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Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School [Paperback]

Gene Callahan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jun 2004

The second edition of the fun and fascinating guide to the main ideas of the Austrian School of economics, written in sparkling prose especially for the non-economist. Gene Callahan shows that good economics isn't about government planning or statistical models. It's about human beings and the choices they make in the real world. This may be the most important book of its kind since Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. Though written for the beginner, it has been justly praised by scholars too, including Israel Kirzner, Walter Block, and Peter Boettke.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Ludwig Von Mises Inst; 2nd edition (Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945466412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945466413
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,235,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of Austrian Economics 12 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want a good overview of Austrian economics then this is the book. It explains all the basic concepts in an easy to understand format. My reason for not giving five stars is the use of confusing analogies, fried and boiled rats as a form of exchange sort of put me off from the main thrust of Callaghan's arguement. I've got no problem with using analogies, it's been part of storytelling for eons but sometimes I felt they got more complicated than if he had stuck to just explaining the economics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rare common sense 21 Aug 2011
A very good description of the basis of Austrian Economics. The author uses various analogies which seem just basic common sense when you're presented with them, yet he explains that some of the concepts are not accepted or understood by classical economists.
He also includes a very brief history of the Austrian School.
Very enlightening.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Great Book! Made Me Hungy For More! 20 Feb 2009
By Joao Cortez - Published on
Wow! This was definitely the best book on Economics I have ever read! It was so addictive that I could not stop reading it. It's well written, very accessible, easy to read, entertaining and extremely stimulating as the ideas presented go against conventional wisdom. The ideas are not only logical but they are grounded on real life episodes. It presents Economy as a human social system, centered around the individual free choice. It stresses the importance of looking beyond what is seen to look at what is not seen, which is just important. Today, with the current crisis, more than ever this book is fundamental in order to understand how the world came to this point, and where it's moving towards to. A few key points:
- Real economic growth can only be achieved through Production and Savings and not through Consumption and Debt
- The only real money is attached to a real collateral, such as gold as opposed to the current paper money that the central banks are happy to print out of air
- Central banks should not have the power to "print money" or fix interest rates
- Government intervention should be minimal - subsidies, protectionism, price fixing, regulation, public spending are to be avoided
- Free Markets with the Law of Supply and Demand will tend to maximize the value and wealth of both the individual and society
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good introduction to Austrian economics 13 April 2010
By Frank Reibold - Published on
This book provides an introduction to Austrian economics which is sometimes funny to read.

The first parts lay the philosophical (logical) foundations of Austrian economics and build up a picture of the market economy. This is done by looking at a person living alone on an isolated island (like Robinson Crusoe). Later more people, goods, and money are introduced. In my opinion, this is one of the best explanations of Ricardo's "Law of Comparative Advantage" and the history of money.

According to Austrian economics, the market process does never establish a general equilibrium. Sure, there will sometimes be equilibria in distinct markets, but these cannot last for long. The price informs entrepreneurs of new profitable undertakings, thus destroying the equilibrium. New data will have the same effect. The price will cause entrepreneurs to gradually adjust to their customers' wishes. There is thus no need for a general equilibrium (nor does is actually exist) as in conventional economics for the market process to be beneficial. Unlimited information, perfect competition, and instantaneous action aren't necessary either. The market process consists of learning, discovering opportunities, and adapting to new information. Austrian microeconomics is much more realistic than neoclassical models. (You might guess from this that there are no figures of demand and supply curves within this book. Your guess is correct.)

Later parts introduce the government and show its role in manipulating prices and money, regulations, minimum wages, etc. Callahan's explanation of inflation and deflation is much better than in conventional economics textbooks. The market process will destroy monopolies, because their profits attract new competitors. Only monopolies privileged by the government will survive. Therefore, Austrian economics rejects antitrust laws.

The "Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle" states that recessions are caused by central banks via manipulation of interest rates. Artificially low interest rates cause entrepreneurs to think that there are a lot of savings which they can use for investments. Later on, the central bank detects an "overheating economy" and raises the interest rates, thereby initiating a recession during which unemployment is likely to occur. According to Austrian economics, all agents (consumers, capitalists, workers, and entrepreneurs) have a time preference which causes aggregate savings and investment to equal in the loan market. The resulting price for time is the interest rate. If the central bank alters the interest rate, the capital structure of the economy (consumption today versus future consumption via investment) is distorted and does not correspond to consumers' wishes any longer. The subsequent recession merely restores the normal structure of capital. Thus the problem is the artificial boom and not the inevitable bust following it. Callahan considers critics of the "Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle" and refuses them by pointing to their fallacies. In my opinion, the "Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle" seems to be correct. It is much better than the conventional theories we discussed at university.

I recommend this book to all readers interested in economics. It is especially illuminating for students of economics.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction to Austrian economics 23 Sep 2009
By somebloggerdude - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author writes in any engaging style and uses many of the same instructional models used in the "canon" of Austrian economics. The style is so snappy that it is easy to forget Mr. Callahan is covering a tremendous amount of tremendously important ideas. This is the first book I recommend to anyone who wants a quick and easy introduction to the Austrian school in particular, or economics in general.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! 12 Jan 2009
By Mike Mark - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading at the high-school junior-senior level. This will teach you what money is, what your personal role in the economy can be, what the government's role should be and how to consider the current events happening in the world. Open your eyes to a whole new world!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done! 13 May 2009
By Paul Bauer - Published on
I heard about Callahan's book on "Free Markets With Dr. Mike Beitler," a libertarian internet-radio show. I really enjoyed the book. It is easy to read and very insightful.

Read this along with Beitler's Rational Individualism: A Moral Argument for Limited Government & Capitalism. These books go together well.
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