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Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science
on April 17, 2004
Popular economics writing does not get any better than this. In a dozen somewhat independent chapters, journalist Wheelan presents "Economics 101" in a readable, objective, and delightful manner. Employing basic concepts and assumptions, such as choices, incentives, tradeoffs, prices, costs, and the economics of information, Wheelan cuts a large swath though contemporary microeconomic and macroeconomic issues, controversies, and fallacies. (He sneaks in more sophisticated theoretical points and jargon, e.g., externalities and the prisoner's dilemma, but in interesting, informative ways.) Topics include environmental problems, health care and insurance, risk and safety, education and productivity, the Federal Reserve System and monetary policy, financial markets and capital, inflation and unemployment, international trade and globalization, income and wealth inequalities, and economic development. Using anecdotes and applications galore, Wheelan treats both the power of markets and the role of government in a market economy (including special interest groups and the politics of economics). Devoid of graphs and mathematical equations (but not documentation), this book is quite simply a terrific, much-needed addition to the economics literature for intelligent general readers and must-reading for the media, government officials at all levels, and those who cast ballots and attempt to influence public policy. Highly recommended for general readers, lower- and upper-division undergraduates, and professionals.