Christmas reading

Here are 3 books – with reviews from Amazon – that I would recommend for the holidays:

Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay (John Lanchester)
We are, to use a technical economic term, screwed. The cowboy capitalists had a party with everyone’s money and now we’re all paying for it. What went wrong? And will we learn our lesson – or just carry on as before, like celebrating surviving a heart attack with a packet of Rothmans? If you want to know, but are the sort of person who finds it hard to tell the difference between a CDO, a CDS, an MBS, and a toasted cheese sandwich, John Lanchester has mastered the finer points of finance so you don’t have to. In “Whoops!” he explains, in language everyone can understand, what really happened – and what on earth we do next.

Ship of Fools (Fintan O’Toole)
Between 1995 and 2007, the Republic of Ireland was the worldwide model of successful adaptation to economic globalisation. The success story was phenomenal: a doubling of the workforce; a massive growth in exports; a GDP that was substantially above the EU average. Ireland became the world’s largest exporter of software and manufactured the world’s supply of Viagra. The factors that made it possible for Ireland to become prosperous – progressive social change, solidarity, major State investment in education, and the critical role of the EU – were largely ignored as too sharply at odds with the dominant free market ideology. The Irish boom was shaped instead into a simplistic moral tale of the little country that discovered low taxes and small government and prospered as a result.

The Economic Naturalist (Robert Frank)
Although printed in 2007, this is a fascinating and playful guide to how economics explains the simple but profound ideas that govern our world. Why do the keypads on drive-up cash machines have Braille dots? Why are round-trip fares from Orlando to Kansas City higher than those from Kansas City to Orlando? For decades, Robert Frank has been asking his economics students to pose and answer questions like these as a way of learning how economic principles operate in the real world–which they do everywhere, all the time.

I am using this book as additional reading for the Cambridge AS level economics course next year.

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