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Economics For Dummies
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 17, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having accumulated several of the "for Dummies" books over the years, I find that they offer a great base knowledge of information on a wide variety of subjects and are very useful as a reference. That being said, some topics are a little too "meaty" to simplify so easily ... and I would have to include economics as one of those topics.

Although a business management degree required me to take several courses in economics over 20 years ago, I was well aware then that the subject matter was far more complex and deep than any of the overview courses I took. Needless to say, only the most basic economic principles have stuck with me over the years. Fast forward to today, with the economy being such an important issue in our lives, and ECONOMICS FOR DUMMIES seemed logical as both a refresher course and a reference. While I thought the presentation of economic s was as good as any of the "for Dummies" books, I quickly understood the reason I never retained the old college course material in the first place ... the subject matter is simply tedious. Face it, economics is a specialized and involved field of study that requires an attention span of more than a passing interest. In other words, economics is not for dummies at all.

What I like about ECONOMICS FOR DUMMIES is the standard "Dummies" format with the icons in the margins that allows the reader to distinguish what material is important to remember from the material that is superfluous. There are plenty of real-life scenarios presented to further illustrate the various economic concepts. What gets complicated is that the foundation of basic principles is compounded by so many intervening variables that the material may quickly overwhelm a reader. The real-life scenarios are helpful, but the speedy progression of economic concepts can render the reader lost in a sea of graphs, charts and economic vernacular. In other words, a person completely unfamiliar with economics may find the onslaught of such complicated, and quite frankly, boring subject matter a turnoff. I venture to say that the book would be better served if presented in smaller doses ("Supply and Demand for Dummies", "Macro-economics for Dummies", "Recession for Dummies", etc.) rather than a condensed overview of the entire realm of economics. Regardless, the book DOES provide an decent overview of economics and how it relates to the world today (meaning a lot of time is spent covering inflation and recession) in as simplified a manner as possible (no small feat). At the end of the book, the author provides an interesting list of economic myths that should be very enlightening to most readers.

The true value of the book, however, may be as a quick reference tool or resource to disseminate and somewhat understand what is being reported on the news, day in and day out ... after all "it's the economy, stupid". While most of us generally like to read a book from start to finish, there are some books that are best served as a reference to be pulled from the shelf when a question needs to be answered ... in that case, this book is invaluable.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 23, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )Verified Purchase
Had I read Economics for Dummies before I took the Econ 101, the class would have made much more sense. I finally understand how the government puts money into the economy, why many stimulus measures may not work at all, and the futility of price supports. While my huge Econ textbook contained arcane terms and copious footnotes, it's nice to know that the basic concepts of economics depend on neither of these. I suspect the author of having conservative leanings, and I suspect that some of his arguments are either oversimplified or have another side not presented here, but for the modest price of this book, I certainly gained insight for evaluating the political fray which is currently taking place and really obtained more useful information than I gained in the $1,000 class. (This book was provided to me by the Amazon Vine program, but I also bought a copy for my Kindle; every time I had a moment to read the free copy, I found it in my husband's hands! Oh, by the way, much as I love my Kindle, this is not a good book to read there. Increasing the type size does not increase the size of the formulas, leaving them very difficult to read.)
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I will actually discuss three books in this review. All are books on self-learning of economic theory for serious beginners.

Sean Flynn, Economics For Dummies (Wiley, 2011)
Tom Gorman, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Economics (Penguin, 2003)
Steve Slavin, Economics: A Self-Teaching Guide (Wiley, 1999)

People often ask me what to read to learn the type of basic economic theory that is taught in university graduate and undergraduate courses. This is somewhat difficult because most writers for the general public have some sort of political axe to grind and present a one-sided version of the theory, or a complete alternative to the theory. I have nothing against such writers, but I will always suggest that readers also/instead of/before reading these political pleadings, find out what the general "received wisdom" is.

It may seem that there is no "received wisdom" that is shared by most economists, but this is not the case. Except in the area of macroeconomic policy, there are few disagreements. In the macroeconomic area, the standard models are pretty awful, but economic policy types have deeper problems: general models can show you the general direction of effects, but when there are offsetting directions, only quantitative evidence can supply a credible answer. For instance, increasing government expenditure to lower the unemployment rate may be offset by the effects of government debt on interest, inflation, and growth rates. Only careful attention to details can determine the net effect of the policy, and even this is subject to significant error. However, you cannot even begin to assess economic policy seriously unless you know basic economic theory.

