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Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction (Pelican Books) [Kindle Edition]

Ha-Joon Chang
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What is economics?

What can - and can't - it explain about the world?

Why does it matter?

Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at Cambridge University, and writes a column for the Guardian. The Observer called his book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, which was a no.1 bestseller, 'a witty and timely debunking of some of the biggest myths surrounding the global economy.' He won the Wassily Leontief Prize for advancing the frontiers of economic thought, and is a vocal critic of the failures of our current economic system.

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Page turning... A fascinating, hurtling explanation of everything... You could use it as a primer, a reference book, a brief history; it is all these things... It reflects the urgent generosity of a thinker whose depth of understanding is matched by a desire to see us all understand... Ha-Joon Chang's wealth is in his knowledge, perceptiveness, insight and vision. And he can't give it away fast enough. It flies off him like the seeds of a dandelion (Zoe Williams The Guardian)

Brilliant... Chang's lightness of touch makes often dry subject matter very readable... The first section is a page-turning history, the second a call to arms about how to apply economics in the real world using simple, everyday examples (Financial Times)

About the Author

Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at Cambridge University. His book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism was a no.1 bestseller and was called by the Observer 'a witty and timely debunking of some of the biggest myths surrounding the global economy.' He is a popular columnist at the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1800 KB
  • Print Length: 475 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican (1 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,645 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The lunatics are in control 14 July 2014
By therealus TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
For me it was the crash of ’86. For others it will be the Great Recession. Whenever economic calamity strikes we reach for a textbook to gain an understanding of what just happened, why, and what can be done about it. Three decades down from the awakening of my own curiosity I find there are more questions than answers, and they’re multiplying all the time. One of the virtues of Ha-Joon Chang’s introduction to Economics is that, unlike many of the books and courses I’ve devoured over the years, it makes clear that there is no silver bullet. Some of the people claiming to have the answers are as clueless as the rest of us, and that applies in spades for the uncritical cheerleaders of the neo-liberal consensus who laid the foundations for the current debacle, a process some have traced to 1979 and the election of Thatcher and, in short order, the 1980 election of Reagan.

In fact, one of Chang’s bugbears is the laughable concept of the “trickle-down” effect, made “popular” in the Reagan era, where we put even more money in the hands of the rich in the vain hope that they’ll invest it in something that will eventually provide the rest of us with a job and prosperity. Ha! How’s that one working out for ya? Well, looks like most of the people with the money are still investing in the kinds of complex derivatives that got us here in the first place, not in the capital equipment and R&D that would actually be useful.

Much of the content of the book deals with fairly basic economic concepts, clearly positioning it as a primer, but for those wishing to know more the Further Reading sections at the end of each chapter are excellent, referencing some of the books I had in mind when reading.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too Important To Be Left To Economists 7 May 2014
By S Wood
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ha-joon Changs "Economics: The User's Guide" is the first title in the newly resurrected Pelican imprint. Chang himself is best described as a heterodox economist, firmly outside the mainstream where neoclassical economics (not to mention neoliberalism) is the reigning creed. But given the multiple failings of orthodox economics the heterodox Chang with his cheerful style, wide learning and a clear and concise authorial voice make him the ideal candidate for writing an introductory book on economics. He doesn't dissapoint.

The book itself is divided into twelve chapters exploring a range of economic issues including asking what exactly economics is, exploring the role of the state, inequality and poverty, work and unemployment, finance and production. Sixty odd pages are devoted a brief history of capitalism, giving the reader a pretty good understanding of two and a half centuries of capitalisms global progress.

It's a brilliant introduction for those who have encountered the economy watching the news, through history or political books, and want to find out what this vitaly important aspect of our lives is about. The further reading guides at the end of each chapter are a valuable resource for those whose interests have been aroused. More seasoned students of economics should find the scope of the book (both intellectually and geographically), and it's easy and succinct style ample reward for the effort spent reading. One quibble I have: important terms (privitisation, capital controls, etc) are printed in bold at the point in the text where they are explained, but the index of the defined terms that ought to be there, allowing easy reference to the definitions, is absent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Political Economy, not Economics 22 July 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
A guide in two parts. The first describes and discussed theories of economics, enumerating 9 of them, with their good and "bad" points. The point is very clearly made that there is no over-arching theory of economics, rather we have to use whichever one seems to best fit the situation, so that economics isn't as clear-cut a "science" as physics. (Though the author misses the chance to point out that physicists think of light as being both particles and a wave form, depending on what's happening.)

Science usually goes from observations to a theory, and from there to constructions based on the theory that can be tested; these may tend to confirm or refute the theory. By contrast, economics seems to the outsider to be based on pure theory, more akin to thinking how things ought to be rather than how they actually are. If Chang explains why this isn't the case, then I missed it. And the outside thinks that ideas like "perfect" competition, markets etc, seem to be a gross oversimplication.

The second part is rather different; it's not so much about "economics" as "political economy", and the point is well made that economics cannot be seen as something pure and unsullied, rather it is always connected to politics. There are some discussions about the blunt application of theory and the disastrous consequences that have occurred by blind adherence to a particular theory.

I'd have found it useful if the 9 theories had each been applied to a few scenarios, either real or imagined, to see what the outcomes could have been otherwise.

The messages are: it's really "political economy", and that no single theory is adequate to explain everything. But quite how to choose the most appropriate one for the particular circumstance remains out of my grasp.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
A real slog to get through
Published 12 days ago by Madison
4.0 out of 5 stars Economics made tolerable.
I won't say economics made easy because there are difficult concepts and a lot of jargon in here that Dr. Chang does his best to clarify but they still bamboozle me, at least. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Iosaiph
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a great book, I love it
Such a great book, I love it! Chang puts all the economics concepts in a way that it's relevant, easy to understand and it's interesting; not many books on economics are like that!
Published 16 days ago by Adrianna Thompson
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm a quarter of the way through this book at ...
I'm a quarter of the way through this book at the moment, and I'm really not impressed. The content seems quite interesting, and I'm in no way insulting the authors style of... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Isaac Tyreus
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics foe Everyman
At last a useful guide through the maze of economics.
Published 27 days ago by peter golding
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book about economics for people who don't care about economics.
Published 1 month ago by Dolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read explains economics
Easy to read explains economics. I now feel I have a good level of understanding the basics and some advanced aspects of economics. My problem is remembering it all.
Published 1 month ago by Banjo Basher
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth one's time.
Elegantly and simply written. Intellectually penetrating. Serious stuff made understandable.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. N. G. AUSTIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant and written in plain English
As a 1st year economics undergraduate I absolutely loved this book, very accessibly and written in plain English. Loved it and will now read more of his books. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jason R. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Economics Primer
I brought this book as I was interested in learning something about economics as a lay reader. I was fortunate that at the time I was looking for an economics primer Pelican... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Harry the book monkey
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