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Lessons for the Young Economist Hardcover – October 25, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
1) This is mostly the Austrian Economic theory. Understanding the material in this book WILL help you VASTLY when going through any sort of high school or college economics course, but much of this isn't taught in the Keynesian-dominated classrooms.
2) This book IS written for the younger audience -- hence the title (I only say this because there is another review of this book that... well, he apparently didn't even read the title).
3) Much of this book (if not all) CAN be found online at mises.org. I recommend buying the book - it's easier, more mobile, hurts your eyes less, and is at a fantastic price.
4) This book IS understandable to anyone who doesn't understand hardly anything about economics - this is a fantastic introduction.
5) Murphy did a great job. I only saw one typo throughout the whole 400 page book, it's humorous, and it's understandable.
6) If you already have a sound understanding of the Austrian Economic theory ("only individuals act", "comparative advantage", "trade necessarily means both parties benefit", "boom bust cycle"), then it might not be the best investment FOR YOURSELF. But, heck, at $25, you can use it easily to help people who have questions.
Buy it, you won't regret it. It delivers everything it promises. This book + "Economics in One Lesson" would make the perfect gift for anyone looking to understand Austrian economics, but has yet to indulge.
He outlines a coherent approach to economic thinking in four major parts covering:
1) Foundations (4 chapters),
2) Capitalism: The Market Economy (10 chapters),
3) Socialism: The Command Economy (2 chapters), and
4) Interventionism: The Mixed Economy (7 chapters).
Murphy includes a wonderful glossary (26 pages) that every student should use to check that he understands the simple fundamental vocabulary of economics.
The first part of the book builds carefully, starting with the difference in approach between economic science and physical science, and a description of how economic science develops. He emphasizes that economic concepts are implied by subjective individual preferences and their resulting acts. He shows how individual preferences lose meaning when combined across a multiple people. Starting with a simple "Robinson Crusoe" economy he develops many basic concepts including: goods, consumer goods, producer goods, land, labor, capital goods, income, savings, investment even before exchange is introduced.
In part 2 he introduces private property / capitalism, direct exchange, indirect exchange, money, specialization, entrepreneurship, competition, and brings savings and investment into a market economy. He defines the concepts of supply and demand, interest, credit, and debt and discusses their utility. He provides some introductory descriptions of profit and loss accounting and the stock market.
Two chapters in part 3 are devoted to that perennial pipe dream of the long-term adolescents. That socialism still needs to be discussed in the 21st century is truly evidence that economics has failed in its educational mission. In any event the first chapter mentions the theoretical reasons why socialism will not work and the 2nd chapter covers the bloody historical events caused by maniacs and tyrants that claimed socialism could work and the theory was incorrect.
The final part of this basic text covers a number of examples of the inefficiencies and downright errors that crop up often in a mixed economy. He has chapters on each of: price controls, sales and income taxes, tariffs and quotas, drug prohibition, inflation, government debt, and the business cycle.
This book is a great introduction to economic thinking. We would all be a lot better off if every citizen would absorb these simple fundamental economic concepts prior to stepping into the voting booth.