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The Little Book of Economics: How the Economy Works in the Real World (Little Books. Big Profits) [Hardcover]

Greg Ip

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Book Description

5 Feb 2013 Little Books. Big Profits (Book 55)
An accessible, thoroughly engaging look at how the economy really works and its role in your everyday life Not surprisingly, regular people suddenly are paying a lot closer attention to the economy than ever before. But economics, with its weird technical jargon and knotty concepts and formulas can be a very difficult subject to get to grips with on your own. Enter Greg Ip and his Little Book of Economics . Like a patient, good–natured tutor, Greg, one of today′s most respected economics journalists, walks you through everything you need to know about how the economy works. Short on technical jargon and long on clear, concise, plain–English explanations of important terms, concepts, events, historical figures and major players, this revised and updated edition of Greg′s bestselling guide clues you in on what′s really going on, what it means to you and what we should be demanding our policymakers do about the economy going forward. From inflation to the Federal Reserve, taxes to the budget deficit, you get indispensible insights into everything that really matters about economics and its impact on everyday life Special sections featuring additional resources of every subject discussed and where to find additional information to help you learn more about an issue and keep track of ongoing developments Offers priceless insights into the roots of America′s economic crisis and its aftermath, especially the role played by excessive greed and risk–taking, and what can be done to avoid another economic cataclysm Digs into globalization, the roots of the Euro crisis, the sources of China′s spectacular growth, and why the gap between the economy′s winners and losers keeps widening

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The Little Book of Economics: How the Economy Works in the Real World (Little Books. Big Profits) + The Little Book of Value Investing (Little Books. Big Profits) + The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How Not to be Your Own Worst Enemy (Little Books, Big Profits (UK))
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Review

‘…a handy primer for those not well versed in the subject’ (Irish Times, March 2013)

From the Inside Flap

Not surprisingly, regular folks suddenly are paying much closer attention to the economy than ever. But economics, with its weird technical jargon and knotty concepts and formulas, can be a tough subject to come to grips with on your own. Enter Greg Ip and his Little Book of Economics . Like a patient, good-natured mentor, Greg, one of today's most respected economics journalists, walks you through everything you need to know about how the economy works. Short on technical jargon and long on clear, concise, plain-English explanations of important terms, concepts, events, historical figures, and major players, this revised and updated edition of Greg's bestselling guide clues you in on what the "dismal science" is really all about and why you should care. A fun, educational journey through the strange, sometimes counterintuitive world of economics, The Little Book of Economics delivers: Indispensable insights into everything that really matters about economics and its impact on everyday life Crystal clear explanations of crucial topics such as inflation, unemployment, the Federal Reserve, taxes, the budget deficit, and a lot more Priceless insights into the real roots of the global financial crisis and its aftermath, and of the United States' slugglish recovery and high unemployment Discussions of the dangers posed by risk-taking on Wall Street and soaring government debt Thought-provoking suggestions about what policymakers should do about growth, jobs, taxes, the deficit, and regulation going forward Expert analyses of globalization, the euro crisis, the sources of China's runaway growth, and why the gap between the rich and everyone else keeps getting bigger Special sections in each chapter that demystify the jargon and key concepts to help you understand each subject in detail and keep track of ongoing developments An accessible, thoroughly engaging look at how the economy really works and how it affects your everyday life, The Little Book of Economics is more than just a great source of information, it's a tool of survival in today's turbulent economic times.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In just hours, understand the U.S. economy better than most do 4 Mar 2013
By Anders Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you have any interest in the economy at all, and you should, then there is no reason not to read this book.

Politicians and journalists of all stripes tend to butcher economic concepts. If you're looking for a simple handbook which explains plainly how the economy actually works, and why there are aspects of it that not even experts truly understand, then look no further.

I would venture to say that I got a better understanding of macroeconomics in the 4 hours that it took me to read this book than I got from over a month of macro in my introductory undergraduate econ class. I've read every word of The Economist magazine since 2009, and about 10% of the information here was still new to me.

Obviously, a text of this size is going to leave a lot of things out. There is almost nothing about microeconomics except what is mentioned in passing. Anyone who follows economics is bound to believe that certain topics which are omitted from such a book are more important than certain other topics which are included, but on balance Ip's selection of material is commendable.

As even-handed as the Little Book of Economics is, economic freedom in general doesn't quite get the same well-deserved robust defense which the book makes of international trade in particular. For example, free markets are "unequaled at channeling capital and labor to their most productive purposes,"[p. 147] but with skepticism of markets at a record high, it bears adding that eliminating them completely would spell tyranny and poverty for the masses.

