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Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (September 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393049825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393049824
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ever wonder what it means when the Fed raises interest rates? Or why there are occasional fears of inflation? To the rescue comes this simplified and chatty nontextbook textbook. Using words rather than math, it makes economics accessible, comprehensible and appealing. Wheelan, the Economist's Midwest correspondent, breezily explains the big picture, including finance, capital markets, government institutions and more. His informal style belies the sophisticated and scholarly underpinnings of his subject. Wheelan champions the often-maligned science: "Economics should not be accessible only to the experts. The ideas are too important and too interesting." Well before book's end, highly persuasive yet simply illustrated concepts sway the reader. Complex ideas are demystified and made clear, using familiar examples, such as the price of sweatshirts at the Gap. A chapter on financial markets compares a grapefruit and ice cream fad diet with get-rich-quick schemes. (He wryly offers the mantra "Save. Invest. Repeat.") Similarly, an explanation of interest rates compares them to "rental rates," an easy-to-grasp concept. And to convey what the major international institutions do, Wheelan writes: "If the World Bank is the world's welfare agency, then its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the fire department responsible for dousing international financial crises." Wheelan's simplicity does not mask the detailed encapsulation of complicated issues, such as relative wealth, globalization and the importance of human capital. He smartly shows that while economic consequences can be global, they are also a part of everyday life.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Economics has often been an orphan in the world of college electives largely ignored, rarely enjoyed, and almost instantly forgotten by undergraduates. In his new book, Wheelan, a Chicago-based correspondent for the Economist, has decided to shake the dust off economics, making the case that it is not just an arcane academic science but a practical set of tools. Though he admits that many of us are "economically illiterate," his book is "not economics for dummies, it is economics for smart people who have never studied economics (or have only a vague recollection of doing so)." Eschewing jargon, charts, and equations, Wheelan gives us the essentials. He clearly defines terms like GDP and inflation, explaining how they work and what the short- and long-term impact might be. He makes a convincing argument that there is a role for "good" governmental regulation, using the Federal Reserve as a model. He also examines the pros and cons of taxation. Topics like productivity, trade, and globalization are insightfully covered as well. This is a thoughtful, well-written introduction to economics, with the author projecting a genuine excitement for his material that makes it not quite so dismal. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. Richard Drezen, The Washington Post/New York City BureauEducation
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Former correspondent for The Economist, current columnist for Yahoo!, and professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, Charles Wheelan lives in Chicago with his family.

Customer Reviews

In this book, the author explains economics from a practical and applicable standpoint.
Shane
I would also recommend it as a supplemental textbook to go along with a basic econ textbook for advanced high school students or Econ 101 type classes in college.
DWD's Reviews
Everyone should read this book as it makes concepts of economics easily understandable and interesting.
AndyC88

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

230 of 250 people found the following review helpful By Caraculiambro on February 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been studying economics for the past six months or so from various texts, plodding through all of them by dint of perseverance and a sense of duty.

For some light reading, I picked this book up. From it, my studies of economics gained renewed vigor, because this was the first book that really made me LOVE ECONOMICS. After reading it I saw most economic ideas -- especially macroeconomic ideas -- in a new light.

Folks, it's fantastic. Absorbing, witty, and clearly-written.

Not only will you come to basically understand many important economic principles from reading it, but the book contains not a single graph, chart, or unsavory equation.

This is the only economics books I've ever read and read, until I was done: on the john, in the tub, on the bus, etc. I just could not put it down!

The thing I really like is Wheelan's genius for picking examples, many of which will boggle your mind and stick with you for days.

Wheelan has also got a great sense of humor. When's the last time that you found yourself laughing out loud every few pages while reading an economics book?

Here's an example:

"The sultan of Brunei earned billions of dollars in oil revenues in the 1970s. Suppose he had stuffed that cash under his mattress and left it there. He would have had several problems. First, it is very difficult to sleep with billions of dollars stuffed under the mattress. . ."
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90 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Nelson on July 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book to anyone unfamiliar with basic economics, or looking for a simple, easy-to-read introduction to the science. Wheelan does a great job explaining the nuts and bolts of a free market system, and why this economic system as it stands is currently the most successful in the world. He's devoted chapters to the power of markets, incentives, the government, information, productivity, human capital, finance, the federal reserve, organized interests, trade and globalization, and ends with a discussion as to what it would take for poorer, less developed countries to get out of poverty. After reading Thomas Sowell's, "Basic Economics" I found Charles Wheelan's writing to be refreshingly balanced, and more humorous. That said, I still think both writers and books are worth-while. Anyone unconvinced that a free market system is the best economic system available, or wishing to know more about the system in which we live ought to read these books. Especially if you're against free trade, and fear "globablization". Wheelan admits there are serious social consequences and problems related to bad government, but insinuates (with a little more finesse than Sowell) that the problems are mostly rooted in bad policies, not economics. Corruption and dishonest politicians and leaders impoverish countries, not capitalism itself. However you choose to look at these issues, I think Wheelan does an excellent job at providing the fundamentals of the world in which we operate on a daily basis, and reading "Naked Economics" can only help one understand how to better affect desired change. Every college student should be required to read this!
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61 of 70 people found the following review helpful By King Yao on July 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Naked Economics is a good introduction to economics for the layman. There is no math, although personally I wish Wheelan had used some to back up some of his points or to show some issues in more depth. It is well written and easy to read. So even though the information is as useful as many textbooks, it isn't tough to understand it.

Subjects covered include: why capitalism and free markets is better than communism and state-controlled markets; how information is crucial (such as product or corporate branding and health insurance for individuals); efficiency of financial markets (why the individual is often foolish when he buys a stock after reading a tip from the newspaper); and why international trade is good even if special interest groups may oppose it due to job losses.

Readers on both the extreme left or right will be able to pick up certain issues in the book that they disagree with. They will then pick those up and attack Wheelan for being an extreme liberal or an extreme conservative. They will accuse him of not caring about U.S. jobs; they will accuse him of pandering to the environmentalists. For those readers, their mind is already made up before the read this book. For open-minded readers, this book will be very enjoyable and interesting.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Naked economics is an extraordinary account of what economics really is and how they should teach it. Unfourtunately current professors think that throwing a lot of math at you (without any intuition whatsoever) makes them look intelligent. Economics is much more fun (not necessarily easier) than solving a hundred optimization problems without any regard for the real world.
To all the people who design economics undergraduate programs in the U.S. please understand that: (1) we need something useful, (2) most of us are not going to study a ph.d., (3)we need a tool for understanding the world, not something we won't remember six months after the end of the course. What was a Lagrangean anyway?
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