- Some of the reviewers of this book on Amazon point out (or, at least, allege) that this book is an apologia for free-market, capitalist economics, and not economics per se.
- It seems obvious that there’s something wrong with a system that can end up with millions unemployed when there’s so much to do. But state-run economic systems seem to end up with everyone disenchanted and “working the system”. My question is how do you get the bins and bed-pans emptied unless some people are forced into taking these essential but distasteful jobs by the need to find work or collapse into poverty?
- The above question will come into focus in another book on my list – "Susskind (Daniel) - A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond".
- Maybe, however, I need a book on the philosophy of economics; from a quick look, many exist, but I want one that deals with the really deep questions, not just with the problems and muddles facing economists. I’ve taken a stab with "Reiss (Julian) - Philosophy of Economics: A Contemporary Introduction".
Amazon Book Description
- In this fifth edition of Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell revises and updates his popular book on common sense economics, bringing the world into clearer focus through a basic understanding of the fundamental economic principles and how they explain our lives.
- Drawing on lively examples from around the world and from centuries of history, Sowell explains basic economic principles for the general public in plain English.
- Basic Economics, which has now been translated into six languages and has additional material online, remains true to its core principle: that the fundamental facts and principles of economics do not require jargon, graphs, or equations, and can be learned in a relaxed and even enjoyable way.
Inside Cover Blurb
- In addition to an updating and revision of the chapters from previous editions, the fifth edition of Basic Economics includes a new chapter – the longest chapter in the book – on the reasons for large differences of income and wealth between nations. It also examines some popular explanations of these differences that will not stand up under scrutiny. This chapter on international economic differences and the chapter on the history of economics itself are unlikely to be found in most books on introductory economics. Both chapters give the beginning student a larger context for understanding the role of economics.
- At the heart of Basic Economics is what has always been there in previous editions — a presentation of economics in plain, straightforward language, without the jargon, graphs, or equations that dominate too much of most other economic writings. This book is aimed at people with no previous study of the subject, namely the general public and beginning students in economics. Basic Economics illustrates economic principles with vivid examples from countries around the world, to make those principles memorable in a way that technical jargon or mathematical presentations may not. Readers’ responses to successive editions of Basic Economics have vindicated this approach. So have the translations of Basic Economics into seven foreign languages overseas. Whether you are reading it in plain English or in any of its translations, the idea behind this book is to make economics as readable and enjoyable as it is eye-opening.
- Thomas Sowell has taught economics at UCLA, Cornell, and Amherst, among other academic institutions. His writings have appeared in both scholarly journals and in publications aimed at the general public, such as Forbes and Fortune magazines and newspapers across the country, including the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily. Dr. Sowell is a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.v
Back Cover Plaudits
- “Clear and concise... Among economists of the past thirty years, Thomas Sowell stands very proud indeed.”
→ Wall Street Journal
- “Basic Economics is not only valuable for a general lay-person audience; it would also benefit lawyers, politicians, and yes, economists as well.”
→ Washington Times
- “Basic Economics is a healthy main course disguised as a rich dessert...Thomas Sowell’s smooth writing, irresistible logic, deep knowledge, and flawless economics make each page an explanatory treat to experts and novices alike.”
→ Thomas Hazlett, Professor of Law & Economics and Director, Information Economy Project, George Mason University
- “Badly needed... Anyone who has been subjected to biased and dreary economics textbooks should read Basic Economics as a bracing corrective.”
→ Claremont Review of Books
- “Basic Economics reveals in every chapter why Thomas Sowell is one of America’s greatest thinkers. It is must-reading for anyone who wants the truth about how the laws of economics govern so many of the events in our daily lives.”
→ Arthur C. Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute and author of The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future
- “Basic Economics demonstrates Thomas Sowell’s ability to make economics understandable to a person who hasn’t set foot in an economics class. It’s a book rich with explanations and examples of everyday economics issues.”
→ Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor Economics, George Mason University
- “The unyielding truths of economics befuddle social engineers of all stripes. Thomas Sowell, in exemplary fashion, strips the mystery from those truths, making them intuitive—even obvious.”
