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Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 13, 2005

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With minimum use of jargon, the authors aim to provide concise and organized insight into economics. Targeting both beginners and experienced executives, they teach basic principles and also provide perspective on the influence of political rules and policies on people and nations. Employing the popular convention of "lists," the authors offer "Ten Key Elements of Economic Theory" (including there is no such thing as a free lunch; hence, we must choose among alternatives since productive resources are limited while human desire for goods and services is virtually unlimited); "Seven Major Sources of Economic Progress" (including the legal system); "Ten Elements of Clear Thinking about Economic Progress and the Role of Government" (competition, a disciplinary force, is as important in government as it is in markets); and "Twelve Key Elements of Practical Personal Finance" (including don't finance anything for longer than its useful life, avoid credit-card debt, and purchase used items.) This is an excellent, readable primer in economics. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"This book forms a bridge between common sense and the basic principles of economics. It is a guide to sound economic reasoning for everyone. Its language is relatively simple, clear, and straightforward without being oversimplified and without sacrificing the really important insights and conclusions. It is a book with a strong message---economic progress is the result of competitive markets, of individual initiatives, and of the limited role of government."
- Václav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic

"Splendid and informed exposition of the basic principles of economics. The economics is sophisticated, the exposition simple, concise, lucid, and free from jargon."
- Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel Prize winner

"This book provides the ABCs of how the world creates wealth without anyone having to be in charge because of market incentives---people are free to specialize, and by focusing on what they can do best for themselves, do unintended good for the rest of us. There is no other route to human betterment and poverty reduction."
- Vernon L. Smith, 2001 Nobel Prize winner

"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. Solid economic analysis, simply presented."
- James Buchanan, 1986 Nobel Prize winner

"This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the world really works and why economic freedom is the central ingredient of prosperity. If every citizen would read this book, our politics would be more enlightened and our nation more prosperous."
- Senator Connie Mack

"Gwartney, Stroup, and Lee tell us what everyone should know about economics in language we can all understand. It's refreshing, when three of the best in the profession avoid the all-too-common practice of writing in a code that only other economists can comprehend."
- Robert McTeer, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031233818X
  • ASIN: B005ZO6UGY
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The three authors managed to write a very good introduction to macroeconomics 101 without a single equation or a single supply demand curve. This is an excellent book for the layperson allergic to numbers. All macroeconomics principles are developed solely through narrative logic. Thus, the book is truly readable for anyone. For the ones who have expertise in economics, it is fascinating to observe how well the authors have presented the material in the absence of any quantitative methods.

The book is divided in four parts. Part I: Ten Key Elements of Economics; Part II: Seven Sources of Economic Progress; Part III: Economic Progress and the Role of Government; Part IV: Twelve Key Elements of Personal Finance. The parts vary in quality.

Part I is the best. It is a world class introduction to macroeconomics that is very accessible. You learn most everything you need to know about economic incentives, demand and supply, economic profit, competitive advantage of trade, and other fundamental concepts. I rate this part a 5.

Part II is very good too. It builds upon the foundation of Part I, and goes on to explain the necessary social infrastructure for a working economy including the Rule of Law, functioning capital markets, monetary stability, and free trade. It explains rather brilliantly why trade deficits do not matter a whole lot. This is because they have to be matched by capital inflows. The latter results in lower interest rates, more investments, and additional employment. The authors mention that from 1980 to 2003, the U.S. experienced chronic large trade deficits but employment expanded by 35 million jobs. The authors make an identical case for outsourcing.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Gintis on October 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a careful, sober, and measured conservative economic manifesto, something in the spirit of Henry Hazlett's famous Economics in One Lesson (Three Rivers Press, 1979), but longer and more detailed, with an addition on personal finance. The authors are rather sober and pedantic, so the reading is not great fun, but it is clear and logical.

The section on personal finance is the best part of the book, and covers virtually all important points about wise personal finance. Only the first two of the authors' twelve points require some emendation. Their first point is "discover your comparative advantage." (p. 123) This is of course true---you should do with your life what you are good at doing, not what others want you to do or what you think is morally the best thing to do. We humans have very heterogeneous capacities and we are most contented when we get to exercise those capacities that represent our relative strengths. However, among those activities in which you have a comparative advantage, to that which will give you the most personal satisfaction---this they do not mention. In particular, if you think that you should simply pick a profession that will maximize your income, you are making a bad mistake. Wealth is nice, but not if it is purchased by activities that you do not value and daily routines that you tolerate only because of what they offer in terms of material reward.

Their second point is "Be entrepreneurial. In a market economy, people get ahead by helping others and discovering better ways of doing things." I think this point is probably just wrong. The entrepreneurial spirit is one of several personality types, and is not necessarily associated with "helping others" or "discovering better ways of doing things.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Townsend on February 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is essentially a newer edition of a book previously released by the author. The writing is clear and concise on many basic economic principles. If you are looking for an indepth analysis of how economics effects socio-political issues, this is not the book you are looking for. However, if you are looking to begin setting a solid foundation for economic understanding there is perhaps no better place to begin.
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Format: Hardcover
This wonderful little book can best be described as Economics 101. The book is divided into four parts, with the first part explaining the basics of how an economy works. Part II delves into how economic progress happens, and how the government can work to further it. Part III focuses primarily on the how the US Government is interacting with the economy for good and for ill (more of the later, than the former, sadly). And finally, Part IV brings the subject of economics down to personal finance, giving good advice on how you can further your own economic progress.

Overall, I found this to be a great book. The authors did a great job of explaining how economics works and how it malfunctions, using simple language and simple analogies to make complex subjects quite understandable. If you are not knowledgeable about economics, but you would like to be, then this is a very good book to begin with. I highly recommend it to all Americans.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This title was recommended by a columnist in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review newspaper for the "average" citizen trying to understand how our Capitalist system is supposed to work. I agree that the writing is straight forward and easy to understand. Furthermore, IT MAKES COMPLETE SENSE, which is why our current leadership is acting opposite of its tenets. I am about half-way through the text. My son is studing business and, although below the level of detail he will have to master, I judge this outline to be a proper introduction for a 1st year college study.

I highly recommend this title; you won't be disappointed.
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