Subject: Economics
From: Brian Marick <>
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 15:31:31 -0500

Some postings have left me with the perhaps-mistaken impression that the
posters haven't read much on economics. I don't refer to everyone, and I'm
*certainly* not referring to you.

I know that we're in a New Economy, that we're shipping bits not atoms ...
increasing returns ... path dependence ... wearable computers ... (whoops,
wandered off into a jargon fugue, there).  But familiarity with the
old-fashioned economics of wheat, lighthouses, natural monopolies, and the
like is perhaps still useful for free software businesspeople. Maybe even
more so than to old-fashioned businesspeople, who can just let the
Invisible Hand push them around rather than discover new ways to make money.

Let me recommend _Principles of Economics_ by N. Gregory Mankiw.  It's
quite clear and lucid and readable.  It's an introductory text, so I think
it hews pretty closely to the orthodoxy (though I think Mankiw is a

I also liked _Hidden Order:  The Economics of Everyday Life_, by David
Friedman, though I think the exposition in Mankiw is a touch more orderly
and clear.

Note: even after having read these and a couple other books, I know I'm
pretty ignorant about economics, so please excuse me if the tone of this
note is overbearing. It was meant to be light-hearted and droll.

Brian Marick, Testing Foundations (a training and consulting company),