Hi #econtwitter: what good "general audience" books in econ / socio / political sciences would you recommend to good undergrads / PhD students that touches on economic phenomena? Some of personal favorites below (in no particular order)
Book mentions in this thread
by Robert B. ReichFrom the author of "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations," his most important book to date--a myth-shattering breakdown of how the economic system that helped make America so strong is now failing us, and what it will take to fix it. Perhaps no one is better acquainted with the intersection of economics and politics than Robert B. Reich, and now he reveals how power and influence have created a new American oligarchy, a shrinking middle class, and the greatest income inequality and wealth disparity in eighty years. He makes clear how centrally problematic our veneration of the "free market" is, and how it has masked the power of moneyed interests to tilt the market to their benefit. Reich exposes the falsehoods that have been bolstered by the corruption of our democracy by huge corporations and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street: that all workers are paid what they're "worth," that a higher minimum wage equals fewer jobs, and that corporations must serve shareholders before employees. He shows that the critical choices ahead are not about the size of government but about who government is for: that we must choose not between a free market and "big" government but between a market organized for broadly based prosperity and one designed to deliver the most gains to the top. Ever the pragmatist, ever the optimist, Reich sees hope for reversing our slide toward inequality and diminished opportunity when we shore up the countervailing power of everyone else. Passionate yet practical, sweeping yet exactingly argued, Saving Capitalism is a revelatory indictment of our economic status quo and an empowering call to civic action.
Manias, Panics, and Crashes
by Charles P. KindlebergerThe first edition of Charles Kindleberger's brilliant, panoramic history, published in 1978, summarized the pattern of market developments and the five stages in the evolution of a financial crisis. Robert Z. Aliber probes the sequence of four waves of crises that have involved more than forty countries since the early 1980s and shows that implosions of their banking systems do not follow from the decisions of 'bad actors' but instead are symptomatic of a dysfunctional international monetary arrangement. With an updated Foreword from Robert M. Solow and a new Afterword from Lord Robert Skidelsky, this seventh edition exemplifies the continued importance of Kindleberger's work and Aliber's ongoing examination of financial crises around the world.
by Adam ToozeA New York Times Notable Book of 2018. Winner of the 2019 Lionel Gelber Prize 'Majestic, informative and often delightful ... insights on every page' Yanis Varoufakis, Observer The definitive history of the Great Financial Crisis, from the acclaimed author of The Deluge and The Wages of Destruction. In September 2008 the Great Financial Crisis, triggered by the collapse of Lehman brothers, shook the world. A decade later its spectre still haunts us. As the appalling scope and scale of the crash was revealed, the financial institutions that had symbolised the West's triumph since the end of the Cold War, seemed - through greed, malice and incompetence - to be about to bring the entire system to its knees. Crashed is a brilliantly original and assured analysis of what happened and how we were rescued from something even worse - but at a price which continues to undermine democracy across Europe and the United States. Gnawing away at our institutions are the many billions of dollars which were conjured up to prevent complete collapse. Over and over again, the end of the crisis has been announced, but it continues to hound us - whether in Greece or Ukraine, whether through Brexit or Trump. Adam Tooze follows the trail like no previous writer and has written a book compelling as history, as economic analysis and as political horror story.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas PikettyThe main driver of inequality—returns on capital that exceed the rate of economic growth—is again threatening to generate extreme discontent and undermine democratic values. Thomas Piketty’s findings in this ambitious, original, rigorous work will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
A Random Walk Down Wall Street
by Burton G. MalkielAn informative, timely, and irreverent guide to financial investment offers a close-up look at the current high-tech boom, explains how to maximize gains and minimize losses, and examines a broad spectrum of financial opportunities, from mutual funds to real estate to gold, especially in light of the dot-com crash.
