- Hardcover: 1200 pages
- Publisher: Worth Publishers; 2 edition (February 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0716771586
- ISBN-13: 978-0716771586
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.5 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Economics 2nd Edition
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About the Author
PAUL KRUGMAN is Professor of Economics at Princeton University, USA, where he regularly teaches the principles course. Prior to his current position he taught at Yale, Stanford and MIT. ROBIN WELLS is Researcher in Economics at Princeton University, USA, where she teaches undergraduate courses. She has previously taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Southampton, Stanford and MIT. Her teaching and research focus on the theory of organizations and incentives. She writes regularly for academic journals.
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Despite Paul Krugman's reputation as a "leftist" the introductory pages of this text present economics in the favorable light of the classical "invisible hand" market model of economics which Krugman praises enthusiastically in his opening volley . Krugman drags the "command economy" model of economics over the coals with highly critical references to the Soviet command economy that preceded the mixed economy that seems now to prevail in Russia.
The edition that I am reading appears to have been written too early to take the Great Recession fully into account so as a result its appraisal of the state of the American economy seems to be overly optimistic. In these early pages some lip service is paid to the role of externalities and to the toxic effect of greed, but these topics are unfortunately minimalized in the introductory pages of this text.
As to the specific deficiencies of command economies that are cited by Paul Krugman it appears to me that many of the problems that Paul Krugman cites may be ameliorated by the application of current and future higher speed computers and by the generation of new economic models that may be made possible and practical by this new technology.
Anyway, I think that Paul Krugman has resorted to stereotypes in his critique of the Soviet command economy, and I further think that many of the problems of that economy were caused more by the political organization of the former Soviet Union than by any intrinsic fault of the command model of economic regulation and the command model allocation of the resources of society.
For those worried about Krugman and whether he has just layered this book full of leftist propaganda, consider this opening paragraph from Chapter 5:
"New York City is a place where you can find almost anything - that is, almost anything, except a taxicab when you need one or a decent apartment at a rent you can afford. You might think that New York's notorious shortages of cabs and apartments are the inevitable price of big-city living. However, they are largely the product of government policies - specifically, of government policies that have, one way or another, tried to prevail over the market forces of supply and demand."
I'll be honest, as a avid reader of Krugman in the NYT, I'd never expected to read such a paragraph in this book. Krugman saying that sometimes the government is the problem? Krugman goes on to explain exactly what policies are to blame for the housing shortage and taxi cab shortage in New York.
The rest of the textbook is full of similar balance. He constantly keeps surprising me and making me think about things that I've never noticed before, such as the housing problem in New York. Who knew such a problem has a simple explanation? (The explanation they give is that the housing shortage is caused by rent control, "a law that prevents landlords from raising rents except when specifically given permission.")
He and Robin really deliver a fair and balanced discussion of economics from Adam Smith up to present day. The book is full of little tidbits of information that Krugman and Wells call "Economics in Action" and "For Inquiring Minds" that usually contain little stories he's simply pulled from his daily reading of the New York Times and other newspapers. He comments on them from an professional economist's point of view and relates them to the current discussion in whatever chapter they appear.
For example, in Chapter 3 under "Economics in Action," Robin writes (as far as I know, Krugman wrote the macro chapters, and Robin wrote the micro):
"Thousands in Mexico City protest rising food prices." So read the headline in the New York Times on February 1, 2007. Specifically, the demonstrators were protesting a sharp rise in the price of tortillas, a staple food of Mexico's poor, which had a gone from 25 cents a pound to between 35 and 45 cents a pound in just a few months.
Why were tortilla prices soaring? It was a classic example of what happens to equilibrium prices when supply falls. Tortillas are made from corn; much of Mexico's corn is imported from the United States, with the price of corn in both countries basically set in the U.S. corn market. And U.S. corn prices were rising rapidly thanks to the surging demand in a new market: the market for ethanol."
It's an interesting little factoid about a real life situation and he (or she) relates it to the subject of the chapter, which was Supply and Demand in that case. The book is littered with different examples on all sorts of topics in every chapter. And notice, once again Krugman could have gone off in a rant against the North American Free Trade agreement, and how the U.S. Government's subsidies to farming was also partly responsible for running Mexico's corn producers out of business by flooding the global market with cheap corn (or something to that effect), but he never does. He keeps it professional and on topic, and it really provides a great learning experience. This is one of those textbooks that is so good a teacher isn't needed to assist in learning process.
So needless to say I'm quite impressed. The few problems in the Second Edition I received from Amazon include various printing mistakes - such as on a few pages there is text printed on top of a graph that shouldn't be there. Not sure if that is just a one time printing error or something that is in all 2nd editions. But it's not enough to recommend staying away from this book. So if you are looking to learn more about economics, and even if you are just a layman and know nothing about economics, you can't go wrong with this book. I guarantee if you have even the slightest interest in this subject then you'll find this a delightful read.
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