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Profile for Zack Miller > Reviews


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Greenspan : The Man Behind Money
Greenspan : The Man Behind Money
by Justin Martin
Edition: Hardcover
126 used & new from $0.01

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick Read on Greenspan's Life -- But Not Much Economics, January 21, 2001
Martin's biography of Alan Greenspan is a quick read for anyone interested in Greenspan's fascinating life. From his early career as a jazz musician, through his days as a millionaire businessman in Ayn Rand's inner circle, through his tenure as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, through his "wilderness years", and finally up to and including his current term as chairman of the Fed, this book is peppered with interesting vignettes.
Some of these vignettes, however, detract from the focus of the book. Martin's research seems to have uncovered a multitude of stories about Greenspan's jazz colleagues, Ayn Rand, and other figures in Greenspan's life, which seemed less than necessary in telling Greenspan's story.
Readers only interested in the workings of the Federal Reserve Bank or the economics behind the decisions that Greenspan made in his life of public service are advised to find a different book. Although he does give a rough overview of what was at stake in each of the crises that Greenspan faced at the helm of the CEA and then at that of the Fed, Martin does not go into much economic detail. This omission perhaps makes the book more accessible, but the omission is disappointing, nevertheless.

Economists' Mathematical Manual
Economists' Mathematical Manual
by Knut Sydsæter
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from $4.80

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Condensed and Extremely Useful!, January 18, 2001
Sydsaeter et al. have compiled what must be the most condensed reference book in the field, given its amazingly broad scope but small number of pages. Just a few of the multitude of topics covered in this book are set theory, dynamic optimization, vector spaces, convexity, determinants, risk aversion theory, and probability distributions. The presentational format is essentially that of an extensive list, with copious notes in the margins.
The brevity of Economists' Mathematical Manual is simultaneously its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. The strength obviously lies in its diverse scope. Few books could claim to be authoritative over such a wide spectrum of subfields of economics.
Yet the lack of exposition can also be perceived as a weakness. This book is extremely useful as a reference, but first-year Ph.D. students should be warned that it should be considered supplemental only. A textbook such as Simon and Blume's Mathematics for Economists or Chiang's Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics should be the reference of first recourse for anyone encountering mathematical economics for the first time.

Linear Algebra and Its Applications (2nd Edition)
Linear Algebra and Its Applications (2nd Edition)
by David C. Lay
Edition: Hardcover
129 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Reference Tool for Economists, January 17, 2001
Lay presents here a basic textbook on linear algebra. Topics covered include matrices, determinants, vector spaces, eigenvalues & eigenvectors, and orthogonality. As a student of economics, I was happy to see that a few of the applications of linear algebra presented are related to economics and statistics (the Leontief Input-Output Model in Chapter 2, for example).
When I first encountered this book in an undergraduate matrix algebra course, I found it to be quite accessible despite my liberal arts background. More recently, since I have been a graduate student, the book has proven to be a decent reference for the basics of linear algebra, although I wish it covered projections in more detail -- particularly non-orthogonal projections.
From an economist's point of view, I would sum this book up as follows: it covers enough material to address linear algebra concepts needed in a first-year graduate microeconomics course, but not enough for a first-year graduate econometrics course.

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power
The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power
by Daniel Yergin
Edition: Paperback
273 used & new from $0.01

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive -- Yet Accessible -- History of the Oil Industry, January 11, 2001
The Prize follows the major developments in the oil industry, from its inception with the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company through the Gulf War.
The Prize well deserves the praise it has received. Yergin's research and knowledge of the history of the oil industry are obvious and make this a great historical work, yet the length and the abundance of detail do not impinge on the readability of the book.
Among many insightful sections of this book, I found the chapters on the role of oil in the Second World War to be particularly interesting. After reading other books about the battles of that war, it was useful to learn something about the logistics behind those battles.
It is unfortunate that this book is already a decade old. In his epilogue, Yergin touches on the Gulf War and the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world's largest oil producer in the late 1980's, but this was not quite history yet when he was writing The Prize.