→ David Boaz, Executive Vice President, Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer
- The most obvious difference between this book, and other introductory economics books is that Basic Economics has no graphs or equations. It is also written in plain English, rather than in economic jargon, so that it can be readily understood by people with no previous knowledge of economics. This includes both the general public and beginning students in economics. A less obvious, but important, feature of Basic Economics is that it uses real-life examples from countries around the world to make economic principles vivid and memorable, in a way that graphs and equations might not. Through its various editions, the fundamental idea behind Basic Economics has remained the same: Learning economics should be as uncomplicated as it is eye-opening.
- Readers’ continuing interest in these new editions at home, and a growing number of translations into foreign languages1 overseas, suggest that there is a widespread desire for this kind of introduction to economics, when it is presented in a readable way.
- Just as people do, this book has put on weight with the passing years, as new chapters have been added and existing chapters updated and expanded to stay abreast of changing developments in economies around the world.
- Readers who have been puzzled by the large disparities in economic development, and standards of living, among the nations of the world will find a new chapter — Chapter 23, the longest chapter in the book — devoted to exploring geographic, demographic, cultural and other reasons why such striking disparities have existed for so long. It also examines factors which are said to have been major causes of international economic disparities and finds that the facts do not always support such claims.
- Most of us are necessarily ignorant of many complex fields, from botany to brain surgery. As a result, we simply do not attempt to operate in, or comment on, those fields. However, every voter and every politician that they vote for affects economic policies. We cannot opt out of economic issues and decisions. Our only options are to be informed, uninformed, or misinformed, when making our choices on issues and candidates. Basic Economics is intended to make it easier to be informed. The fundamental principles of economics are not hard to understand, but they are easy to forget, especially amid the heady rhetoric of politics and the media.
- In keeping with the nature of Basic Economics as an introduction to economics, not only have jargon, graphs and equations been left out, so have the usual endnotes. However, those who wish to check up on some of the surprising facts they will learn here can find the sources listed on my website (Thomas Sowell: Home Page) or on a website established by the publisher2. For instructors who are using Basic Economics as a textbook in their courses, or for parents who are home schooling their children, more than a hundred questions are available in the back of the book, with pages listed after each question, showing where the answer to that question can be found in the text.
→ Thomas Sowell, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Preface – vii
Acknowledgments – ix
- What Is Economics? – 1
- PART I: PRICES AND MARKETS – 9
- The Role of Prices – 11
- Price Controls – 37
- An Overview of Prices – 64
- PART II: INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE – 87
- The Rise and Fall of Businesses – 89
- The Role of Profits — and Losses – 109
- The Economics of Big Business – 139
- Regulation and Anti-Trust Laws – 154
- Market and Non-Market Economies – 177
- PART III: WORK AND PAY – 191
- Productivity and Pay – 193
- Minimum Wage Laws – 220
- Special Problems in Labor Markets – 234
- PART IV: TIME AND RISK – 267
- Investment – 269
- Stocks, Bonds and Insurance – 302
- Special Problems of Time and Risk – 328
- PART V: THE NATIONAL ECONOMY – 343
- National Output – 343
- Money and the Banking System – 363
- Government Functions – 392
- Government Finance – 423
- Special Problems in the National Economy – 454
- PART VI: THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY – 473
- International Trade – 475
- International Transfers of Wealth – 501
- International Disparities in Wealth – 527
- PART VII: SPECIAL ECONOMIC ISSUES – 567
Questions – 635
- Myths About Markets – 569
- “Non-Economic” Values – 584
- The History of Economics – 597
- Parting Thoughts – 626
Index – 655
In-Page Footnotes ("Sowell (Thomas) - Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy")
- Previous editions have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Swedish, Korean, and Polish.
- The URL was given, but it was defective.
- I’ve downloaded these, in case they disappear.
- Basic Books; 5th edition (2 Dec. 2014)
- Birthday present from family
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)