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Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 3rd edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002603
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Clear and concise... Among economists of the past 30 years, (Sowell) stands very proud indeed." Wall Street Journal "Basic Economics is not only valuable for a general lay-person audience; it would also benefit lawyers, politicians, and yes, economists as well." Washington Times"

About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges and universities, including Cornell, University of California Los Angeles, and Amherst. He has published both scholarly and popular articles and books on economics, and is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

More About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

This book will make your brain hurt.
Glenn Pavlovic
The book is excellent, covering many economic topics in basic terms and giving lots and lots of historic examples for the points he makes!
D. Sweeley
It is an excellent book., and should be required reading for anyone interested in economics.
Marianne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 169 people found the following review helpful By J. Combs on June 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is simply the best book on understanding rudimentary economics available. This book takes a sophisticated subject and makes it very clear and understandable. While not as detailed as a textbook on the subject would be, it gets across the main theories of economics with real examples that can be understood and related to by almost anyone. This is simply the best and most readable source available to get a basic understanding of economic principles.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By DIY_Man on August 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Everyone without a degree in Economics should read this book. This is a very easy and practical way to understand basic economic principles. Sowell is a master at making seemingly complex concepts into something very understandable by removing all the unecessary jargon and replacing it with real life examples we can all understand. I'e read this book twice. The second reading two years later than the first. I got as much out of it the second time as I did the first. I'll share this book around the family, but will definately be getting it back again.
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81 of 91 people found the following review helpful By oribiasi on June 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When one thinks of economics, one is typically confronted with the kind of malaise that Jimmy Carter once spoke of. However, Sowell's book is filled with concrete examples of how to apply some basic and interesting principles of economics in daily life, and he explains why these principles are so fundamental to our lives. I think all high-school graduates with any sense should read this before signing up for credit cards or getting a job, and certainly any college student looking for work as well. A fantastic read, which is certainly difficult to do when one is speaking about the economy.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Arthur A. Brewer on July 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is simply an excellent read, taking the complicated subject of economics and making it totally understandable. Mr. Sowell, much like Hayek and Friedman, helps you understand how free markets, capital, supply and demand, and pricing are the true keys to freedom. This is a complete explanation as to how we use our talents, in a free society, to create wealth and provide products and services that others want or need. Beyond simple economics, this book helps you see how we all relate to one another through our economies, good and bad.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Hagios on March 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Incentives Matter
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The first and most important lesson in economics is this: incentives matter. What is an incentive? It is something that people want, and that usually means money. Making money is an incentive. The nice thing about free markets is that the incentives lead to efficient outcomes. That's what Adam Smith meant when he talked about the invisible hand. Markets are more than self-regulating. They are self-regulating and lead to outcomes that are good for everyone.

A good way to appreciate the invisible hand is to look at what goes wrong when the government interferes in markets. The classic case is rent control. That's when the government passes a law making it illegal for landlords to raise the price of rent. Normally when a bunch of people move to a city there is a temporary squeeze on housing. The demand goes up so the price goes up too. That's where the wisdom of "incentives matter" comes into the picture. High prices mean high profits. Entrepreneurs who build new apartments will get a chance to cash in on some of those windfall profits. High prices lead to an increase in the supply of apartments. The supply goes up and the price goes back down.

What happens with rent control? Since it is illegal to raise prices there is no incentive (there's that word again) for entrepreneurs to build new apartments. The supply can't go up to meet the demand. In fact the supply may go down because landlords may take existing rental units off the market because they are unprofitable. Now let's consider the demand side of the equation. Rent control perversely makes the demand go up. With high prices consumers have to economize. Rent a studio instead of a one-bedroom. Empty nesters may move into a smaller apartment.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Lee on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The phrase, "required reading" is thrown around a lot by the zealots of one particular novel or series. The term is purely subjective, and I rarely yield to their fervor when someone says, "everyone needs to read this book." Fiction is a wholly personal experience, the derived enjoyment purely reliant on each readers interpretation of the text. Basic Economics, however, is something entirely different. This book should be required reading for all Americans. I can say unequivocally that I have not read a more illuminating or insightful text in my life. Thomas Sowell is an economics professor at Stanford and an ardent supporter of objective and empirical approaches when studying the economy. Basic Economics is his attempt at stripping down economics to their most basic principles, supply and demand, profits and losses, etc; In doing so, he reveals many of the fallacies surrounding a free market economy, and contrasts a market economy to both socialist and communist systems.

The strength of Basic Economics lies in the way Dr. Sowell takes the inherently complex nature of macroeconomics and breaks it down into digestible, easy to understand parts. Naturally a scholar of Dr. Sowell's caliber is well-versed in the minutia, the formulas, and general complexities of economics, but his straight-forward approach reveals his passion for instilling in the so-called "everyman" a working foundation in the economic structure he/she is a part of every day. Naturally one may think a book about economics to be "boring", but this is far from the truth. He continually relates abstract theories into concrete examples, allowing the reader to relate to real-life scenarios many of which we deal with on a daily basis.

Politics and economics are inevitable dance partners, and Dr.
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