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Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity Hardcover – August 3, 2010

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Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity + The Economics of Public Issues (18th Edition) (Pearson Series in Economics)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Second Edition, Revised, Updated edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312644892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312644895
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Economic Journalism is often based on slip-shod analysis; scientific treatises are analytically coherent but unintelligible.  This book is an effort to
bridge the awesome gap between these levels of discourse.  It is solid economic analysis, simply presented.” --Nobel Laureate James Buchanan

“If this book had been written a century ago the wasteful experiments with command economies might have been avoided. After my college-age children read this new edition, their understanding of how markets create social cooperation and wealth and how they can personally be guided in their finances sharply advanced.” —Gary M. Walton, Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis and President of the Foundation for Teaching Economics

"I gave a copy of Common Sense Economics to one of my colleagues who teaches accounting here. He read it this weekend and thought it was so good that he is considering paying his students (half the cost) to read it. We both think the lessons are perfect."—Kelly Hunter Markson, Ph.D., Instructor of Economics, Wake Technical Community College

"My high school students really enjoy this book. It is easy for them to understand and it presents important economic concepts in plain language using clear, often clever, examples. They read the whole book, and we discuss it page by page during class discussion. I believe they get more out of it than their regular text."—David Gardner, Principal and Teacher, Frederica Academy (Georgia)

Common Sense Economics is about both personal prosperity and the wealth of nations. It explains how and why ordinary people are able to accomplish extraordinary things when they are economically free and when the policies and institutions of their government are supportive of that  freedom.”     —Wayne Angell, Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1986–1994)

Common Sense Economics makes economic principles as obvious and simple as they can be. By weaving careful reasoning with memorable examples and clear writing, the authors explain how economies grow (or don’t grow); how prices coordinate economic activity; and how governments promote or deter economic progress. This is an extraordinary contribution to economic education.”     —Kenneth G. Elzinga, Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics, University of Virginia

 “Economics is not only fun and exciting, it’s mostly plain common sense. The authors have done a yeoman’s job in proving just that. Common Sense Economics is not only a fun, readable read but can serve as a handy and important reference for students, teachers, businessmen, members of the media, politicians, and trained economists.”       —Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, George Mason University

Common Sense Economics takes the economic way of thinking to the next level. If every high school graduate understood the principles in this book, people would make wiser choices as consumers, producers, and citizens and the United States would be more prosperous.” —John Morton, former Vice President for Program Development, National Council on Economic Education

“In a time when public policy is being influenced primarily by need, greed, and compassion, this text sets out, in laymen’s terms, the most basic understanding of how the economy really works. Common Sense Economics is a must-read for anyone interested in the truth about wealth creation and effective public policy.” --J. R. Clark, Probasco Chair, The University of Tennessee and Executive Director, Association of Private Enterprise Education


About the Author

James Gwartney holds the Gus A. Stavros Eminent Scholar Chair at Florida State University and is the director of the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education. 

Richard Stroup is the author of Eco-Nomics and an adjunct professor of economics at North Carolina State University. 

Dwight Lee is coauthor of Getting Rich in America and holds the William J. O’Neil Chair of Global Markets and Freedom at Southern Methodist University.

Tawni Hunt Ferrarini is the Sam M. Cohodas Professor of Economics and the Director of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at Northern Michigan University.


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Customer Reviews

I hate reading!
Julane Eileen Lowry
Everyone that I have given this to book to read has ended up buying a copy for themselves.
Anyone who wants an easy to understand view of economics should read this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Jordan on December 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book was very helpful in the understanding of economics. It helps people get a better perspective on personal finance, democracy, and especially macroeconomics. I think this book should be a required textbook for government and economics classes because it gives you a down to earth understanding of all the different aspects in economics. The authors of this book made it simple for anyone of any age to comprehend the material. There is an abundance of concepts and detailed information to assist people with their struggles in understanding economics.

In each part of the book the reader can grasp specific information on personal finance, economic progress, economics in our government, and lastly basic economics itself. This book helped me understand how the American government system worked and it clarifies liberal thoughts that conservatives should see. There are parts that describe competition and that is very important. My generation needs to understand that college needs to be a necessity because we are going to competing for our jobs and futures with other very well educated people from various intelligent countries. The book expands on investing and saving and those are both crucial actions that need to be done by future college attendees like myself.

There are several aspects of this book that I will keep with me. This booked has helped me better understand the flow of money, political problems in our economy, and the elements of economics that I have previously learned in my Econ class. I would suggest this book to anyone who doesn't fully understand economics or anyone who is just interested in a good read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Morgan Polotan on January 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Common Sense Economics should be read by every person in the world. It is that important.

Four economics professors (Gwartney, Stroup, Lee, Ferrarini) set out to make economics easy to understand for the layperson, and with Common Sense Economics they have succeeded. This is the book that I will give to my Mom, who wants to understand how markets work but has no interest in reading through the dense academic treatises of Mises. This is the book that I will give to my friend who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the objective facts of economics, but doesn't want the "free market biases" associated with Hayek. This is the book that I would recommend to other college students that want specific examples of how they can use economic analysis to evaluate current public policy decisions without traveling 70 years into the past with Hazlitt to commiserate on FDR's New Deal policies.

Common Sense Economics is split into four parts, titled: (1) Twelve Key Elements of Economics, (2) Seven Major Sources of Economic Progress (3) Economic Progress and the Role of Government, and (4) Twelve Key Elements of Practical Personal Finance. In this review I will cover the first three.

In Twelve Key Elements of Economics, the authors present the basic, fundamental rules of economics. They introduce the key concepts of incentives, marginal analysis, trade, division of labor, specialization, prices, profits and economic institutions. They also use this section to debunk popular economic fallacies; most notably, the myth of the free lunch, and the belief that more jobs, not increased productivity, raise living standards.

In Seven Major Sources of Economic Progress, the authors answer the question, "Why are some countries rich and others poor?
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Estes on September 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'd say a healthy interest in economic math and data tables is a good prerequisite before diving into Common Sense Economics. It's not a long book nor overly wordy. It's just, well, about economics. Not exactly a thriller novel. The value here is that the principles discussed affect the lives of everyone everywhere. The laws of economics, similar to the laws of physics, are visible all around us, and to understand them is to understand part of what makes the world turn.

Those familiar with libertarian viewpoints will recognize that much of the book is themed that way. If you happen to disagree with libertarian thinking, and yet are open to challenging your beliefs, then I recommend trying to understand Common Sense Economics through the lens of logic and math and not from the all-too-common vantage point of political ideology.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Megan on June 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I had to read this book for an Intro to Economics course as our only text. It is written by and for people who embrace Free Market Capitalism-- no other economic theories are offered. This wouldn't be so bad if it was more upfront that it was one of many theories of economics. The perils of communism are often offered as the only alternative to the free market system and the Keynesian theory was mentioned exactly once in a derogatory manner (and in passing) with no explanation of what it is. The book is written in a polarizing manner that will not appeal to or persuade anyone who doesn't already subscribe to the beliefs of the authors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very libertarian and sometimes leans to the right politically, but it explains economics in a way that is easily understandable. Just keep in mind the political skew - especially when it comes to privatization v. public use funding. The authors offer an online course through FSU for teachers that I highly recommend.
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