- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (September 15, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393049825
- ISBN-13: 978-0393049824
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (555 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #763,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science Hardcover – September 15, 2002
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
Naked Economics is a mixed bag. First, the positives. Wheelan's style is great for this type of book. It's heavy on real-world examples, which helps frame some of the more abstract concepts in an accessible way without feeling like the book is dumbing things down. It also covers enough topics to give a fairly broad look at the world of economics. I felt like I learned a fair bit by the time I finished.
However, the book has enough negatives that I can't give a full-throated recommendation. First, it's repetitive. For example, the book contains several similar explanations of the virtues of free trade. Second (and more important in my view), the book is not well-organized. One would think that an introduction to economics would start with a brief overview of supply and demand and other topics the lay the groundwork for the rest of the book. Naked Economics takes the reader's understanding of these basic concepts for granted. I understand that this is not meant to take the place of a text book, but it feels like it starts in the middle, with a discussion of utility and incentives. These are important topics, to be sure, but it jumps around too much for my liking.
Overall, I recommend the excellent New Ideas from Dead Economists by Todd Buchholz over this. Buchholz's text will introduce you to the major concepts in economics but also the major players in the history of economic theory. For a reader who may not know much about Smith, Marx, Friedman, Ricardo, Mill, Keynes, etc., this is valuable information. It's just as approachable as Naked Economics but is clearer and more comprehensive.
I also was hoping to hear more about Japan, as in the previous version, to see if this economist could demonstrate how Japan could adapt to have a healthy economy while population diminishes. With a declining population, I hoped that Wheelan could answer a hard economic question: can we have a healthy economy without growth, with large number of retirees, or with a declining population? Or is increased production and consumption the only true marker of a healthy economy?
I did not hear those answers in this text, and did not see those questions either. A good primer, but don't expect in-depth economic theory.
Wheelan explains the benefits and limitations of markets, the benefits and limitations of government interventions, the basics of finance (especially, how to avoid the costly errors that about 50% of investors are prone to make, such as believing they can pick winners), and the role of international competition. There is nothing that Wheelan asserts that I think is not 100% correct, including his exposition of development economics and globalization. Highly recommended.
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