommend Alex's
idea of doing the "Legacies" first.  Unfortunately I don't really know
of a good "Economics in Plain English" book; most people who try to
write them have a political axe to grind, and when you add in the
incompetents, you've covered the field that I know of.

The closest I know of is Fisher et al "Folded, Spindled and Mutilated:
US v. IBM."  It's rather specialized, but it is specialized
(fortunately so, in this audience) to the IT industry.  It's also so
dry as to qualify for Dave Lettermans "Top Ten Deserts" list.

"Information Rules" is a must for this crowd.  I'd rather you didn't
read Lessig (like most lawyers, his economics is terrible), but on the
other hand you can't not read Lessig....  Just remember that a lot of
things he says about the economics Just Ain't So.  The information
economy is not as different from everything that came before as many
people (including Alan Greenspan, not normally known for flights of
fancy, but who is undoubtedly regretting every word he said about the
New Economy) would like to believe.

"Strategically Thinking" by Nalebuff and Dixit is pretty good,
although it's more game theory than market microeconomics.  Still,
it's oriented toward MBAs, not professional economists.  Practical.

If you can stomach his politics[2], Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom"
and "Free to Choose" give lots of examples of economic thinking in
practice.

E. F. Schumacher's "Small Is Beautiful" and (can't remember the
author) "Ecotopia" are excellent correctives to Friedmania and
astiglermatism[3].  Not economics texts as such, but many of the
themes should resonate especially well with the "lifestyle
businessmen."  Not as interesting to the strategic FSBs.

The Economist magazine has a long running series of School Briefs
which are excellent.  But I don't think they're collected anywhere.

If you're interested in the technical issues of the industry, Oz Shy's
"Economics of Network Industries" or some such is pretty good.  I feed
it to my non-technical MBA students.


Footnotes: 
[1]  Not to mention that the Chair of the Dept when Tim entered the
PhD program didn't have _his_ sheepskin yet.  Just following in the
Master's footsteps.  :-)

[2]  It's one thing to be a liberal, it's another to claim that the
period 1929-1939 should be labelled "The Great Vacation."

[3]  ObRef George Stigler, also a very conservative Nobel Prizewinner
from U. Chicago.

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