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Inside the Economist's Mind: Conversations with Eminent Economists Paperback – October 26, 2006


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Inside the Economist's Mind: Conversations with Eminent Economists + Eminent Economists: Their Life Philosophies + Eminent Economists II: Their Life and Work Philosophies
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (October 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405159170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405159173
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Inside the Economist's Mind is a very rare thing--an economic page-turner. The personalities behind the frontiers of economic research make for compelling reading. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Stephen Kinsella, University of Limerick

"A wonderful collection of personal and professional insights by Economics' leading intellectuals. Each one is worth reading."
Professor Mark Watson, Princeton University


"In candid interviews, these great economists prove to be fabulous storytellers of their lives and times. Unendingly gripping for insiders, this book should also help non-specialists understand how economists think."
Julio Rotemberg, Harvard University Business School

"The interviews in this volume are unique intellectual documents in the history of economic thought, economic policy, and biography. Scholars will value them as primary sources. Readers with only a passing interest in economics will be delighted by their entertaining insights into the minds and lives of these great thinkers. This is one of the most valuable projects in academic economic publishing for a long time, and we should all be grateful to the journal, Macroeconomic Dynamics, for collecting these archival treasures over a number of years."
Professor Douglas Gale, New York University

"Economics has made swift progress in the past few decades and its role in policy-making has radically increased. The interviews of many of the most prominent researchers and policy-makers offer a unique insider view of these developments. This book is fascinating reading to anyone interested in contemporary economics and its role in modern societies."
Seppo Honkapohja, University of Cambridge

"Economics used to be called the 'dismal science'. It will be impossible for anybody to hold that view anymore after reading these interviews. This is science with flesh and blood, and a lot of fascinating stories that you will find nowhere else."
Dr. Jean-Pascal Bénassy, Paris-Jourdan Sciences Économiques (PSE) and Centre pour la Recherche Economique et ses Applications

"This book provides a rare and intriguing view of the personal and professional lives of leading economists, and the circumstances that facilitated their creative breathroughs. It is like A Beautiful Mind, scaled by a factor of 16 [the number of interviews in the book]."
Professor Lee Ohanian, UCLA

"Histories of economic analysis abound, but if you want an insider view of how economics has been developing in the last decades, this is the (only) book for you."
Giancarlo Gandolfo, University of Rome

"Here we see the human side of path-breaking research, the personalities and pitfalls, the drama behind the science."
Professor Francis X. Diebold, University of Pennsylvania

"These 25-page conversations quickly hone in on what makes these leading economists from the academic world and public policy corridors tick, and how they--and the profession itself--evolved in research and thinking." CHOICE

Book Description

By focusing on the human side as well as the intellectual dimensions of how economists work and think, this collection of interviews with top economists of the 20th century becomes a startling and lively introduction to the modern world of macroeconomics. Acclaim for Inside the Economistrsquo;s Mind In candid interviews, these great economists prove to be fabulous story tellers of their lives and times. Unendingly gripping for insiders, this book should also help non-specialists understand how economists think. Professor Julio Rotemberg, Harvard University Business School, and Editor, Review of Economics and Statistics. Economics used to be called the 'dismal science'. It will be impossible for anybody to hold that view anymore ... This is science with flesh and blood, and a lot of fascinating stories that you will find nowhere else. Dr. Jean-Pascal Beacute;nassy, Paris-Jourdan Sciences Eacute;conomiques, Paris, France This book provides a rare and intriguing view of the personal and professional lives of leading economists ... It is like A Beautiful Mind, scaled by a factor of 16 [the number of interviews in the book]. Professor Lee Ohanian, University of California at Los Angeles ... if you want an insider view of how economics has been developing in the last decades, this is the (only) book for you. Professor Giancarlo Gandolfo, University of Rome lsquo;La Sapienza,rsquo; Rome Here we see the HUMAN side of path-breaking research, the personalities and pitfalls, the DRAMA behind the science. Professor Francis X. Diebold, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Kibsella on January 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of interviews commissioned for a journal, Macroeconomic Dynamics. The idea is to gauge the position of the profession by asking the people who invented large swathes of the theory their motivations for doings what they did, when they did it, and how they did it. Readers find eccentric and irascible characters behind some of the major innovations in economic science. I loved this book, and read it cover to cover in a day.

The book purports (pg. xi) to "contain[] unique insights into the thinking of some of the world's most important economists, whose work contributed to the evolution of modern economic thought", and indeed it does.

Scientific biography is a passion of mine, ever since reading Richard Feynman's writings on his life and work. Looking at the path integral method as an undergraduate, you can see how he came up with it (if, in fairness, I didn't really understand it), how startlingly original he was in doing his physics, because that's how he lived his life---he followed different paths as he felt he needed to, and arrived at different destinations that others because of his personality.

So it's great that William Barnett, the editor of Macroeconomic Dynamics, and the co-editor of this book, decided to ask these men these questions.

In future editions of this book and the further volumes to come, I'd love to see a focus on the characters behind different approaches to economics and their reasons for taking contrarian positions to the mainstream---Foley, Nell, Solow and Velupillai (my thesis advisor, in full disclosure), as well as more traditional mainstays of the profession. A focus on economists regarded primariy as great teachers would be great as well, not just the theoretical giants.

The book is a very rare thing---an economic page-turner, like The Worldly Philosopher, Adam's Fallacy, and Freakonomics. The personalities behind the science's blleding edge make for compelling reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JJ vd Weele on July 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Inside the economist's mind" is not a title that will attract readers without some background in economics, nor should it. This collection of interviews is by economists and for economists: there is a fair amount of economic jargon used that will make the book hard to read for laypeople.

Having said that, most of the interviews are entertaining for economists. Getting an author's personal view on well-known ideas makes those ideas come alive, and it is interesting to read about the career paths and choices of famous academics. The selection of people is impressive, although in my personal view (as a micro-economist) there is an overrepresentation of macro-economists, and within this category an exaggerated interest for the rational expectations `revolution' and monetary policy.
For those with other interests, treasures are more limited. There is a great and provocative interview with Robert Aumann that ranges from the existence of God to the foundations of game theory. The interview with János Kornai is great because having started his career on the other side of the iron curtain, he has a different perspective on the discipline. This is welcome, because it turns out that top-economists are a rather incestuous bunch, mostly bred within the top 10 or so departments in the US. This generates a lot of uninteresting institutional insider talk, the summit of which is reached in the useless last chapter in where James Tobin and Bob Shiller argue about the existence or not of a `Yale school' in economic thought, as if anyone cares.

Some reviews talk about the `astonishing revelations' or the 'fabulous storytellers' in this book. Don't get your hopes up, it's still economics, unless they refer to the fact that Cass once said "[...]" to his head of department.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mindy on November 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A review of this new book just appeared on the British blog, New Economist, in London. The first line of the review is "Published earlier this week, Inside the Economist's Mind: Conversations with Eminent Economists, has all the hallmarks of an economic bestseller."

I have read the book, and indeed the New Economist is right. What most distinguishes this book is its "no holds barred" revelations and astonishing statements by many of the world's most famous "celebrity" economists, including eight Nobel Laureates, a former Federal Reserve Board chairman, the current Governor of the Bank of Israel, a former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, along with other economists of similar importance. This book is filled with inside information from those who know the truth, but had not previously revealed it.

The book contains some unusual photos, such as photos of Franco Modigliani with the Kings of Sweden and Spain and Paul Samuelson with Bill Clinton.
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Inside the Economist's Mind: Conversations with Eminent Economists
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