The books reviewed here are basic starting points for gaining a facility in economic theory. Alternatively, you can simply buy one of the leading undergraduate textbooks and plow through it. The textbook will be more demanding, very fat, and quite expensive. Before doing this, I advise that you tackle one or more of the above volumes. They are all quite good, and it wouldn't hurt to read them all. But, here are my impressions.

Economics for Dummies is the most sophisticated of the three books and covers extremely important material left out of the others. This includes an analysis of property right, market externality, public goods, asymmetric information, and other absolutely fundamental aspects of modern economic theory, which is really the theory of the interaction between markets and macroeconomic regulation for efficiency and stability. It rather weak on national income accounting (none of the books is strong in this very difficult area), and it does no general equilibrium analysis (e.g., the very instructive Edgeworth box is missing). Finally, the book rather slights statistical information on the economy and give little historical perspective.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Economics is a little out of date (2003), and is especially concerned with regulatory policy in dealing with volatile economies. It has lots of interesting statistics, and gives a detailed explanation of the Federal Reserve and its operation. It is similarly strong on analyzing international trade and exchange rates. Read this after Economics for Dummies.

Economics: A Self-Teaching Guide cannot deal with recent economic issues because it was published in 1999, but it is well worth reading. It is especially strong on economic history and it presents in some detain the various schools of thought in macroeconomic theory. It also does considerable national income accounting, which I consider a prerequisite to understanding current economic issues. Its microeconomics sections are rather brief. It is certainly not a substitute for Economics for Dummies.

If readers have comments and/or suggestions of these or other candidates for learning basic economic theory, please pass them on to me.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I picked this book up because I'm constantly barraged by the media and politicians on their political takes of the economy. Democrats believe that bottom up works and republicans believe in supply side. I wanted to get away from the power driven hype and reestablish the sliver of knowledge gained in my college micro and macro course study.

My verdict? Certainly this book takes you back to school and requires some dedication to obtaining its concepts. I was expecting more of a high level approach but found that it's significantly detailed in concepts with charts, graphs, and formulae. It's not a casual read and I will admit to skipping to topics of interest to prevent being overwhelmed by topics i didn't have relative references to. I find now that I use it as a reference to topics to better understand what I run into. QE2 is no longer a ship to me.

i did like the end of the book in which the author covered the bubble and financial crisis. He does so without coloring it with politics and evenly details aspects that impacted the crisis. It's no longer effective to just demonize Wall Street, Main Street or the Government. All three's impacts were reviewed in a way that helps understand without pushing a bias. Good book, I'd recommend it. If your ego won't let you carry a dummies' book, get the Kindle version :)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 13, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Economics is sometimes called "the dismal science," and many of us who struggled through college economics classes know why. This book is the opposite of dismal.

This is an excellent introduction to economics, but it does have its limitations. It is, after all, a "for Dummies" book. It's not intended to be a scholarly or comprehensive economics text. Like all of the "for Dummies" books, the material is presented in easy-to-chew bites, which inevitably means that the author compresses and summarizes material which, in a comprehensive text, would be much more fully explored.

However, this book is nonetheless extremely good. The author wrote one of the most widely used college economics texts, so he knows what he's talking about, and he knows how to write a book about it. In a way, this "for Dummies" book is a kind of Readers Digest version of his college text book. And it's very much worth reading.

It does an excellent job of covering all of the basic principles of economics and and a superior job of defining and illustrating the many specialized terms in economics. I especially liked two things: First, there are numerous "real world example" sidebars that make the theoretical concepts being discussed much easier to understand. Second, whenever the author does simplify a concept, he very clearly says he's doing it.

This updated edition of the book also has an excellent discussion of the various aspects of the meltdown in the world's financial system. It's one of the best, clearest such explanations of the crisis and its causes that I've seen.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a comprehensive, detailed, authoritative economics textbook, this is not that book. Rather, it's a very well written summary of the essential principles of economics. I recommend it most highly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am a 60-year-old woman going back to school to earn my degree to try to get a better job. I am a big fan of the "Dummies" books and when I saw Econ coming up on the class list, I had to nail this one. This book really brought home the concepts of economics for me and helped me pull out an A in class. Can't recommend enough if you have an interest...the book is packed with information.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 29, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sadly not even the "Dummies" series can make economics not sound like one of those college courses you had to take in order to graduate. That said, had my economics textbook been written in this light a manner I might have stuck with it.

