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Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science Hardcover – October 13, 2015

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Economics Rules, by one of the world's truly great economists, describes in fascinating and incredibly well-written detail what it means to be an economist. In so doing it explains why, and when, economists often get it right, but also why they also frequently go astray.” (George Akerlof, Nobel laureate in economics)

“The best economists make the best methodologists, and Dani Rodrik is both. His Economics Rules is the single best source for explaining the strengths and weaknesses of economics to an outside audience.” (Tyler Cowen, George Mason University, author of The Great Stagnation)

“In Economics Rules, enjoyment enhances learning, with lessons for economists and non-economists alike―indeed, ten commandments for each. The book is a page-turner with every page carrying an important and memorable take-away.” (Margaret Levi, director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University)

About the Author

Dani Rodrik, a prize-winning economist, is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of The Globalization Paradox and Economics Rules.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (October 13, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393246418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393246414
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a very thoughtful book. As a non-economist I appreciate the care and labor that has gone into explaining the discipline to outsiders.

While not dwelling on the suffering caused by the hasty privatization of assets, the radicalization of the Washington consensus, and the deregulation of derivatives, Rodrik argues that these policy prescriptions did not necessarily follow from economic science. He argues that economists had available to them models that should have deflated optimism about these radical policy prescriptions. These models should have made more economists alert to imperfect information and competition, coordination failures, second best perversities, principal-agent misalignments, etc.

These elegant models specify causal mechanisms and can be empirically tested. Rodrik is more than successful in defending the epistemological value of the economists' practice of model building and empirical testing, though one of course can differ about the critical assumptions that should be built into them. Rodrik himself raises tough questions about the limits of empirical testing.

If economists are to be faulted, says Rodrik, it should be for allowing discussion to be dominated by those economists that do not admit that economics has produced several and even competing models and that the best economists struggle to determine which ones fit best in specific situations; the economists who came to dominate discussion also often laced their policy prescriptions with extra-economic value judgments as if these followed from the scientific choosing and testing of models.

Rodrik argues that there are no general, all-encompassing theories in economics that provide universally-valid causal accounts and answer tough moral questions.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dani Rodrik explains economists, their methodologies, biases, strengths, and weaknesses for non economist intellectuals. The book read like an extended opening statement at an Ivy League faculty dinner debate. The defensive attitude is impossible to miss but does not detract from the overall quality of the arguments. It would be fascinating to read a rebuttal by an equally talented academic from a competing discipline. It would be equally enlightening to watch Professor Rodrik arguing for the negative team in an Oxford style debate on the question "Resolved, economists are so full of it their eyes are brown." He just might win over the audience. At the very least he would make them think. I am curious who he would recommend as his opponent in that debate.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I teach economics and yet learnt a lot. Rodrik is an outstanding writer and this book is better than many of his other ones. I'll use it in my courses, because it points at how to use the toolkits that we have in store. We do this constantly, without realizing. Here, Rodrik puts the process in plain light and helps us id and systematize it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a personal reflection of an economist on his profession. Rodrik wants to answer the question 'In what sense is economics a science?' In doing so, he criticizes some economists that 'are not always good about drawing the links between their models and the world.' (p.171) He ascribes their failings to 'the guild mentality renders the profession insular and immune to outside criticism.' (P.171 - 72) Nevertheless, he states clear his own views on economic models, what they are and what they can and cannot do with a lot of examples. After all, models make economics a science. Accordingly, progress in economics is advanced not by discarding old models but by collecting more newer ones, all useful in some context-specific settings. One important caveat, economics as a social science is not to be confused with physical science.

I appreciate Rodrik's undogmatic and eclectic approach to doing economics. Also, I believe that is the right attitude to knowledge-seeking.
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Format: Hardcover
I grabbed this book because it was making a minor stir in the blog-o-sphere.

It was kind of a let down. Rodrik is a bit of a rebel when it comes to economics discourse (once wrote a book doubting fully the benefits of globalization *fainting couch). But even then the options that he looks at seem narrowly circumscribed - mostly macro from new keynesian to new classical! To his credit, Marx raises his head, if only to be dismissed.

What I really like is the framing of the book as looking at models, and how they are useful and how they are not as necessary simplifications of the real world - he even cites one of my favorite Jorge Borges stories to tell about the necessity of simplification. He also looks at the fox / hedgehog divide, in that true knowledge is knowing what model to use when looking at the explanation of a past event, and not over reliance on a strong theory that will too often lead you astray.

The big problem for me was that the model using is almost all backwards looking. If you know what happened and you can pick the right model you’re golden, but he discounts being able to know the future. Maybe I missed something, but isn’t a large part of trying to understand the past so that you can more accurately predict the future? If there is no ultimately one correct model and they do grow horizontally (a multiplicity) instead of replacing dead models as he calls it vertically, are we doomed to be having the same arguments generation after generation only with more powerful computers and fancier math?
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