Against the Gods
by Peter L. BernsteinA Business Week, New York Times Business, and USA Today Bestseller "Ambitious and readable . . . an engaging introduction to the oddsmakers, whom Bernstein regards as true humanists helping to release mankind from the choke holds of superstition and fatalism." —The New York Times "An extraordinarily entertaining and informative book." —The Wall Street Journal "A lively panoramic book . . . Against the Gods sets up an ambitious premise and then delivers on it." —Business Week "Deserves to be, and surely will be, widely read." —The Economist "[A] challenging book, one that may change forever the way people think about the world." —Worth "No one else could have written a book of such central importance with so much charm and excitement." —Robert Heilbroner author, The Worldly Philosophers "With his wonderful knowledge of the history and current manifestations of risk, Peter Bernstein brings us Against the Gods. Nothing like it will come out of the financial world this year or ever. I speak carefully: no one should miss it." —John Kenneth Galbraith Professor of Economics Emeritus, Harvard University In this unique exploration of the role of risk in our society, Peter Bernstein argues that the notion of bringing risk under control is one of the central ideas that distinguishes modern times from the distant past. Against the Gods chronicles the remarkable intellectual adventure that liberated humanity from oracles and soothsayers by means of the powerful tools of risk management that are available to us today. "An extremely readable history of risk." —Barron's "Fascinating . . . this challenging volume will help you understand the uncertainties that every investor must face." —Money "A singular achievement." —Times Literary Supplement "There's a growing market for savants who can render the recondite intelligibly-witness Stephen Jay Gould (natural history), Oliver Sacks (disease), Richard Dawkins (heredity), James Gleick (physics), Paul Krugman (economics)-and Bernstein would mingle well in their company." —The Australian
Why Nations Fail
by Daron AcemogluShortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012. Why are some nations more prosperous than others? Why Nations Fail sets out to answer this question, with a compelling and elegantly argued new theory: that it is not down to climate, geography or culture, but because of institutions. Drawing on an extraordinary range of contemporary and historical examples, from ancient Rome through the Tudors to modern-day China, leading academics Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson show that to invest and prosper, people need to know that if they work hard, they can make money and actually keep it - and this means sound institutions that allow virtuous circles of innovation, expansion and peace. Based on fifteen years of research, and answering the competing arguments of authors ranging from Max Weber to Jeffrey Sachs and Jared Diamond, Acemoglu and Robinson step boldly into the territory of Francis Fukuyama and Ian Morris. They blend economics, politics, history and current affairs to provide a new, powerful and persuasive way of understanding wealth and poverty.
by Marc LevinsonIn April 1956, a refitted oil tanker carried fifty-eight shipping containers from Newark to Houston. From that modest beginning, container shipping developed into a huge industry that made the boom in global trade possible. The Box tells the dramatic story of the container's creation, the decade of struggle before it was widely adopted, and the sweeping economic consequences of the sharp fall in transportation costs that containerization brought about. But the container didn't just happen. Its adoption required huge sums of money, both from private investors and from ports that aspired to be on the leading edge of a new technology. It required years of high-stakes bargaining with two of the titans of organized labor, Harry Bridges and Teddy Gleason, as well as delicate negotiations on standards that made it possible for almost any container to travel on any truck or train or ship. Ultimately, it took McLean's success in supplying U.S. forces in Vietnam to persuade the world of the container's potential. Drawing on previously neglected sources, economist Marc Levinson shows how the container transformed economic geography, devastating traditional ports such as New York and London and fueling the growth of previously obscure ones, such as Oakland. By making shipping so cheap that industry could locate factories far from its customers, the container paved the way for Asia to become the world's workshop and brought consumers a previously unimaginable variety of low-cost products from around the globe. Published in hardcover on the fiftieth anniversary of the first container voyage, this is the first comprehensive history of the shipping container. Now with a new chapter, The Box tells the dramatic story of how the drive and imagination of an iconoclastic entrepreneur turned containerization from an impractical idea into a phenomenon that transformed economic geography, slashed transportation costs, and made the boom in global trade possible.
by Mark KurlanskyHomer called it a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. As Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates here, salt has shaped civilisation from the beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind. Wars have been fought over salt and, while salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia, they have also inspired revolution - Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India. From the rural Sichuan province where the last home-made soya sauce is produced to the Cheshire brine springs that supplied salt around the globe, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of world history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends political, commercial, scientific, religious and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.
by Branko MilanovicFor the first time in history, the globe is dominated by one economic system. Capitalism prevails because it delivers prosperity and meets desires for autonomy. But it also is unstable and morally defective. Surveying the varieties and futures of capitalism, Branko Milanovic offers creative solutions to improve a system that isn’t going anywhere.
Good Economics for Hard Times
by Abhijit V. BanerjeeTwo prize-winning economists show how economics, when done right, can help us solve the thorniest social and political problems of our day The experience of the last decade has not been kind to the image of economists: asleep at the wheel (perhaps with the foot on the gas pedal) in the run-up to the great recession, squabbling about how to get out of it, tone-deaf in discussions of the plight of Greece or the Euro area; they seem to have lost the ability to provide reliable guidance on the great problems of the day. In this ambitious, provocative book Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo show how traditional western-centric thinking has failed to explain what is happening to people in a newly globalized world: in short Good Economics has been done badly. This precise but accessible book covers many of the most essential issues of our day--including migration, unemployment, growth, free trade, political polarization, and welfare. Banerjee and Duflo will confound and clarify the presumptions of our times, such as: Why migration doesn't follow the law of supply and demand Why trade liberalization can drive unemployment up and wages down Why macroeconomists like to bend the data to fit the model Why nobody can really explain why and when growth happens Why economists' assumption that people don't change their minds has made has made polarization worse Why quite often it doesn't take a village, especially if the villagers aren't that nice In doing so, they seek to reclaim this essential terrain, and to offer readers an economist's view of the great issues of the day--one that is candid about the complexities, the zones of ignorance, and the areas of genuine disagreement.