In a world otherwise oozing with economic misinformation, this is a little book you should own. Read it, and also advise your children to read it before they leave high school, because they will inherit the economic challenges which we leave behind.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Author knowledgable but has an annoying writing style 16 May 2013
By J. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There's no question Ip knows economics well but I don't recommend this book. There are too many others that explain similar concepts (e.g. Naked Economist, Instant Economist), without Ip's annoying habit of using strange metaphors. At various points, he makes economics analogies to Ritalin, sausage, etc., that add nothing to his economic explanations.

If you think I'm being too harsh, just read this passage from p.213: "The U.S. budget is like sausage, a mixture of ground meat from different parts of the animal stuffed into a misshapen skin." ???
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good context for economic news 11 Feb 2013
By Creigh Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book provides a basic overview of economic activities at the national and international level, in an easy-to-understand everyday language form. I bought the book because I had recently read other economic commentary with a distinct point of view (some might say bias) and wanted to test it against mainstream ideas. For that purpose, as well as a basic introduction, the book worked well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How economics works in the real world 10 April 2013
By Sunriver Sam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics but they are based on textbook theories that are not working in the real world. This books describes how the economy is affected by consumers, banks, businesses and government to change outcomes and produce different results. It does a great job of tying micro and macro-economics together as well as providing a global perspective.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only one calculation in the book, and it is wrong 3 Feb 2014
By Luiz Nunes Oliveira - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This review is a joint effort with F. A. B. Coutinho and W. B. Tanner

This interesting pedagogical book targets a public with no background in economics, readers who missed Economics 101 in college. Broadly speaking, the text combines outstanding qualities with a weakness. On its bright side, one learns how economic cycles rise and fall and how the US government tries to regulate the economy and walk the line separating substantive inflation from recession. A number of reviews can be found on the web in praise of the clear, good-humored presentation and of the clever analogies constructed to bring the author's points home. We join previous reviewers in applause of such virtues.
The weakness, which by contrast has been overlooked, is disregard for theory. The layperson may be pleased with this aspect of the book. Eager to understand how the Fed interferes with his life, he will be relieved to find no mathematical symbols between the covers. Simplicity, nevertheless, has a price: the reader is likely to end up with the false impression that theory is superfluous and that the only tool in the competent economist's chest is time-series extrapolation. To emphasize this point, we will spell out the only mathematical expression in the book, an unwritten equation discussed in Chapter 1. To write down that expression, we need a few definitions. GDP is a nation's gross domestic product. N is the number of workers, and P is the average productivity, that is, the average amount of goods that a worker produces in one year, measured in dollars. Evidently, GDP = NP, an equality that is almost a definition, easy to understand. The trouble is the complexity of the economic system, which makes N and P interdependent and bound to numerous other variables. To show how N and P depend on those other variables is the object of macroeconomic models, a goal that many textbooks describe very well. True, theories often fail, and a few tumble with thunder, but this is how science plows through the thickets of the unknown. Of course, neither the models, nor their successes or failures are hidden in the equality GDP = NP. Even the most diligent attempt to find the complexity of economics in this simple mathematical expression is bound to fail. That, however, is what Greg Ip does. Not surprisingly, he fails. The stumble may be less than obvious to the inexperienced reader, but a hint is found at the end of the section titled "A recipe for economic growth", in Chapter 1. Here, Ip concludes that if N increases by 1% and P, by 1.5%, then the GDP grows by 2.5%, an inaccuracy that will raise the attentive reader's eyebrows. To be sure, the deviation is minute: 1% over 1.5% is equivalent to 2.515%. Nonetheless, stating that the GDP grows by 2.5%, instead of saying that it grows slightly over 2.5%, proclaims that arithmetic accuracy and mathematical rigor are foreign to economics.

The author belongs to the class of scholars known as Humanists or Social Scientists. Humanists differ from such hard scientists as mathematicians or physicists in the way they acquire and disseminate knowledge. Hard scientists have much to learn from humanists, just as much as the latter would profit from communication with the former. In reference to this point, see the Brazilian Journal of Physics, Volume 44, pp. 125-127 (2014), for a review of two books authored by hard scientists who strive to explain their methods to humanists. The authors will be glad to send reprints to interested readers.

"The Little Book on Economics" focuses on the operation of the American economic agencies and is attractive and harmless to readers with scientific training. The indifference of the text towards theoretical developments may nonetheless be detrimental to others, for it portrays the economist as a modern version of the seventeenth-century physician, a professional who had to decide between the purgative and the leech after feeling the patient's pulse, measuring her temperature, and evaluating her complexion. Controversial as Paul Krugman's writing may be, his articles in the New York Times are much more faithful to the scientific nature of economics. Ip's book merits five stars because it is delightfully clear and offers an enormous amount of information about the committees steering the economy in the US. Make no mistake, however: its fifteen chapters compose no substitute for a crash course on Economics.
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