Russia 2010: And What It Means for the World
Russia 2010: And What It Means for the World
by Daniel Yergin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.42
80 used & new from $0.01

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Russia's Future -- In Retrospect, January 30, 2000
Yergin and Gustafson present a series of three conceivable roads of reform along which Russia may travel between 1994 and 2010. The first scenario, "Muddling Down," which precedes all other roads in their model, is described as "the scenario that extends the present" (pg. 140). It is characterized by a weak central government and a lack of legal infrastructure. The three roads from this point are "Two-Headed Eagle" (the return of a strong state composed of both new and old elites), "Time of Troubles" (chaos and unprecedented decentralization inevitably leading to restrictive nationalism with overtones), and "Chudo" (the economic miracle, compared with both Germany during the 1950's and with Alice in Wonderland). Regardless of the path taken, the authors believe that the outcome will be the same: by 2010 "a capitalist Russia seems almost certain" (pg. 300).
As I write this review, Russia is now six years further along its path than it was when the authors penned their book. Naturally, the material in this book is dated. The authors could have done a better job in making this book more accessible to a future audience -- especially that of a future in which none of these scenarios seem to be taking shape as expected. I would not rule out the possibility that some of the events discussed could still come to pass, but not within the timeframe proposed. For example, in one scenario, Yeltsin steps down in 1996 due to poor health. Looking back, he remained in power for another four years after that, despite heart surgery and repeated ailments. Could that particular scenario still be valid in the future? That depends on many other factors, of course.
In their discussions on Russia's policy towards non-Russians (at home and in the Near Abroad), the authors overplayed the potential for problems with Ukrainians and underplayed the potential for problems with Chechens and other non-Russians to the south. The first Russo-Chechen conflict broke out at about the same time that this book was updated and revised. Yet even before that, one could have foreseen the potential for conflict in the Caucasus. The Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs featured an article by Samuel Huntington entitled, "The Clash of Civilizations?" Huntington's influential article proposed that armed conflicts tend to occur along fault lines between civilizations. A prime example of such a fault line is Yugoslavia, where Islamic, Western, and Slavic civilizations come together at one point. By this rationale, the Caucasus and Central Asia are also fault lines. Ukraine, however, is not a fault line. Despite Ukrainians' dislike of decades of rule by Moscow, Ukrainians and Russians have too much in common for a serious rift to occur. After all, America overcame its antipathy towards its former ruler to become England's greatest ally.
Overall, I would recommend this book with a cautionary note to the reader that the book is not as useful now as it might have been half a decade ago. That being said, the book does still hold water with respect to Russia's future and has certainly retained its value as an academic exercise in scenario-building.

Antidumping Laws and the U.S. Economy
Antidumping Laws and the U.S. Economy
by Greg Mastel
Edition: Paperback
29 used & new from $1.19

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why Free Trade Needs Fair Trade, January 13, 2000
Mastel crafts a carefully researched look at one of the most controversial issues in international trade: antidumping (AD) laws. After presenting a well-documented history of AD laws in the U.S., he invokes economic analysis to obliterate the arguments against fair trade.
I think Mastel could have added significantly to his book by a more in-depth treatment of AD laws' less publicized cousin, countervailing duty (CVD) laws. He mentions CVD laws briefly in his section on subsidies, but the purpose of this section is mainly to illustrate another possible cause of dumping. Perhaps he should write a separate book on subsidies and countervailing measures....
Also, I would have liked a more in-depth discussion of foreign AD/CVD laws. Mastel relegates his discussion of these to an appendix, which may be appropriate considering the scope of his book. Again, maybe a separate book is needed....
Mastel could have added to his book considerably if he had included more of the mathematical computations behind AD margins (perhaps in an appendix). Admittedly, though, this would have hampered the accessibility of the book to non-professionals.
Overall, his work is very accessible to any interested reader, and I recommend it especially to students and legal or research assistants embarking on a possible career in international trade.

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