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Free Lunch: Easily Digestible Economics [Paperback]

David Smith
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 2003
'There's no such thing as a free lunch' is the one phrase everyone has heard from economics. But why not? Never? What does economics tell us about the price of lunch - and everything else in the world? This is the perfect introduction to economics. It is not some dreary textbook, but an explanation of how economics works and how it can help to solve all sorts of interesting problems. Written for the lay reader, this book makes the economics pages of the newspaper intelligible, the financial pages interesting and answers questions all of us worry about, like how can house prices carry on rising so much? Is there no limit to the increase in their prices? Set out like a good lunch-time conversation, the book follows the course of a meal, with starters (the introduction), main course and then the discussion which one always has at the end of a good meal. And along the way there are a few guest speakers (Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes) who make appearances to enliven the meal and entertain and inform us, the diners. This is a clever, completely original and witty introduction to economics. It costs less than even the cheapest meal and is far more satisfying than even the most gourmet banquet.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (1 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861975066
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861975065
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 13.2 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


David Smith delivers a highly accessible guide to a subject that many claim to understand but very few do. -- Jeff Randal, BBC Business Editor

Once again David Smith has demonstrated his talent for opening up the world of economics and finance to a general audience. -- Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer

This book is a good read. It is well written and in a few hours someone who didn't know much about economics could learn a great deal. -- Management Today, January 2003

Those of you looking for an entertaining and stimulating gift should look no further than this excellent new's worth every penny. -- City Diary, Finance Pages - The Guardian

Book Description

Updated with a filling course on the credit crunch, this digestible guide to economics, organised like a convivial meal with friends, will lead you through many of the mysteries of the economy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily Digestable and Full of Flavour 15 Feb 2003
By tdsfox
This highly informative and interesting book is presented in an original and 'easily digestible' format, suitable for all readers. Smith manages to cover most, if not all, of the economic issues concerning us today, in a concise 282 pages. I was particularly impressed with the references to economic history and the incorporation of so many of the 'big names' in economics - both new and old.
For those new to economics, perhaps one of the most refreshing features about the book is that it contains no diagrams and just two simple equations - which is very unusual for a contemporary book on economics. As an undergraduate studying economics, I cannot help think that a diagram in one or two places would have clarified the explanation - however, this may have over-complicated things for the general audience, and I think Smith was right to leave the book diagram free.
Even as a student, who supposedly should know a fair bit about economics, I found the book highly informative, clarifying issues that I am studying at the moment and touching on new topics that I have not yet encountered. To my surprise the book focused on various aspects of current economic theory in a clear and concise manner that will no doubt help me in my studies.
'Free Lunch' contains a wealth of general economic knowledge presented in a highly accessible and often witty writing style. I would therefore recommend this book as an excellent introduction to economics.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great introduction to a confusing subject 21 May 2007
Economics is one of those things I've always thought I ought to know more about, but all previous attempts to educate myself have ended in either confusion or terminal boredom. Well done then, to David Smith and his Free Lunch, for rendering the subject both understandable and engaging. Smith introduces all the basic ideas and the big names in this whistlestop tour of economic theory. By the end you'll be familiar with Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, you'll be able to wax intelligent over the dinner table about interest rates, and you'll have heard some interesting anecdotes along the way.

