As the summer has arrived and I finally have working internet in my new place, I figured it was a good time to put together my summer reading list. These are the books I hope to finish this summer. While extensive, I should be able to tackle it.
Extra Reads- these are all economics books that only nerds like me would read over a summer.
15 total should not be too much, but a few of them are quite daunting (Human Action). Hope some other choose one or two of these books to get a discussion going.
Posted in Books, Economics
Tagged Atlas Shrugged, Austrian school, books, current-events, Economics, Graduate School, Israel Kirzner, Ludwig von Mises, politics, price theory and applications, Reading, Reading List, Steven Landsburg, Study, Summer, sylvia nasar, Walter Block
I don’t know if I’ve posted this before, and I’m sorry if I have. But I think it’s worth reading again.
Reading through Thomas Sowell’s “Some Thoughts on Writing” (again), I came across a gem in his section on editing.
Too many academics write as if plain English is beneath their dignity and some seem to regard logic as an unconstitutional infringement of their freedom of speech.
If I ever become an academic, this is one quote I hope will always be fresh in my mind. Thanks, Dr. Sowell
People I talk economics with often dismiss the Austrian business cycle theory out of hand, since the business cycle existed before the Federal Reserve was created. Without the central bank, so the rebuttal goes, interest rates are not held artificially low. Therefore, Austrian business cycle theory would not predict booms and busts without a central bank.
However, in Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle, the most important work regarding business cycle theory from the Austrians, Nobel laureate Hayek says plainly that a central bank is not needed for booms and busts. He even states that Austrians should not emphasize the central bank in argument (hint, hint Austrians). I found the quote on page 77 of the Mises Institute‘s printing of Prices and Production and Other Works on Money, the Business Cycle, and the Gold Standard. (I would shorten the title…)
“By disregarding those divergencies between the natural and money rate of interest that arise automatically in the course of economic development, and by emphasizing those caused by an artificial lowering of the money rate, the monetary theory of the trade cycle deprives itself of one of its strongest arguments; namely, the fact that the process is describes must always recur under the existing credit organization, and that it thus represents a tendency inherent in the economic system, and is in the fullest sense of the word an endogenous theory.”
One might be excused for not reading Mises’ Theory of Money and Credit or Rothbard’s Case Against the Fed, but Hayek cannot be overlooked by any (even mainstream) economist. While the Austrians might not have everything right, shouldn’t a Nobel prize winner get some respect?
From page 572 of Mises’s Human Action Third Revised Edition published in 1963:
There is no means of avoiding the final collapse brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.
It’s hard to not think of the early 2000′s as the “sooner” and 2008 as the “later”.
I recently finished
of the 2011 edition of The Austrian School of Economics by Eugen-Maria
Schulak and Herbert Unterköfler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
reading another history of the Austrian school. History of economic thought is slowly turning into my favorite area of economics- monetary policy is still #1. For me, history of economic thought combines two fascinating disciplines (I’ll let you guess which two).
The Austrian School of Economics: A History of Its Ideas, Ambassadors, and Institutions by Eugen Maria Schulak and Herbert Unterkofler is an enjoyable read that is never enthralling. It captures the essence of the Austrian school, but gets bogged down in details. I did not want it for research purposes, so I do not need a short explanation of all of Menger‘s important students, beyond Bohm-Bawerk. Also, since it is translated from German, all titles to books, articles, and organizations are in German and then translated. It is small, but bothered me.
Carl Menger Deutsch: Carl Menger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the positive side, it covers the basic outline of the school which every economist should know. Who were the major players? Menger, Bohm-Bawerk, Hayek, Mises, Schumpter, and a few more. What are the major ideas? Subjective marginal utility, praxeology, and business cycle theory are all cover. It is clear and concise here.
If your looking for an intro to ideas Austrian economics and its history, I’d recommend The Great Austrian Economists by Randall G. Holcombe.
This book may seem overdone or cheesey, but I can’t speak highly enough about it. I first listened to the audiobook for a class project. Peter Robinson‘s (also a favorite of mine from Uncommon Knowledge) conversational style and insight into so many topics required that I read the whole book. After driving to a library 40 minutes away I had the book. Finished in no time, the book is everything a young man like myself could want in a book. The history of the Reagan years is brief but insightful. It reflects on Reagan’s life. A man at the end of his life, Reagan has so much to teach young men. It reflects on Peter Robinson’s life, then in his 40′s and just starting a family. He talks about the issues he had as a 20 something finding his way in the world while being in the Reagan White House. For an almost college grad, his concerns are my concerns and he taught me a lot. I loved the book so much I already bought a new version of the book. This is almost unheard of for me since I am cheap and prefer used. However, I know I will keep looking back to this book for guidance, history and entertainment for years to come. Truly a near perfect book for this point in my life
Is a book that is over 50 years old worth reviewing? Yes. Because it is timeless and if this review provokes one person to read it, I will have done something good.
Whittaker Chambers was called to be a witness, both for something and against something. Early in his life, he was called to be a witness against the modern world and for communism. Here is a man who was desperate to fix the problems of the modern age. For a while in Chambers’ life, Marxism/Leninism/Communism was his answer and he devoted his life to the communist party. Luckily, there was a major change in the middle of his life. After years of working in the open party and then the underground espionage part of the party, Chambers left and found Christ. At that point, he became a witness against communism and for God.
In Witness, a beautifully written autobiographical narrative, Chambers recounts his life up until shortly after the Hiss case, that was to bring him fame. Here is a man whose life was completely devoted to a cause and in middle age abandoned it. It takes humility and strength to do that Readers follow the danger and struggle necessary for Chambers to depart from the party. Luckily for the reader, Chambers is a top-notch writer who worked for years as a senior editor
editor at Time, and then a contributor writer and shortly editor for National Review (I’d take either spot).
This is not just a book about the perils of communism. It’s about the tragedy of life and the beauty of God. It delves into the wonder of nature and the power one can develop from a good woman. At times the details of the Hiss case are too exhaustive. But this is a huge part of the era which is rarely discussed in classrooms. I’ve never felt so much emotion in a writing and this is non-fiction. Quite a stretch from the typical economics books I read, I’d recommend it to anyone interested in 20th century American history, the perils of communism, and faith. 5 of 5 stars.
Note- a correction has been made regarding Chambers’ roles at Time and NR.
Posted in Books
Tagged Alger Hiss, Book Review, books, Communism, Conservative, Leninism, literature, Marxism, Richard Nixon, Whittaker Chambers, Witness
Sporadic, anti-intellectual and reads like the writings of someone I know from the center of America, which is all to say that I loved it. The great playwright David Mamet, whose work on acting and writing is also enjoyable, unleashes attack after attack on the Liberal intelligentsia, entertainment industry and establishment. He’s been in the world of the left for years and is a wonderful example of what happens when people start to read the great writers; they challenge what they thought the knew.
Drawing on all the authors I love (Sowell, Friedman, Hayek) Mamet points out the Left’s flaws. What makes this book unique and worthwhile is the examination of entertainment and writing. This is where his expertise comes into play and makes him more than just another person ranting about the left (such as me). Answering questions about why all of Hollywood is liberal, Mamet demonstrates the idiocy of it all. Also, Mamet’s understanding of history and literature is entertaining and insightful.
At times it reads like a conversation with a good friend since it jumps from topic to topic. This can be hard, but overall works. Here is a guy who doesn’t pull any punches and is willing to challenge the sacred cows. He’s an interesting character and I enjoyed learning more about his life. 4 of 5 stars.