This book does a good job of explaining fundamental concepts in the field, as well as contrary viewpoints where the conventional wisdom has proven to be insufficient to predict things or where there is an intelligent contrary viewpoint.

Best of all, the chapters do not have to be read in order or in their entirety, and interesting concepts that are not critical are set off in sidebar format. There is a summary of points in each chapter, making it useful as a handy reference guide.

A great book for those of us wanting to understand all the talking heads out there going on about the free market, the stimulus, the jobs act and all those other things about which the experts can't agree.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 5, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Have you ever wanted to know more of Economics? Meaning, have you ever wanted a brief, college-type knowledge of Economics minus all of the coursework, and essays? If you stumbled upon Economics for Dummies, you can stop right here because; you found what you are looking for.

What is this book not? It is not a mass collection of theories, essays, or a focused study of any one particular area. What this book does include however, is the basic knowledge (with diagrams, and numbers to get you prepared for further study) of many areas of Economics. Frankly, you will be able to hold discussions with others of economical issues, be able to form your own opinion of what is going on around the world, and be able to distinguish what some of the problems mean when you see them lambasted in a newspaper or news channel.

The book, for the most part, can be described in 2 sections: World of Microeconomics and World of Macroeconomics, and trust me; you will have a good working knowledge of both by the time you read this book. Some of the Dummies' books are dumb downed to a degree, but this one is more on par with a conversational, purposeful discussion of the field of economics.

Students--thinking about a degree in economics? Start here. Want to start an independent study in the field of economics, but do not want to go back to school? Buy this book. There is so much valuable information here that it is hard to go into detail what you will gain. What I can say is that, there is nothing important about economics that is left out in Economics for Dummies.

The cost to benefit ratio is positively disproportionate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 9, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
With the economy today and with politicians pointing the finger at anyone but themselves, I wanted to understand what's going on in our world. I had taken a microeconomics class in college and liked it and thought this book might offer some more insight on the big picture.

The good news is that it covers a lot. Well, at least it covered everything I was interested in, and more. Chapter 17 was especially enlightening and I learned a lot from this book. I especially liked the tid-bits of info in the gray boxes and wished there was more of them.

The bad news (well, to some people, not all) is that you really need your brain to be in gear when you're reading. It might be a Dummies book but you can't just sit back and expect to learn this stuff by osmosis. There's many charts and graphs to decipher, complicated concepts covered and even (gasp!) Algebra! (It's simple algebra though.)

All in all, a worthy book. Definitely teaches you about what's going on in our world.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are planning to take an economics course, particularly microeconomics, do yourself a favor and read this book first. It does a really great job of getting across all the basic ideas. After a thorough read of this book, you'll be able to tackle that dry textbook.

Having said that, I should add that this isn't by any means a light read. If you are *not* considering taking a course or two in economics, then be forewarned that this book, even with all the author did to make it readable, requires some serious effort.

In economics you learn about how consumers and producers and governments behave through the use of mathematical models. At the introductory level addressed by this book, those models are not particularly complex; there are no formulas in this book that involve anything but elementary algebra, and even then you are not asked to solve them. What you *will* have to do in order to get something out of this book is look at a number of graphs in which, for example, the quantity of a product demanded by consumers is plotted against the its price, and understand what is going on at the point where that line intersects with some other line. Pretty soon you'll be looking at graphs with four or five lines on them and being asked to understand what this has to say about how people and companies will behave.

If you are comfortable with graphs and can readily move back and forth in your mind between lines on a graph and the concepts they represent, you'll do fine with reasonable effort. The author does a great job of explaining the graphs and relating them to the real world.

Incidentally, I think it would have helped some if the author had put some of that great explanation into the graph itself. As it is, you see a graph with a bunch of lines and labels on it and then read a couple of paragraphs that explain what it all means. If the author had annotated the graphs (in the spirit of the "Head First" series of books) so that the key points were in the graph itself, I think the book would be even more readable.

Nevertheless the author did a great job of conveying economics concepts in an interesting way; I wish more books were written like this, not avoiding the math but presenting it clearly.
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