30-Second Economics


30-Second Economics
The 50 most thought-provoking economic theories, each explained
in half a minute
Edited by Donald Marron
Icon Books – £14.99

In the Introduction of this rather readable, entertaining book on the theory of economics (an entertaining book on economics – who’d have thought it?), editor Donald Marron writes: ”Economists […] study how fundamental social forces explain everything from the price of bread to the wealth disparity between the United States and Zimbabwe.”

I too could explain ”the wealth disparity between the United States and Zimbabwe,” although it would be utterly different to that of where Mr. Marron is coming from.

Words to the effect that there is still some validity of checks and balances (perhaps) taking place throughout the U.S., for checks and oodles of balances are one of the fundamental foundations upon which the country was built. Yet so long as that vile/puerile excuse of a human being, Robert Mugabe continues to hold office in Zimbabwe, a huge disparity of morality will continue to reign supreme. Let lone a huge disparity of wealth.

As such, Marron readily contests that ”economics is thus still a work in progress; and it may end up resembling biology more than it does physics. But economics isn’t just science. Many economists, myself included, believe that our insights into how the world works have implications for how the world should work in general. As a result, the scientific theories of economics blur into political theories of the good society.”

I have to confess to liking the use of the word ‘blur’ in the final sentence, as it subliminally injects a sense so haziness into the proceedings. A haziness which is open to both interpretation and contradiction.

That said: ”Many of the top fifty theories in economics can indeed be traced to economists who are defunct, at least in the biological sense (including Keynes himself). But the theories themselves remain vibrant. As Keynes warns, however, important theories are not always right. So mixed among the most important theories you will find a few that are almost certainly wrong, despite their influence.”

In a succinct and altogether inviting manner, these 154 pages (not including Resources, Index and Acknowledgements) traverse all there is to know about economics in bite-size chunks; which, to all intents and purposes, can surely, only be a good thing?

As well as meeting some of the founding fathers of modern economics like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Alfred Marshall and Milton Friedman; the handsomely put together 30-Second Economics – The 50 most thought provoking economic theories, each explained in half a minute also traverses the various schools of economic thought (such as Keynesian and the Austrian School), along with varying Economic Systems and Cycles, Global Trade, Neoclassical Synthesis and naturally, the Expected Utility Theory – which herein, falls under the heading of Choice(!).

In fact, everything from Monetarism to Marxism to Mercantilism is touched upon in this colourful and overtly compact book. An Icon publication that will undoubtedly serve as the perfect introduction or ultimate crash course in economic theory.

David Marx


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