I personally found it very useful in drawing out all the connections between consumer spending, tax, interest rates, and how they all impact each other in the mysterious machine known as 'the economy'. Those wanting deeper analysis will want to look elsewhere, but if you're only going to read one book on economics in your life (and let's face it, for most of us one is plenty), this is what you require.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
David Smith, Economic Editor of The Sunday Times, has presented an excellent and digestible introduction to economics in his new book, Free Lunch, Easy digestible Economics. Smith provides a good general overview of key economic concepts, an examination of current economic issues and an introduction to key economic thought of the last two hundred years. Smith includes topics such as whether Britain should change to the Euro currency, why some countries are designed to remain in poverty, and how British monetary policy has evolved over the last twenty-five years. Best of all, Smith uses only one simple equation and does not offer a single complicated mathematical example.
The book is set out as a meal plan with appetizers, a main course, desserts, coffee and guest speakers. Guest speakers include many well-known economists such as Carl Marx, Adam Smith, and Maynard Keynes, but the contributions of some less famous economists such as Ricardo are also examined. Smith also provides further details of economic web sites worth visiting and a book list for the interested reader wishing to learn more about economics.
All in all, the book is a fantastic introduction to economics, giving the necessary information to understand the way in which our countries are run and our personal finances are controlled.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Outline 11 Jan 2008
This book is easy to recommend to anyone wanting an overview of economics.

I came across David Smith via his web-site which reproduces the columns he writes as the economics editor of the Sunday Times.

I studied economics at school but it never quite clicked. Later, when I got interested in free markets, I read Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and a couple of books by Hayek.

These were great, but I could never quite link them up mentally with the economics I learned at school. David Smith's book has joined up the gaps for me.

He takes the basic concepts and links them into today's economy. For instance, he summarises UK monetary policy since the 70s into a couple of pages and briefly explains the thinking behind tax credits.

There are introductions to major economists like Smith, Ricardo and Keynes.

It's a handy primer which I found useful.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the economy 27 Jan 2004
I have a fairly average understanding of the economy but have often felt fairly lost when watching business news on TV and listening to people talking about GDP, the relationship between interest rates and inflation, the effects high/low taxation on government revenue and public spending etc . . . . My business is investing in the property market and I need a firmer understanding or economics if I am to reduce the risks associated with my line of work.
This book gave a good, top level grounding in how the different elements of the economy interact. He does this without getting boring or going into too much detail. I found the book very easy to read and it held my attention. This is no easy feat for a book on economics!
However I am left feeling that my taste has been wetted and I need to know more in order to fully understand the subject. The book has done well to stimulate my interest to the extent that it did, but did not provide enough detail to satisfy me.
If you just want a top level, interesting introduction to economics and how it effects Joe Bloggs you won't regret buying this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow read - Textbook style
I have read a bunch of entry-economic books recently but I must say this is by far my least favourite. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ania
4.0 out of 5 stars A good way of reading around the subject
As a teacher of A level economics I have recommended this book to my students as a good way of bringing the subject to life with a mix of history and up to date application which... Read more
Published 9 months ago by D M Bareham
1.0 out of 5 stars completely incorrect economics from David Smith
once again, as an economics professor, I have to cringe at completely wrong economics, brought to you in Easily Digestible and Totally Incorrect Economics from David Smith. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Sam
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd mix
A slightly odd mix of very basic stuff, with occasional dashes of more complicated economic theory, and a not much in between. Is this for the layman or for students of economics? Read more
Published 15 months ago by Phil O'Sofa
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin
Big follower of David Smith, his positive, optimistically realistic approach is reflected in this book which strips the smoke and mirrors of Economics and presents it in an easily... Read more
Published 22 months ago by James Pogson
5.0 out of 5 stars Really hooked me!
I ordered this book a couple of weeks ago because I have a a few weeks spare, and thought I'd use them to become more financially literate. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Christopher Starbuck
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to Economics
David Smith combines a history of Economics and an explanation of the basic concepts of Economic theory to the reader in a really informal way. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Habeeb
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, mathematics-free introduction to economics
I don't really have any serious academic interest in economics, but I've recently started to read around the subject because I'd like to bee able to understand the present (IE July... Read more
Published on 15 July 2012 by S
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro
This was a quick and entertaining read. Didn't require any previous knowledge. Didn't have to read every page twice to understand it. Read more
Published on 21 Dec 2011 by Claybrooke
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and out of date
I must admit that I didn't get past Chapter 4. The author clings to an idea of the book as a meal with individual courses which limps along at best and irritates in the extreme at... Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2011 by Lady Jo
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